Rozner: Bears continue march in wrong direction
It was late January 2012 when GM Phil Emery took the reins and said for the first time that his goal for the Bears was simple.
"My job moving forward," Emery said at his opening news conference, "is to continue to build this team so we can be consistent winners."
Just under three years into a five-year contract, and having said something similar many times since, Bears fans hear the constant beep of a backhoe moving the wrong direction, gouging trenches in the turf as it grinds through another vanishing season.
An initial 10-6 record dropped to 8-8 last year and only a perfect finish would land the Bears (5-8) back at .500 after another embarrassing defeat at home Thursday night, this time 41-28 to Dallas.
While firing Lovie Smith was appropriate considering his 3 playoff victories in nine years, Emery's reach for Marc Trestman looks worse with every passing week -- pun fully intended -- as Trestman fails to execute a plan and then makes a nonsensical attempt to explain it.
It reached a two-year low this week when Trestman tried to deflect criticism of his play calling in Detroit on Thanksgiving, specifically his refusal to run the football.
Matt Forte was sixth in the NFL in rushing even after getting the handoff just five times in Detroit, where Jay Cutler dropped back 51 times versus only 7 running back carries.
"You can't just sit back there and throw 50 passes a game," Forte said this week, "and expect to win."
The Bears had hoped to keep Detroit off balance by throwing slants and screens, but to abandon the run entirely left the Lions' fierce pass rushers with little fear of the run game.
"The front four (was) pinning (its) ears back," Forte said. "They didn't have anything to do but pass rush. They're not respecting the run and then if you play fake they're not going to take the fake because you haven't been running the ball."
Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer essentially agreed with Forte and Cutler piled on.
"You want to have some balance, even if numbers-wise it's not as balanced as you want it to be," Cutler said. "If you're running the ball efficiently and giving the illusion that you're going to run the ball, it definitely helps.
"I think anyone that's been doing this for a while realizes you've got to have the best of both worlds. You've got to kind of move the pocket. You've got to be able to run the ball. You've got to do some play-action. You've got to mix it up. There's no one out there that can drop back 40-50 times consistently and win football games."
So everyone agrees that the Bears, at times this year, have abandoned the run when they were still in games, but the head coach seems completely baffled by why it's happened, when he's the man in control of all the decision-making.
"One of the things we know we have to do is we have to attempt to run the ball more," Trestman said, as if he didn't have the power to make it happen. "Running the football has a residual effect on a lot of different things. It helps your movement game. It helps your play-action game. It does all those things. We all know these things. And so we'll try to do more of that."
Maybe Trestman was unaware that he was the head coach in charge of running the football, but after all of that talk this week, the Bears paid lip service to the notion again Thursday, running four times for minus-2 yards in the first quarter and twice more for 7 yards in the second.
Down 21-7 early in the third, Trestman tried it one more time, but after a 1-yard gain from their own 15, the Bears gave up on the run again.
Different game, same story. Forte wound up with 26 yards on 13 carries. Cutler threw it 46 times. The Cowboys ran it 35 times for 194 yards.
So removed from the schedule is another game of another season, and the Bears are not closer to the "consistent" winning of which Emery originally spoke.
They continue to move backward, and Bears fans are all too familiar with the look, the smell and the sound.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM.