Commentary

No love for the OC

Hester, Cutler throw Turner under the bus with thinly veiled indictment

Updated: December 17, 2009, 9:37 AM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

It took the seemingly guileless Devin Hester to point out Wednesday what all of his Bears teammates know but have been hesitant to say.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler/Ron Turner
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhRon Turner defended the interception-prone Jay Cutler numerous times this season, but the quarterback did not return the favor.

"I think there will be [changes next year]," Hester said. "It's been what, three seasons like this? It's tough. There will be a lot of changes, I know that for a fact. I hope it's for the better."

And how does he know that "for a fact."

"[We're] not blind," he said. "Everybody sees it. There's going to be a lot of new players in and probably some other things [will] change around here."

The "other things" did not have to be elaborated. The words "Ron Turner" and "job security" appear in the same sentence more often these days than "offensive line" and "penalties."

Hester, who has been a sort of litmus test for the team since his rookie year, the Bears' Super Bowl season, was on track this year for 1,000 yards receiving but has been derailed by injuries and inconsistent play. That Hester may never develop into a special receiver, regardless of the system, escapes him as it does most players. But he made it clear Wednesday that the Bears' offense under Turner is not taking full advantage of his talents.

"It's tough, you know, watching other teams, other offenses," Hester said. "They find ways for other guys to get their hands on the ball better.

"Some plays that we had called during the week [we weren't] able to call it during the game because of certain situations. At the end of the day, they have good plays designed for myself and the other receivers [but] ... you've got to call them in certain situations. Good field position is the key to allowing some of the plays we want to call.

"Certain situations, we just weren't able to make the call."

With three games still left in the season and the Bears one of only eight teams already out of the running for the playoffs, Halas Hall is beginning to resemble that scene in "Seinfeld" when George knocked the women, children and clown out of the way to escape a grease fire.

It would have been easy, for example, for Jay Cutler to ease the pressure on an offensive coordinator who has defended him all season.

Cutler could have said simply, "It's not Ron Turner's fault …" and left out the rest of the sentence, which would have gone something like, "that I consistently make poor decisions and poorer throws."

But he didn't.

[+] EnlargeDevin Hester
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhDevin Hester said there will be big changes with the Bears next season, and the implication is Ron Turner is gone.

And that spoke volumes.

With three games left, the Bears' spoiler role will include potentially spoiling any hope that Turner, head coach Lovie Smith and the rest of the coaching staff have of keeping their jobs. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as a seventh season of a Smith regime is not likely to suddenly produce a balanced offense or revitalize a sloppy defense.

But just in case we were wondering, Cutler and Hester made it clear that the rest of the season is a crapshoot in more ways than one against 7-6 Baltimore, 11-2 Minnesota and even 2-11 Detroit. Assuming that final decisions on coaches' fates have yet to be made and that the Bears can either rally to save at least Smith, if not Turner, or more likely that they can make the decisions easy with a complete self-destruction, their players do not appear especially interested in anything other than saving themselves.

Cutler said he would tell management how he felt about Turner if asked. "But by no means am I going to march up there and tell them what should happen or what's going to happen," Cutler said. "That's up to them. They're going to do the best thing they can for the team and I'm going to try to do my job."

And if he were asked, what would he say about the Bears' offensive coordinator?

"At this point, we're not even going to get into that," Cutler said. "I'm not going to even start going down that road. That's not my job."

Turner said he understood.

"That's not his position to [defend me]," Turner said. "That puts him in a tough spot. Like everybody else, we're just trying to focus on what we can do to get better. … Jay and I have a good relationship, we talk all the time, we communicate about what we're doing, what we want to do. I've got a lot of confidence in him and hopefully he feels the same way."

If he does, he has a funny way of showing it.

Not surprisingly, Turner reacted the same way when asked about Hester anticipating changes.

"It's obvious," Turner said. "They're going to hear that everywhere, and then when you have a disappointing year, that's going to be the talk. So they're going to hear it, we're going to hear it and just go about your business."

Said Smith: "We're grown men. We realize where we are right now."

Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.