LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer called it a case of speaking out of turn and his reeling team is making every attempt to push his public criticism of quarterback Jay Cutler into the past.
Kromer, the former interim coach for the Saints, admitted Friday that he asked for the forgiveness of players and other coaches Monday while apologizing to them for remarks he made to an NFL Network reporter that were critical of Cutler and the offense. In the report, Kromer complained that Cutler was unable to get out of running plays with audible play calls. The story suggested the Bears have “buyer’s remorse” after signing Cutler to a contract extension before the season, but Kromer said in his apology to the team that he never mentioned any buyer’s remorse.
“I just want to say I made a very poor decision talking about things outside the building, and I admit that and can’t take that back,” Kromer said. “But I recognize that I made a mistake. When I did, instantly (I) went right to the offensive unit, our unit, our group, and apologized to the offense 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.”
Cutler called it “a dead issue” after the apology, and doubted it would affect the way the team prepares for Monday’s game with the New Orleans Saints or the two other remaining games.
“I wasn’t angry at him,” Cutler said. “The way that he talked to us and approached the issue, I think it 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 on offense and that’s the main issue.”
The apology did surprise Cutler, though.
“I think not so much that it happened, but that he stepped in front of us and apologized; he was owning up to it,” he said. “Because 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 and apologize and own it the way he did. I think we left that meeting in a better place than we started.”
Kromer never considered resigning over his comments, and Bears coach Marc Trestman said he never considered firing Kromer. He wouldn’t say whether he fined Kromer over the incident.
“We don’t like what happened,” Trestman said. “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.”
The Bears are 5-8 and at the bottom of the NFC North. They will miss the playoffs for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.
The seven-year deal for Cutler is reportedly worth nearly $18 million per year over the first three years and included at least $50 million guaranteed. The idea of the Bears having buyer’s remorse came up when wide receiver Brandon Marshall said he could understand if the team had some after the failure of the offense to play consistently well.
The discussion doesn’t bother Cutler, who has a league-high 21 turnovers.
“Stuff like that, when you’re 5-8, that’s going to happen,” he said. “When you just got paid a big contract and you’re a quarterback, that’s part of the deal, part of the job. To say it doesn’t affect me, I don’t know if that’s true or not. I’m human just like everybody else. I hear about it, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to worry about the Saints, just keep trying to improve this team. If I play better, that will just give us a better chance to win.”
Marshall is done for the season with a rib injury and lung injury suffered against Dallas last week. Cutler said he could understand Marshall’s comments to some extent.
“I know Brandon is frustrated with his production, where the team is, and rightfully so,” Cutler said. “We’re all frustrated right now. Whenever he does get back, I hope that he will help the offense get back on track.”