Bears fire Phil Emery, Marc Trestman

ByJeff Dickerson ESPN logo
Tuesday, December 30, 2014

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bearsfired general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman on Monday after a 5-11 season.

"[Bears president and CEO] Ted [Phillips] and I came to the conclusion that continuing on our present course would not result in our ultimate goal, which is to win championships," Bears chairman George McCaskey said. "All our decisions revolve around that goal, and we feel that it's time to move forward with new leadership to help us get there."

McCaskey paused for approximately 10 seconds when asked what 91-year-old franchise matriarch Virginia Halas McCaskey thought of what's happened with the Bears.

"She's been very supportive. She agrees with the decisions that we made. She's pissed off," McCaskey said. "I can't think of a 91-year-old woman that that description would apply to. But in this case, I can't think of a more accurate description.

"She's been on this Earth for eight of the Bears' nine championships, and she wants more. She feels that it's been too long since the last one, and that dissatisfaction is shared by her children, her grandchildren and her-great grandchildren. She's fed up with mediocrity. She feels that she and Bears fans everywhere deserve better."

The Bears brass said they've hired Ernie Accorsi as a consultant to help in the search for a new general manager and coach.

In a statement, Trestman thanked the Bears organization for giving him the chance to be the team's coach.

"I also want to thank all the coaches and players who gave us everything we asked over the past two years," he said in the statement. "I have tremendous respect for this organization. Chicago is a special city with great fans. I appreciate the warm support my family and I received."

Trestman spoke to the team Monday morning before departing the team facility for the final time.

"It was the same Marc Trestman meeting we always have," Bears tight endMartellus Bennettsaid. "He just said said thank you and that he appreciated the guys. It wasn't anything different than he usually does when he comes in. He has his notes written down, and he's meticulous about what he says. He'svery good with the words he chooses to use.

"For Coach [Trestman] I just think it's a dream deferred. I think he's a really good coach, an excellent guy, and I think he will have another chance to coach in this league."

Emery met with reporters at Halas Hall on Monday, but read from a prepared statement, and took no questions.

"This job was the opportunity of a lifetime. My only regret is we didn't win enough games for that opportunity to continue," he said in part of his statement.

"Thank you to all the Bears fans that have reached out to me the last three years, who have stopped to say hello, have extended their hand in friendship and that I've had the opportunity to have a conversation with. Your kindness does a lot more for the soul than people can imagine. To borrow a lyric or a line from Carrie Newcomer: 'We stand breathless on the clean edge of change.' So it's time to change and move forward. Go Bears. Thanks for your time."

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall expressed his disappointment at the changes via his Twitter account.

He expounded on his thoughts in an interview with ESPN 1000's "Waddle & Silvy" show.

"There's a lot of people that are going to be uprooted. I get it, the fans are passionate," he said. "Reporters and media have to do their jobs, but I just sent out an Instagram picture of our locker room, it's a mess. I wrote that this is 'the devastation after the storm.'

"The devastation is all these kids that moved schools, and all these coaches, they are amazing coaches, may not get jobs again. There are a lot of lives that are going to change."

Marshall said the Bears "just didn't come together" this season.

"Players didn't come together. Coaches didn't come together. Unfortunately, we got guys who are fired, and we got players that will be cut and traded, and things like that," he said.

Several other players expressed their disappointment in Emery's dismissal, specifically two-time Pro Bowl right guardKyle Long. Emery played a pivotal role in the club drafting Long in 2013 at No. 20 overall in the first round, despite Long's limited body of work in the collegiate ranks.

"It's a business, and it's unfortunate that people's jobs are at stake all the time," Long said. "I have the utmost respect for Trestman and Phil Emery. Those were the guys that stood on the table for me last year at the draft, and not many people did that for me. Those are the guys that brought me in here. I love those guys."

Offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who tearfully apologized to the team late in the season after admitting he was the source of a NFL Network report that was highly critical of quarterback Jay Cutler, also was fired, a source told ESPN.

Despite Chicago's embattled defense surrendering 442 points, which ranked as second-most in the NFL just a year after allowing a franchise-record 478, the defensive coaching staff wasn't fired, according to a league source. They'll remain employed by the team until it brings aboard a new coach, who is likely going to want to hire his own staff.

Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, who starred for 12 seasons as a linebacker for the Bears (1981 to 1992), would be interested in interviewing for the now-vacant Bears coaching job, a league source told ESPN.

Singletary is currently working for the NFL as a senior adviser to executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent. He'll also be coaching at the East-West Shrine Game in a few weeks.

The Bears usually go outside the box when hiring a head coach. Only once have they hired a coach who had NFL head-coaching experience, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Paddy Driscoll was actually a player-coach with the Chicago Cardinals in the 1920s before he took the Bears' coaching duties from 1956 to 1957.

Emery lasted just three seasons with the Bears, who did not reach the postseason during that stretch.

Trestman lasted only two seasons with the Bears, who missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in 2014 despite an offense that featured Cutler, running back Matt Forte and receivers Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

Emery's tenure at Halas Hall was marked by the firing of former coach Lovie Smith -- who was ousted after a 10-6 season in 2012 -- the hiring of Trestman and the lucrative contract signed by Cutler this past January.

Emery also struggled to rebuild Chicago's defense in the wake of Brian Urlacher's retirement before the 2013 season. The Bears ranked 30th in the NFL in total defense in 2013 and 30th this season.

Cutler, who signed a seven-year extension reportedly worth $126 million, including $54 million guaranteed, threw 18 interceptions this past season, his highest total since 2009. He struggled mightily in his second year under Trestman and was benched for Chicago's Week 16 game against theDetroit Lions.

The Bears' frustration this season seemed to boil over after their loss to theMiami Dolphinson Oct. 19, when Marshall reportedly called out Cutler during apostgame incident in the locker room. They went 5-11 this season.

Before joining the Bears, Trestman spent five years as the head coach of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, who won two Grey Cup championships during his tenure.'s Michael C. Wright, Field Yates and Adam Caplan contributed to this report.

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