"We're in this together," Epstein said ahead of the Cubs' game against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. "Joe has been remarkably consistent. I'm not going to sit and say this is about him. I look at it collectively."
The Cubs entered play Saturday at 46-42 and a half-game back of the NL Central-leading Brewers. Epstein views his club's recent troubles as organizational issues.
"In broad strokes first, we are all in this together," Epstein said. "One of the hallmarks of this organization is we have each other's backs. Anyone who is in there to take credit when things are going well should be there as a leader when we are going through any of our downturns. You don't see people running away from responsibility. Ultimately, everything in baseball operations is my responsibility. If we are not getting the results we wanted, in every meaningful way that ends with me. It is my job. I selected the players and coaches. I selected Joe. I get the say in what happens in baseball operations. If we are underperforming, that is absolutely on me."
In a honest interview on 670 The Score on Wednesday that drew headlines across the baseball landscape, Epstein was hard on everyone, Maddon included. His tone has evolved a bit by Saturday.
"Right now, we are in a collective slump," Epstein said. "We are not playing in a way I feel represents who we are. It has gone on for a while. So we are all searching for answers. We are looking for every lever we can pull to get the thing going in the right direction."
Maddon wasn't left off the hook entirely Saturday as Epstein did admit the quality of the team's play has been surprisingly poor.
"The sloppiness has surprised all of us," Epstein said. "For many years when we are at our best, we play alert, focused, prepared type baseball. We make the plays we are supposed to make. We need to play focused, prepared baseball, keeping the mental mistakes to a minimum. That has kind of got us lately. We have to shake that to get where we are going."
Epstein was asked about the performance of himself and general manager Jed Hoyer in leading the front office.
"Front offices can go in slumps," Epstein said. "Sometimes you go through Murphy's law period -- everything that can go wrong does go wrong. The same thing can happen with front offices. I believe in this group. I believe in this organization. I think good times are ahead. There are cycles that come and go. The key is not to let the down periods cut at the fabric of the organization."