Bears keeping Matt Eberflus more of same from franchise that refuses to think big

Bears keeping Matt Eberflus more of same from franchise that refuses to think big originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After more than 48 hours of meetings for what president and CEO Kevin Warren said would be a "big-picture, methodical" evaluation, the Bears landed on the path that gives them the narrowest margin for success.

On Wednesday, the Bears fired offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, and running backs coach Omar Young in an almost full cleanout of the offensive staff.

In doing so, the Bears signaled their plans to keep head coach Matt Eberflus for a third season, putting the coach, franchise, and quarterback (whomever that might be) in a difficult position to succeed.

Assuming the Bears are bringing Eberflus without a contract extension, they'll be asking him to win in what surely will be a hot-seat season. That will make Eberlfus' job of hiring a desirable, competent offensive staff extremely difficult. If you're a highly-coveted offensive coordinator candidate, why would you want to go to a place where you and your staff might be out of a job in a year?

Getsy failed to craft a consistent, explosive offense that meshed with quarterback Justin Fields' strengths. Getsy and Fields were never an ideal pairing, and that led to a disjointed offensive attack with bad spacing, poor rhythm and timing, a severe lack of execution, and no clear plan.

The Bears' decision to keep Eberflus but fire the offensive staff is another small potatoes move by an organization that fails to think big and act like the charter franchise it touts itself as.

In keeping Eberflus but changing the offensive staff, the Bears are doing one of two things: Either they are going to ask Fields to learn a third system in four seasons, or they are going to draft a rookie quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick to pair with a coach on the hot seat.

Both are losing propositions.

Fields' improvement as a passer this year resulted from many things. First, Fields deserves the credit for putting in the countless hours needed to work on his footwork, mechanics, timing, and developing a deep understanding of Getsy's system, what the OC wanted, why things were called, and the overall plan of attack and his role in it. Fields spoke this year about how the continuity and being in the same system for two straight seasons helped lead to his Year 3 growth. It would be unfair to ask Fields to learn a new system again but take another leap toward franchise quarterback status in 2024. It takes a full year to understand and become an expert in a system and understand the verbiage. That's a lot to ask of a quarterback who has 38 career starts but is still trying to prove he's franchise quarterback material.

Conversely, the Bears would just be perpetuating a losing cycle by letting Eberflus be at the helm for Year 1 of the Caleb Williams or Drake Maye era, only to fire him the next offseason. The Bears did that with John Fox and Mitch Trubisky, and again with Matt Nagy and Fields.

They are never aligned in the coach-quarterback-coordinator realm, and it's why they will continue to flounder and fail no matter how hard they thrash against the current of their own idiocy.

There is a scenario where the Bears' power brokers are comfortable bringing Eberflus back without a win-now/playoffs mandate in 2024, but that should be clearly signaled with either a contract extension or an outright statement at the end-of-season press conference.

As for Ryan Poles, the Bears general manager has now backed himself into a corner and handcuffed himself to Eberflus, a coach he had a hand in hiring but was not seen as his clear choice.

Poles now must either decide to draft Williams or Maye, hand him to Eberflus, hope the rookie and offensive staff mesh quickly and there is a minimal learning curve, and pray that the improvements the Bears made in the back half of a season weren't a mirage and a leap from 7 wins to 10 is possible. If all those boxes aren't checked, he'll have to fire Eberflus and give his prized quarterback a new coach while placing himself on the hot seat. The other option is to stick with Fields, put all his chips behind a quarterback he didn't draft, and potentially sign his own firing papers if Williams blossoms as league evaluators expect.

The Bears had an opportunity this offseason to think big—a chance to raise the bar from "good enough" to willing to play for keeps. The hiring of Warren seemed to signal the Bears were finally ready to play with the big boys. Ready to make the tough decisions needed to get where they always claim they want to go.

Instead, they did what they always do. They thought small, and their seemingly bright future has dimmed because of their inability, unwillingness, and refusal to do what is necessary to set themselves up for long-term success instead of stepping on the "mom and pop franchise" rake they have for the majority of the past 40 years.

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