Bears players react to firings: 'We didn't get the job done'

Bears players offered thoughts about the disappointing season and the changes at the top.

The Chicago Bears are cleaning house. After finishing a 5-11 season Sunday with a 13-9 loss to the Vikings, the Bears announced major changes Monday morning, firing both head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery.

Chairman George McCaskey and team president Ted Phillips will meet with the media to discuss their changes and their vision for the future late Monday afternoon.

Bears players were busy Monday morning cleaning out their lockers and heading for the offseason. Here are a few highlights of what players had to say about the disappointing season and the changes at the top.

Tight end Martellus Bennett

On why things didn’t work with Marc Trestman and his coaching staff:

“I don’t know. There’s numerous reasons. It’s a long list of things that we could go down and pick and choose. At the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done. It’s not just coaches. It’s everybody. We didn’t have a successful year as players. So the coaches didn’t have a successful year. I think everybody has their hand in the pot. And the gumbo doesn’t taste that great when everybody’s hand is in the pot. Then everybody is responsible for the bad taste of the gumbo. I’m pretty sure there is going to be a lot of player change throughout the summer as well. So a lot of things are going to be different next year.”
 
On what’s needed now to get things pointed back in the right direction:

“Right now, I can’t really tell you. I’ll have to go back and reevaluate everything and get my thoughts together on what I think about the season. Right now it would just be a rash statement for me to come out and just say what I think is needed. I really don’t know at this point right now. ... It sucks watching the playoffs. If guys on this team were not upset about that, if they’re happy having a nice apartment and driving nice cars and watching other guys play in the playoffs, then that’s part of the problem.“
 
On whether there’s any reason to be optimistic about next season:

“That should be a rhetorical question. At the end of the day, it’s a whole new year. And anyone who has no optimism about a new year, I feel bad for those people. I believe in optimism and I don’t know about anybody else but I think the fans should know that the only thing that I can control is what I do. And I’m going to work hard and become a better player for them than I was this year. So it’s going to be a bigger and better show. So make sure you’ve got your gummy bears.”
 
On what kind of philosophy or style of coach he wants next:

“For me, I’m a chameleon when it comes to philosophies. I think there are numerous ways to win and numerous ways to manage and operate a business or a team. There are lot of different roads to success. So there’s no one way to win. And there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s. At the same time, I think any coach that I’m with, it doesn’t take much if the philosophy feels like it’s a winning philosophy. Then I’m down with it.”

Right guard Kyle Long

On whether he was bracing for the changes that the Bears made Monday:

“You can’t really be surprised, especially when you’re 5-11. The abundance of talent that we have, it leaves you confused. You’re kind of at a loss for words sometimes, but stuff like this happens in the NFL.”

On what Trestman’s message to his players was Monday morning:

“Just to continue to love one another and keep playing for one another. He was as he always is – very thought-out. Everything is very thought-out. He’s a smart guy so he had a good message for us. We appreciate him being able to get up there and talk to us. He’s a man about it and we love him for that and respect him for that.”

On what kind of coach the Bears need:

“The right coach for Chicago is one that wants to instill an identity, demands a team that has an identity. And when we play opponents, they should say, ‘We don’t want to play those guys.’ There’s a handful of teams in the NFL that are like that. And I feel like we have the nucleus to be able to do that. And we haven’t done that, and that’s something that we need to do.”
 
Cornerback Tim Jennings

On whether he expected the major changes made Monday:

“You hear things. You don't definitely know what's going to happen. But something needs to be done. It could be players, it could be from coaches. But at the end of the day something has to change. I'm not surprised by it. Hopefully it will be a good (change) this time.”

On what ultimately went wrong:

“We kind of got away from what we are as the Chicago Bears. We kind of got away from the style of defense that we play. It was more of a transition from defense to offense. I don't know. We all thought it would be a good thing. We've got all the weapons, we've got all the tools. It kind of got away from the tradition of what the Chicago Bears are known for. That's the only thing I could come up with.”

On whether he felt bad for Trestman:

“Of course I feel bad for him. I feel bad for anybody that leaves this organization – from the players on down. You never want a guy to leave that you spent some time with, that you played your heart out for. Even with the players we have. It's always a sad day to kind of see a guy leave. But you can look at it as another opportunity, another great opportunity. Sometimes it takes a change for you to figure out where you're really supposed to be.”
 
Defensive tackle Stephen Paea

On processing Monday’s news:

“We went through this two years ago. It’s nothing new to me personally. But we’re sad to have a great coach leaving after a 5-11 season. I wish the best for him.”
 
On whether the Bears’ coaching change will impact his decision-making process during free agency in March:

“Yeah, I’m curious. I want to come back to Chicago. These are the best fans, best media, best teammates. It’s home for me. So I’d love to come back.”

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