After last Thursday night's loss to the Cowboys, Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer criticized quarterback Jay Cutler and the offense in a discussion with NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport.
When the Bears reconvened Monday at Halas Hall, Kromer apologized to Cutler and the offense during a team meeting. The Chicago Tribune was first to report what had transpired late Thursday, and all the parties involved addressed the situation Friday.
"When I did I instantly 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. The rest will be handled internally, and we'll work through that."
Asked why he felt the need to apologize, Kromer said: "I felt it important that they knew."
Kromer reportedly criticized Cutler's game-management skills, specifically not checking out of some running plays. However, the offensive coordinator denied being the source that told Rapoport that the team has buyer's remorse after signing the quarterback to a lucrative contract.
Asked Friday about Cutler not performing up to expectations, Kromer said: "I think the best way to analyze it is I would put it on me because being the offensive coordinator, my job is to make sure we score touchdowns and be efficient. And if we're not, then that's on me. I have to coach Jay better. I have to coach the offense better for us to be better."
Kromer revealed that he and Cutler meet every morning from 6:30-7:30 a.m. and have continued to do so this week, describing those sessions as "very productive."
Asked if he feels that Cutler's season is above criticism, Kromer said: "All of us are not above criticism at this point. We should win. We need to win games. Our job is to win games. Our job is to score touchdowns. And we need to do that."
Cutler has no issues with Kromer
Cutler told reporters during his weekly press conference Friday that he accepted Kromer's apology and has no issues with the offensive coordinator.
"We've all made mistakes," Cutler said. "I'm sure everyone in this room can attest to that. I've said things out of character and things I wish I could take back. That's what happened here. He apologized to us on Monday and in the offensive room it's a dead issue."
With the Bears in last place in the NFC North after entering the season with Super Bowl aspirations, Cutler understands why Kromer vented about the lack of success.
"When you start losing games, everyone's going to get frustrated, from the top down," Cutler said. "Coaching staff, management, players; I mean no one's happy where we're at. When you look at it, it's a good thing. As players, coaches, management, you wouldn't want to be happy with where we're at because we want to be better than that."
Cutler said that he wouldn't have known Kromer had spoken to Rapoport had the offensive coordinator not apologized during Monday's offensive meeting.
"I think we were all a little bit surprised; not so much that it happened but that he stepped in front of us and apologized," Cutler said. "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 and apologize and own it the way he did. I think we left that meeting in a better place than we started."
Asked whether he was angry at Kromer, Cutler said: "No, I wasn't angry at him. 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."
Cutler thinks the situation actually could benefit the Bears.
"I think the foundation should be strengthened by this," he 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."
Trestman clearly disappointed
Kromer informed coach Marc Trestman about the comments he had made to Rapoport and decided to apologize to Cutler and the offense "on his own," according to Trestman.
"I was clearly disappointed with Aaron … and he understands that," Trestman said. "Aaron clearly knows what he did was wrong and inappropriate under the circumstances.
"He chose to apologize to the offense on Monday. We're going to work through the rest of it internally as we move forward to what's most important, and that is the New Orleans Saints and getting ready for them on Monday night."
Asked whether players will be able to trust Kromer moving forward, Trestman said that he believes the team will work through the situation.
"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."
Trestman said that Kromer will remain in his position for at least the final three games of the season.
"Everybody on our staff is important," Trestman said. "Everybody's important. And as I said already, Aaron has talked through this. I've communicated my disappointment with him and we've moved forward in processing this. And we will continue to do that in getting ready for the Saints, which our team has done an excellent job of moving forward the last two days."