Bears hire a Matt Eberflus when they should’ve hired an offensive guru to guide Justin Fields
The former Colts defensive coordinator will need lots of help on the side of the ball called “offense.’’
Well, this is going to be hell on headline writers. What is this newspaper supposed to do with new Bears coach Matt Eberflus? You know, the newspaper that recently gave you the tortured and brilliant “Robbin’ Some Caruso’’ after the Bucks’ Grayson Allen knocked the Bulls’ Alex Caruso out for six to eight weeks with a flagrant foul?
We won’t be able to use the headline “Eberflush” after a bad coaching decision costs the Bears a game or “Ebernezer Scrooge” following a Bears’ loss on Christmas. Why not? Because his name is pronounced “EE-ber-floos.’’
“Blue ’floos’’ after the Bears’ look sickly in another loss to the Packers? “Roger, Eber’’ after a big victory? I see a headline wall being hit very, very soon.
This is what I worry about. That and can he coach?
Does Eberflus, the Colts defensive coordinator, have any familiarity with the part of the sport called “offense”? Is he offended by the mere idea of Justin Fields, or any quarterback?
It’s not good to be underwhelmed and perplexed at the same time, but that’s where I am today. The Bears hired a defensive coordinator when all of nature cried out for someone with a background in offense after watching how bad the Bears were under former coach Matt Nagy. If the whole idea is to find out how good Fields can be, hiring a defensive coordinator to be head coach would seem to suggest that we’ve had it wrong all along. The idea apparently is to find out how good a strong safety Fields can be.
I said in my last column that I’d give new general Ryan Poles the benefit of the doubt. And I’ll give Eberflus the benefit of the doubt as well. But he had better find a genius for an offensive coordinator.
You get the coach you deserve, and the Bears got an Eberflus. That’s not necessarily a shot at the 51-year-old coach — though it might end up being one. This is not one of the top franchises in the NFL, and many of the people trying to knock down the door to get the Bears’ general manager and head coaching jobs were not exactly household names. Team chairman George McCaskey will tell you otherwise when he meets the media to introduce his new hires, including Poles. He’ll wax poetic about the Bears’ head coaching position being a primo destination job. He’ll be wrong again.
Eberflus was the mind behind the Colts’ excellent defenses of the past few years, so there’s that. And people do speak highly of him, possibly because they think he’s a great coach and possibly because that’s what people do when reporters call looking for anecdotes about a new coach. People also had a lot of nice things to say about Nagy until he forgot what running backs do and how to get the most out of a young, athletic quarterback.
Eberflus is going to need a ton of help from Poles, who has his work cut out for him in adding talent on the offensive side of the ball. There was plenty of blame to go around for the struggles on offense the past several years — Nagy’s play-calling, below-average quarterbacks, a bad offensive line — but much of it could be traced to former general manager Ryan Pace, who did a poor job of finding good players. He should have been fired after the line allowed Fields to be sacked nine times against the Browns in his first NFL start.
But these are the Bears, and there would be no firings during the season, no matter how bad 2021 would get. And now Bears fans have two great hopes: that this Eberflus fellow knows what he’s doing and that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers goes to another team in another division. It says something about the entire situation when you know which of the two is, by far, the greater hope.
It’s going to take a good amount of luck to offset the oddness that has been allowed to make a home for itself at Halas Hall.
Only the Bears would fire two guys named Ryan and Matt and replace them with two guys named Ryan and Matt. Ryan Poles replaces Ryan Pace, and Matt Eberflus replaces Matt Nagy. It means nothing, of course, has no deeper significance, but really? So strange, and so Bears.
We’ll give Eberflus a chance because we’re kind people, but we’ll hold back on the enthusiasm because we have been around the McCaskeys much, much too long.