Despite distractions, Bears' Trestman just focused on next opponent
If the mark of a wasted season is how many negative rumors must be addressed by the head coach, the Bears are truly trashed.
In addition to the ongoing speculation on the plight of defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Monday brought Bears head coach Marc Trestman questions about whether he considered benching quarterback Jay Cutler at halftime of the 21-13 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 23.
In that game, the Bears failed to score in the first half for the third time in five games and had 54 net passing yards. Cutler completed 10 of 18 passes for 72 yards and a passer rating of 65.0. He was sacked three times for minus-18 yards.
"Jay Cutler, as long as he's been healthy, has been the guy we've had in there and wanted to play," Trestman said. "There's been no indifference there whatsoever."
In the second half, Cutler completed 7 of 9 passes for 58 yards and 1 TD. The Bears took advantage of turnovers and exceptional field position that resulted in TD "drives" of 58, 13 and 15 yards, getting the win despite gaining just 204 total yards.
Trestman was asked later about the possibility of backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen getting some snaps, after the coach mentioned that almost every player active on Sundays was getting playing time and a chance to be evaluated.
"As long as Jay is healthy," Trestman said, "he'll be playing quarterback for us."
Tucker's firing at the end of the season seems a foregone conclusion to many critics, but Trestman said any attention paid to that would take away from the task at hand.
"All we're trying to do here is to get our football team in a position that we can be better on (next) Monday night (against New Orleans)," he said.
"The focus inside this building is exactly that and has always been exactly that week to week. That's all that's been important to all of us here. We're really not focused on anything that's going on outside the building."
But, if the Bears (5-8) continue along the same path that has seen them lose seven times in 10 games, including 6 losses by double digits, sweeping changes on the coaching staff and in personnel are expected.
Trestman was asked how he deals with the rampant speculation, rumors and innuendo -- what coaches and players call "outside noise."
"You understand why you're here," Trestman said. "We're here to try to get our football team better. That's what coaching is, to give each individual player an environment where he can grow and get better to put our team in a position (to) improve.
"That's how you do it. You focus on what's important."
That's what tight end Martellus Bennett intends to do, coming off a career-best 12 receptions against the Cowboys. The seven-year veteran has been around long enough to know the current situation is part of the business.
"Everybody's job is always on the line is how I look at it every single week," Bennett said. "We all live in a world where contracts aren't what they used to be; you can get cut at any time. So every single week there's uncertainty for most guys.
"I think everybody's always competing and playing for a job, and if they're not, they should be."
Safety Ryan Mundy doesn't deny that there is a high level of frustration throughout the coaching staff. But he appreciates the professionalism he has seen in coach-player relationships.
"Everybody around here is frustrated," Mundy said. "It would be a problem if you didn't sense some frustration. But there's a difference when the frustration's being taken out on you.
"Our coaches have done an outstanding job of not taking their frustrations out on the team. They've been very positive throughout the weeks when we've had losses and made sure we have proper perspective moving forward."
Next Monday night the Bears will get an opportunity to match frustration levels -- and 5-8 records -- with the visitors from New Orleans.
But the Saints' frustration is tempered by the irony of their first-place standing in the NFC South, while the Bears already have been erased from the playoff picture.
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