Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer made an emotional apology to the team on Monday for criticizing quarterback Jay Cutler. The coach was brought to tears and admitted he was the anonymous source who told a reporter last week that Cutler had "absolutely killed" the Bears with his poor decision-making on the field, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
The earlier report came from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Sunday and suggested that the Bears are experiencing "buyer's remorse" from awarding Cutler a seven-year $126.7 million contract that contains $54 million guaranteed. The 31-year-old quarterback leads the NFL with 21 turnovers and has struggled with consistency despite completing 66.8 percent of his passes and nearing a career high in touchdowns.
While Kromer reportedly denied making the comment about Cutler's contract, he did own up to telling the reporter he was frustrated with Cutler's recent play. Kromer told the team that he made a mistake by speaking out of anger after the Dallas Cowboys won at Soldier Field in Week 14, a loss that was sealed when Cutler threw a fourth-quarter interception.
Cutler's teammates didn't seem to know what to make of Kromer's apology and were still digesting the information. "I'm still kind of trying to sort my way through this to be honest," an unnamed player told the Tribune. "It's one of the most (messed) up things I have ever seen."
On Friday, Cutler told the media that he was not mad at Kromer for his comments:
"No, no, I wasn't angry at him," Cutler said. "You know, the way he talked to us and approached the issue, I think we kind of cleared the air a little bit with everybody. I want to play better; the offensive line wants to play better; the receivers want to play better; we all want to play better in the offense, and that's the main issue."
But wide receiver Brandon Marshall echoed the "buyer's remorse" sentiment days later when he defended his quarterback before saying he understood why the team would have misgivings about the decision.
It's not the first time this year that the Bears have demonstrated dysfunctional behavior. Earlier this season after Chicago lost its third consecutive game at home, there were reports of fighting in the locker room. Two weeks later, general manager Phil Emery panned Cutler's performance while Bears great Mike Ditka called out the defense. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is rumored to be on his way out this offseason, and some have speculated that head coach Marc Trestman won't get a third year with the team.
Whether publicly or privately, no one in Chicago can be satisfied. The Bears had high expectations coming into the season, but instead they are 5-8 and have been eliminated from the playoffs for the fourth straight year.