The writers at the Chicago Tribune answer key fill in the blank questions about the Chicago Bears.
“Matt Eberflus‘ coaching through 11 games has been ________.
Here’s what I know about Eberflus through 11 games: He has done a good job of being the face of an organization that is completely stripping down the roster with an eye toward the future.
Eberflus has to answer for why the defense is one of the worst in the league. The Bears are tied for 27th in points allowed, can’t stop the run, don’t have a hint of a pass rush and have been a mess on third down. The passing offense remains a work in progress, to put it kindly, and he’s playing with a ton of young players.
That’s a long way of saying it is going to be really difficult to judge Eberflus as a head coach until he’s presented with a better roster.”
“Kane: Worthy of an incomplete grade.
Ultimately the all-business Eberflus — at some point down the line — will be judged on the wins. But it’s hard to judge where this team is headed given the roster he is working with. I know that despite a lack of talent the Bears have stayed close in several losses.”
“Wiederer: He has a lot left to prove.
Eberflus earned deserved praise during the summer for articulating his vision and establishing a standard of effort that he wants his teams to live by. The HITS principle was, pardon the pun, an early hit. And to this point, the Bears have remained competitive and feisty despite having a roster that remains low on top-tier talent and quality depth. The moment also hasn’t seemed too big for Eberflus in terms of game management or situational awareness.”
Personally, I found these answers to be a bit on the “let’s take it easy on the new guy” side of things. Which is, of course, logical. But I do think that we have good reason to be more critical on some specific issues that are talent-independent.
I like Eberflus and I’m trying to be patient and to give him a chance. But in no way have I been convinced that he’s going to be the head coach that I thought he was going to be when they hired him. I expected the new coaching staff to maximize the talent on the roster. To me, that didn’t necessarily mean winning games. However, the way that they lost them was going to be significant.
I expected the Chicago Bears to be among the most disciplined teams in the league in 2022. I expected them to lose games because they lack talent. But I did not expect them to lose games because they committed turnovers or, especially, because they committed penalties. These are two quantifiable measures that, in my opinion, can be extended to indicate the level of discipline and mistakes in other areas on the field. That is, are the players failing to properly fill their gaps in the run game and/or are there a significant number of broken coverages?
Unfortunately, both the numbers and my eyes indicate that the team is average at best in these aspects of the game.
Right now the Bears are +1 in turnover differential. That puts the Bears in an eight-way tie for ninth place, right in the middle of the league. I could hardly call this a reason why the team is better than expected. Certainly, I would not cal it a reason why they are maximizing the talent on the roster.
The same goes for the 15th ranking in penalties committed, right in the middle of the league. I do not call that maximizing talent. Certainly its nothing to brag about when you hope that you have hired a top five or 10 coaching staff.
I’m hoping that Eberflus can turn this around with time. Perhaps it’s just a question of coaching a very young team that is still making mistakes that no coach could be expected to correct.
But having said that, I have my doubts. New coaching staffs have a major advantage in that they have no connection to most of the guys on the team. Players don’t know where they stand and that causes them to concentrate harder and make fewer mistakes, not more. The Bears stats are, therefore, probably higher than they would be with a staff that has been around for a year or two, the situation the Bears will be in next year.
Eberflus has reportedly been spending significant time in the quarterback meeting room, which I think is good. But I’m starting to think that he should be taking more of a direct hand in coaching the Bears 27th ranked defense. He’s a proven coordinator on that side of the ball and I’m starting to wonder if Alan Williams can get the team to execute with fewer mistakes in the way that Eberflus has in the past.
I think that installation of better discipline on the field should be a priority for this team, or at least for this coaching staff, over the course of the remainder of the season. This, ultimately, will be the proof of what kind of head coach Eberflus is and what kind of staff he has hired.