When it comes to Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus, the Bears could really use some luck
The franchise has made lots of bad decisions over the years. Now it needs help in the good-fortune department.
Do you want the good news or the bad news first about the Bears’ general manager and coach hires? Sure, of course, what was I thinking? You’re hopeful people. The good news:
It’s all about guesswork and luck.
Now the bad news:
It’s all about guesswork and luck.
My Twitter feed is filled with people arguing about whether the Bears did the right thing in hiring a defensive coordinator, Matt Eberflus, as coach when the prospect of success for the team appears to rest on whether Justin Fields turns out to be a good quarterback.
Hiring a coach with a background in offense made more sense to me, especially with all four head coaches left in the NFL playoffs being offensive-minded. Seems like a trend, a good one.
But wait! The other side says the Bears already went that route with Marc Trestman and Matt Nagy, and look where it got the team. The best man this time around was a defensive coordinator, the pro-Eberflus crowd screams. The most amazing thing about any of this is that there’s already a pro-Eberflus crowd. Three weeks ago, few people in Chicago would have been able to tell you who Eberflus and new Bears general manager Ryan Poles were. Now too many people know where the men buy their suits and what their favorite Life Saver flavor is.
Both sides are missing the point, which is that the whole thing is a crapshoot. All of it. Poles could turn out to be the second coming of Jim Finks or he could be a carbon copy of Ryan Pace, his unsuccessful predecessor. Eberflus could turn out to be George Halas or Dick Jauron. The long line of fired NFL GMs and coaches indicates that the crapshoot is not in the favor of the one rolling the dice. The McCaskeys’ filament-thin playoff résumé indicates that . . . uh-oh.
Nobody knows what’s going to happen here, not even Hall of Famer Bill Polian, who led the Bears’ search for a general manager and coach. His presence lent weight and legitimacy to the proceedings. He’s the guy who drafted Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf for the Colts in 1998.
But as I’ve pointed out a million times, these are the Bears, whose guesswork the last 30 years has been poor and whose luck has been poorer. There’s a decent chance that, just by being exposed to the Bears, Polian has lost all his football acumen. Science calls this long-haul McCaskid.
The skeptical Bears observer, the one who has been through much pain and suffering, knows that arguing about whether the team should have hired a defensive- or offensive-minded coach is like arguing about the color of a coffin.
The optimistic Bears fan is finding all sorts of things to be excited about with Poles and Eberflus.
Poles spent the last 13 years working for the Chiefs, meaning he had a hand in building the 2019 Super Bowl winner, the 2020 Super Bowl runner-up and the 2021 team that finds itself in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game. Was it a Shaq-sized hand or a Danny DeVito-sized hand? We’re not sure yet. But at least there’s hope.
Eberflus was the coordinator of a good Colts defense the last four seasons. Maybe he can give a boost to what was an underachieving Bears defense in 2021.
If you’re the type of person who sees the glass half-full, you see Bill Belichick when you look at Eberflus.
If you’re the type of person who sees the glass in bits on the floor because it’s the Bears, you see Matt Patricia when you look at Eberflus.
The question is how much you believe in luck. I’m sure Polian would argue vociferously that luck has nothing to do with anything. His ability to find players and coaches put him in the Hall of Fame. But his involvement in the Bears’ hiring process will put to the test the idea that the franchise is doomed as long as the McCaskey family owns it. His insight and shrewdness might have met their match in these people.
So guesswork and luck. The good news and the bad news.
Who really knows? It’s why fans keep coming back to the Bears, I assume. The anger has receded from chairman George McCaskey’s painfully clunky news conference earlier this month, when he discussed the firing of Pace and Nagy. What has taken the place of some of that anger? A bit of hope, from the looks of it. Some of you think Poles and Eberflus might be the answer. Some of you are excited about the possibility of a new stadium. Some of you already have forgotten a 6-11 season.
And? And here we go again. Maybe this time something different happens. Good luck. I guess.