Cutler appreciative of OC's apology

ByMichael C. Wright ESPN logo
Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer acknowledged Friday he "made a very poor decision" in criticizing quarterback Jay Cutler to an NFL Network reporter, while coach Marc Trestman said the matter will be handled internally.

"I was clearly disappointed with Aaron," Trestman said. "He clearly knows what he did was wrong."

Kromer addressed the offense during a team meeting Monday at Halas Hall and revealed he criticized the quarterback privately to an NFL Network reporter last week, which led to a report Sunday that the organization is feeling "buyer's remorse" after signing Cutler to a seven-year, $126.7 million contract Jan. 2.

During what was reported as a tearful apology to the offense and the quarterback, Kromer admitted to venting about Cutler's play management. The NFL Network's report also mentioned growing displeasure internally about the quarterback's inability or refusal to check out of run plays that might not be the most advantageous for the team at the time.

But a Chicago Tribune report cited sources as saying Kromer denied telling NFL Network the franchise had "buyer's remorse," and made it a point to inform players during the meeting that that portion of the report did not come from him. The report states Cutler was in the room during the meeting and shook his head the whole time as Kromer apologized.

"I made a very poor decision of talking about things outside the building and I admit that, can't take that back," Kromer said Friday at Halas Hall. "But I recognize I made a mistake. When I did, [I] instantly went right to the offensive unit and apologized as well as apologized to Jay in front of the offense that he was singled out in the situation. I wish I wouldn't have made that mistake. It's happened, and we're a group and a unit. We worked it out together. The rest will be handled internally, and we'll work through that."

It's unclear how the organization plans to handle the situation, but multiple NFL sources believe Kromer's breach in Cutler's trust could factor heavily into the entire staff being terminated at the end of the season. The latest revelation highlights what appears to be a lack of trust throughout the organization.

Still, Cutler appreciated Kromer addressing the group to apologize.

"I think we were all a little bit surprised," Cutler said. "I think not so much that it happened, but that he stepped in front of us and apologized; he was owning up to it. Like I said, everyone has made mistakes and said things in the media, and said things to other players in passing that we regret. But not many of us step up in front of everybody, apologizes, and owns it the way he did. I think we left that meeting in a better place than we started."

Cutler said he "wasn't angry" with Kromer and believes the coach's admission "kind of cleared the air a little bit with everybody."

Trestman, meanwhile, appeared to be more disappointed in Kromer than Cutler was.

"I want to take a moment here and put behind us at this press conference, in this session, here the situation with Aaron," Trestman said. "No. 1, I was clearly disappointed with Aaron. And he understands that. Aaron clearly knows what he did was wrong and inappropriate under the circumstances. He chose to apologize to the offense on Monday, as you already know. And we're going to work through the rest of it internally as we move forward to what's most important."

Asked about how the Bears will handle the situation, Trestman on multiple occasions called it "an internal issue" and said Kromer informed him the day after the team's Dec. 4 loss to the Dallas Cowboys of his remarks to NFL Network.

"This was a situation that I was clearly disappointed in," Trestman said. "And we're handling it internally."

The Bears practiced inside the Walter Payton Center on Friday, and during the portion of the workout open to the media, Trestman and Kromer stood at midfield talking for several minutes.

Trestman was asked whether players could trust the offensive coordinator again given the current situation.

"You know, when you're building a locker room and a culture, we haven't had something like this happen over the last two years. But what we're prepared to do is ... things are going to happen. There are going to be issues that come up when you have this many men and this many people involved," Trestman said. "We don't like what happened. We're disappointed in what happened. I'm disappointed in what happened.

"But this is an opportunity for you to work through something like this. And we're doing that internally. It's a process we're going to go through daily and that's where we are. I feel confident that we can work through this."

Cutler sees the potential for the team's latest distraction to become a galvanizing force.

"I think the foundation should be strengthened by this," Cutler said. "It's not like we're finding out that this happened from another source, that someone's coming to us saying, 'Hey, Krom said this, this and this.' We're finding out from Krom that he said this, which I think is a good thing. He owned up to it. He let everyone know, 'Hey, I made a mistake. This is where we stand. And this is where we need to move on to.'

"I wish more guys were like that. I wish we could communicate like that more often because things would be out in the open. They're out in the open right now and we've just got to continue on. I think we've got a strong group of guys on the offensive side that will come together."

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