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Jim Harbaugh should be Ryan Poles' first answer to uneasy Bears questions

Jim Harbaugh should be Ryan Poles' first answer to uneasy Bears questions originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

As Black Monday claimed its victims across the NFL, Jim Harbaugh bathed in maize and blue confetti in Houston after leading Michigan to a 15-0 season and a College Football National Championship.

His next step is unclear, as is the Bears'.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there has been no announcement about the future of head coach Matt Eberflus. Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles conducted nine hours of meetings with players on Monday. Meetings with the Bears' power brokers continued on Tuesday at Halas Hall.

The NFL mandates the Bears to hold a press conference within a week of the season ending. Last year, that press conference was conducted Tuesday with Poles and Eberflus sitting side by side, plotting their course together.

While there has been no formal announcement about Eberflus' future, both Poles and president and CEO Kevin Warren have praised the culture and energy inside the building. Poles commended Eberflus for being steadfast during the Bears' 0-4 start, helping keep the ship afloat and turning a trainwreck into a 7-10 season.

Signs have pointed to Eberflus coming back for Year 3 for some time. But there has been no formal announcement, and the Bears' 17-9 season-ending loss to the Green Bay Packers should make Poles take a long look at the improvement that was made this season, whether it's real or a mirage, and what the ceiling is for the Bears as currently constructed.

Yes, the Bears finished the season 7-6 after an 0-4 start. They also blew three double-digit, fourth-quarter leads, and the list of quarterbacks they beat isn't exactly Murderer's Row. As Jordan Love diced up a Bears' defense without Jaylon Johnson on Sunday, the thought should have crept into Poles' head that Eberflus' late-season success was more about the quality of the opponent than anything Eberflus did.

There should be some uncomfortable questions this offseason at Halas Hall starting this week with Eberflus.

Hiring Harbaugh, meeting his asking price and roster-control demands, should be an easy answer to the first one, should the former Bears quarterback be interested in coming.

All Harbaugh does is win. He wins everywhere he goes and doesn't stop until he does.

He took a non-scholarship University of San Diego program to their first conference championships in program history in his second and third seasons with the program. He took Stanford from 1-11 to 12-1 Orange Bowl champions in Year 4. He was given a middling 6-10 49ers team and took them to three straight NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl berth. He beat Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs in both 2012 and 2013. Harbaugh returned to Michigan and took a 5-7 team to 10 wins in Year 1 and topped it off with a national title Monday night.

Harbaugh said he didn't want to discuss his future Monday night. But he hired famed NFL agent Don Yee. That move says more than a "can't a guy enjoy one day" at a confetti-filled press conference.

Harbaugh should be in high demand this offseason from the NFL. The Bears shouldn't look at a 7-10 record as a reason not to chase the big whale, especially one with a connection to their storied franchise.

The Bears need to raise the standard for their franchise. This past season wasn't good enough. The Bears are building something, but there were too many red flags to take a 7-10 season with wins over a who's who of unimpressive teams as evidence of progress and hope for sustained success.

The Bears need to want more than not to be a complete train wreck. This offseason should be about wanting to elevate the standard across the board. At quarterback, at offensive coordinator, and at head coach.

If Matt Eberflus returns, it should be because the Bears chased the guy they desperately need and couldn't catch him or he said no.

Not because they refused to jump in the deep end and play with the big fish.

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