Why Bears are playing darts, putt putt with prospects at NFL Combine

Why Bears are playing darts, putt putt with prospects originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

There’s only so much an organization can do with a player at the NFL Combine during their team meetings. Coaches will try to assess their football IQ by having them recall and recite plays or concepts. They’ll interview a player to gauge his love of the game, or his potential for leadership. They can be intense sessions for players.

The Bears went a different direction to start their meetings with players at the NFL Combine, though. Instead of going through a grueling interview session, the Bears opened up with some fun and games to both set the players at ease, and to get a glimpse into their competitive spirit.

“I think some of the best players in this league, they’re passionate about football,” said GM Ryan Poles in an interview alongside head coach Matt Eberflus on “Good Morning Football.” “We wanted to see that come out of them. We wanted to see their competitive side come out of them. So we were talking before we got here, and Flus was like, ‘What can we do to loosen the guys up and see if they’ve got a little competitive juice to them?’ So we decided on darts and putt putt.”

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The Bears had the players competing head to head against Bears coaches, not only to kick off their session with some laughs, but also to get a different look at a player’s personality and how competitive they really are.

It will be interesting to hear how these insights affected the Bears’ draft board, if at all. One insight we already have is that these NFL prospects are pretty good on the mini golf course and at the dart board.

“The coaches aren’t so great at it,” said Eberflus. “The players are way better than the coaches, that’s for sure.”

Eberflus has a reputation as an intense coach due to his H.I.T.S. program that demands high intensity and focus from the players. The pace of his practices was similarly intense. But he’s no stranger to fun, either. Eberflus makes sure to reward his players with distinctions like his “90% Club” for players who had no loafs on 90% or more of their play sheets, or his “Ballhawk Award” which recognizes the top takeaway machine on defense.

We’ll see what new fun he comes up with for the Bears in 2023.

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