Matt Eberflus will return as Bears coach in 2024, but 5 offensive assistants — including Luke Getsy — are out

CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears will move into the 2024 season with Matt Eberflus as their coach, a source confirmed to the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday.

However, Eberflus will be in search of new offensive assistants after the team fired offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, running backs coach Omar Young and assistant tight ends coach Tim Zetts, the source said.

The decision to give Eberflus a third season in his first stint as an NFL head coach comes after he helped the Bears make strides, particularly on defense, following a disastrous first four weeks. The Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field to finish the 2023 season 7-10 but more than doubled their three-win total from 2022.

Their finish before Sunday’s loss, along with a strong locker room, likely helped persuade general manager Ryan Poles to move forward with Eberflus. The Bears face several other decisions in the weeks and months ahead, including what to do with their offensive coaching staff, quarterback Justin Fields and the No. 1 draft pick.

Eberflus likely also will be seeking a new defensive coordinator after he didn’t replace Alan Williams midseason. Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower is expected to stay on the staff.

The Bears set a franchise record with 14 losses during Eberflus’ first season in 2022, but he wasn’t in danger of losing his job then as the team was rebuilding its roster. A 10-game losing streak to end the 2022 season turned into a 14-game streak when the Bears started this season 0-4. That start, along with several off-field issues, called into question Eberflus’ job status.

After Poles’ declaration that he wanted the Bears to “take the (NFC) North and never give it back,” the Bears lost their first nine division games under Eberflus and are 2-10 in the NFC North through his two seasons. That included blowing a 12-point, fourth-quarter lead to lose to the Detroit Lions in Week 11.

It was the team’s second major late meltdown this season after a 21-point collapse in a loss to the Denver Broncos. The Bears had a third double-digit collapse in a loss to the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 17.

But the Bears also engineered a turnaround in November and December, winning five of seven games entering Sunday’s loss to the Packers. That included back-to-back NFC North wins against the Minnesota Vikings and Lions.

With Eberflus calling defensive plays and new defensive end Montez Sweat, acquired in a midseason trade, making plays, the Bears defense finished the season with 28 takeaways, including a league-leading 22 interceptions. The Bears allowed just 15.2 points per game from Weeks 13-17.

Firing Getsy and Janocko comes after the Bears finished 20th in total offense with 323.2 yards per game in 2023, including 182.1 passing yards per game (27th).

Eberflus hired Getsy to be his offensive coordinator in January 2022 after Getsy spent seven years in Green Bay, including as the Packers quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator for Aaron Rodgers.

Getsy never had called plays in the NFL, and the Bears offense struggled in the first half of the 2022 season, though they did finish with the top rushing offense in the NFL that year behind a franchise-record year on the ground from Fields.

But Fields was inconsistent in the passing game through his first season and a half under the regime before dislocating his right thumb Oct. 15 and missing four games.

Fields was better after returning from his injury Nov. 19, cutting down on sacks and turnovers while making improvements in the passing game and his fourth-quarter play.

But that progress wasn’t apparent Sunday against the Packers, who held the Bears without a touchdown. The Bears netted just 192 yards, including 148 passing yards from Fields, who was sacked five times.

“If it’s at 27, it’s not where it needs to be, right?” Eberflus said of the passing game late last month. “It’s got to get the downfield, explosive throws. How you score in the NFL is to get explosive passes and explosive runs. That’s what you need to do.”

Now Poles and Eberflus will look to find a new fit with either Fields or a quarterback they draft.

Janocko joined the Bears after seven years with the Vikings, for whom he had served as quarterbacks coach for Kirk Cousins in 2021.

Tolbert, a 20-year NFL coaching veteran, oversaw a career season from wide receiver DJ Moore in 2023. But Darnell Mooney’s production fell off sharply over the last two seasons, and aside from Moore, no wide receiver had more than 31 catches this year.

Offensive line coach Chris Morgan and tight ends coach Jim Dray remain on the Bears staff.

Eberflus, 53, joined the Bears in January 2022 after 13 years as an NFL coordinator and assistant coach and 17 years as a college assistant. He was the Indianapolis Colts' defensive coordinator for four seasons before Poles, a first-time GM, gave him his first head coaching shot, replacing Matt Nagy.

The Bears interviewed at least 10 coaching candidates while simultaneously interviewing GMs, and then Poles picked Eberflus from his coaching finalists, citing his experience, passion, character and attention to detail.

Eberflus introduced his HITS principle — hustle, intensity, takeaways (and avoiding turnovers on offense) and situational smarts — right away and referred to it often over his first season, though the results didn’t show up until late in 2023.

Along with the on-field issues, the Bears had several controversies off the field in 2023. They were secretive about Williams’ Week 3 resignation, which sources told the Tribune was conduct-related. The Bears also fired running backs coach David Walker on Nov. 1 for what the team said was a failure to meet its standard for appropriate workplace behavior. Young took over for Walker after he was fired.

The Bears traded wide receiver Chase Claypool — initially expected to be one of Fields’ key targets this season — after benching him in Weeks 4 and 5 for not meeting team standards on and off the field. The way Eberflus fumbled answers to questions from reporters about such situations didn’t always help smooth things over publicly.

But the multiple controversies didn’t appear to fracture the locker room, and players continued to play hard.

On the Bears pregame radio show Sunday, Poles complimented Eberflus’ ability to steady the team amid the drama.

“His ability to adapt and adjust, really take input from the players to get this thing on the right path was incredible, where I think a lot of people would have been in really bad shape and crumbled to the pressure,” Poles said. “He got better with the pressure, and so did our football team.”

Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren said at a charity event Friday that the team would take a “big-picture, methodical look” at the coaching situation after the season. He noted that he liked the energy with which the team was operating despite having missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

“It’s not only on game day. It’s around the practices, around Halas Hall. Just the energy, you all see it in the locker room,” Warren said. “Guys are playing hard. They’re competing. And so we’ll continually just build forward as a franchise.

“But I’m just really energized as a franchise where we are, with what we have going on with the stadium, what we have going on internally, just building our brand, and what we have going on with our football team.”