One week after deciding to retain coach Matt Eberflus and fireplace offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and 4 different assistants, the Chicago Bears are already knee-deep in offseason drama.
Who will exchange Getsy? Will the Bears draft Caleb Williams or one other quarterback at No. 1, or will they commerce down? And what is going to develop into of Justin Fields? The questions aren’t letting up, and as he does each Wednesday, the Tribune’s Brad Biggs takes a swing at answering them.
Everyone is so targeted on this large QB determination, however given the weird quantity of Super Bowl-achieving coaches accessible, don’t you assume we might all be trying again in three or 4 years saying that could possibly be the most important miss from this offseason? — @jjg3434
It’s a good query with such a set of completed head coaches accessible, together with Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh and Mike Vrabel. Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is coveted, and there are different sizzling names reminiscent of Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, making it a captivating hiring cycle.
Seven groups presently have openings (the New England Patriots already crammed their emptiness by selling Jerod Mayo), and there could possibly be extra within the subsequent week as playoff groups — assume the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles — take into account modifications after dangerous playoff losses. Carroll may not be the one shock too. Will the Kansas City Chiefs’ Andy Reid retire on the finish of the season? That’s kind of an annual query now as he turns 66 subsequent month.
I doubt you’ll have to attend three or 4 years to know if the Bears made the suitable name in sticking with Matt Eberflus. We’ll see in one other 12 months or two if the staff is on the sort of upward trajectory that results in sustained success.
The Bears didn’t determine to maintain Eberflus with out thought and reflection. They spent two days in conferences at Halas Hall after the season ended, considering the subsequent step. Everyone knew Harbaugh would probably be accessible. That’s on the market each January, proper? Many figured Belichick could be out in New England, and there have been rumors for a number of weeks that each one wasn’t nicely in Nashville for Vrabel. It’s not like normal supervisor Ryan Poles reached his conclusion with out realizing choices could be accessible.
Some criticized Poles for saying final week that he didn’t attain out to Harbaugh to debate the potential for returning to the Bears. I don’t assume that was ever a sensible possibility. Big Ten soccer coaches didn’t have the very best relationship with Bears President/CEO Kevin Warren when he was the convention commissioner. I perceive why the query was requested, however put your self in Poles’ footwear for a second. Even if he did attain out to Harbaugh — and I imagine him when he says he didn’t — consider the can of worms he’d crack open if he mentioned, “Yeah, I had an exploratory call with Jim, but I am confident in the decision to keep Matt.”
That would put the coach sitting subsequent to him on the information convention on the recent seat on Day 3 of the offseason. Until Harbaugh’s standing is resolved, there would have been nonstop hypothesis: “What if there’s another call and they can lure Jim back to Lake Forest? What if Vrabel wants to come to Chicago? Hey, Belichick is available now and maybe Poles will call him.” The alternative — whether or not you agree with it or not — was to stay with Eberflus, so the Bears needed to seem all-in with full perception in him as the person to make them the subsequent degree.
Poles defined his rationale behind retaining Eberflus, and now the Bears need to fill out his teaching employees earlier than launching into an thrilling offseason with draft and free-agent potentialities. We’ll know earlier than lengthy whether or not it was the suitable determination. Maybe as early as this time subsequent 12 months. We’ll additionally see what sort of influence a few of these choices make elsewhere.
Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus acknowledged their coordinator roles are extraordinarily wanted even with a coach who appears to be getting into a important third 12 months following large employees turnover and an enormous QB determination. Are you listening to it’s a desired spot for coaches this offseason? — @bwcole
There are solely 32 coordinator jobs on all sides of the ball all through the NFL, so naturally there can be appreciable curiosity. The offensive opening can be extra engaging than the defensive job if Eberflus goes to retain defensive play-calling obligations.
Coaches take into account a ton of things when job openings. Two loom largest, in my view. They are in search of stability, No. 1, and plenty of are in search of upward mobility. So Poles and Eberflus need to promote the Bears as a scenario constructed on a stable basis. Younger coaches with aspirations of turning into a head coach would possibly have a look at the quarterback scenario, paired with an enhancing protection, as a great spot to boost their resumes. Significant employees turnover on offense — the Bears want to rent place coaches for quarterbacks, large receivers and operating backs — could possibly be seen as a constructive. Any incoming offensive coordinator will need some say within the employees he’s working with.
As I’ve written beforehand, the Bears have a head begin within the course of over groups going by way of a complete employees overhaul. They have to maneuver by way of an preliminary wave of interviews, establish a smaller pool of finalists after which rank the candidates they need most. At that time, they should attempt to get somebody to decide.
What conclusions do you draw from the names Shane Waldron, Greg Olson, Liam Coen and Klint Kubiak which were floated for the offensive coordinator job? Do they run comparable methods as Luke Getsy? Putting QB apart, would this imply something for continuity for the remainder of the offensive personnel? — @gregfeltes
There’s loads to unpack right here, and we are able to add the title of Greg Roman to the listing. The 4 you talked about fall below the Sean McVay-Kyle Shanahan teaching tree. Waldron, Olson and Coen all labored for McVay with the Rams. Kubiak has been the San Francisco 49ers passing sport coordinator below Shanahan this season.
With these 4, you’re loads of base similarities to what the Bears did below Getsy, who labored for Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur, one other product of the McVay-Shanahan tree. Looking at McVay’s offense particularly, the operating sport is the inspiration with loads of formation versatility, movement, motion, misdirection and outlined throws off play motion. All of that may make it a quarterback-friendly system. McVay leans much more on pre-snap motion than the Bears did below Getsy. Maybe there are legitimate causes Getsy didn’t need loads of transferring elements earlier than the snap, nevertheless it’s a component you constantly see with McVay.
Roman, a former offensive coordinator for the Ravens and 49ers, is the outlier on this group. He has a really superior operating sport and had a ton of success on the bottom in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson and in San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick. His offense will be tough to organize for as a result of it has loads happening: downhill energy, zone, misdirection. One knock on Roman’s passing sport is it’s too vertically based mostly. He had some poor large receiver teams in Baltimore, however his floor video games have virtually at all times been elite.
This is a crucial rent for Matt Eberflus. He wants to search out somebody with a imaginative and prescient that aligns along with his, a coach who brings a confirmed playbook but additionally has the flexibility to adapt to what the roster seems to be like after the draft. I’ll reiterate what I’ve written lately: It’s a very necessary determination, however the quarterback pulling the set off is in the end extra necessary than who is asking performs.
You can take the elite quarterbacks and drop them in any scheme for any play caller they usually’re going to excel and make the gamers round them higher. You put the very best play callers and schematic wizards with lower-tier quarterbacks and your offense will battle. I’m not minimizing the importance of the coordinator determination, however I’m reinforcing that in the end it’s about expertise on the sector. That’s why loads of coaches will inform you it’s extra about Jimmys and Joes than X’s and O’s.
Now that Caleb Williams has declared for the draft, who’s the most definitely to be the primary quarterback chosen? — Todd M., Schererville, Ind.
There’s a ton of labor to be performed by loads of groups, the Bears included, that is perhaps available in the market for a passer. Right now, each indication I get is that Williams is the prohibitive favourite. But the draft is greater than three months away and many can shift, particularly with Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, Michael Penix Jr., J.J. McCarthy and Bo Nix within the combine. We’ll need to see if the Bears stick at No. 1.
Odds the Bears lastly make an look on “Hard Knocks” this summer time? — O.C., Rockford
Never say by no means. Before we dive into this, I’ll remind you each time the subject of the HBO collection has come up, the Bears have expressed zero curiosity in collaborating. My hunch is Chairman George McCaskey would reasonably trip this summer time in Green Bay than watch his staff’s internal workings aired throughout coaching camp.
Because groups are reluctant to ask intrusive parts throughout camp, the league adopted pointers that depart a couple of groups it may possibly coerce into showing on “Hard Knocks.” Any staff that doesn’t meet certainly one of these three components will be chosen:
- Has a first-year head coach.
- Has reached the playoffs in one of many final two seasons.
- Has appeared on “Hard Knocks” within the earlier 10 years.
Five groups can not test any of those bins: the Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints. The Cardinals and Colts have been featured on an offshoot, in-season model of “Hard Knocks.” I don’t know if that enables them to be excluded.
In an ideal world, a staff will volunteer to look on “Hard Knocks.” If not, somebody can be tapped on the shoulder. The league selected the New York Jets for the drama with quarterback Aaron Rodgers final summer time when the Bears have been certainly one of 4 groups that would have been compelled to do the present.
If the Bears draft Caleb Williams at No. 1 after which each OTs, Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, Brock Bowers and Rome Odunze are passed by No. 9, what do the Bears do? — @wiseguyfb
That appears unlikely for 2 causes. First, in your hypothetical, solely two quarterbacks could be chosen within the high eight picks. Considering the variety of groups with a urgent quarterback challenge within the high 10 — and the highest half of the primary spherical — I believe it’s probably no less than three go within the first eight picks.
Just within the high eight, the Bears, Washington Commanders, Patriots, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons have severe quarterback points. You can’t rule out the likelihood the Cardinals or Tennessee Titans could possibly be lurking if a quarterback they love is obtainable. That’s with out contemplating groups that would commerce into the highest eight to pick a quarterback, a gaggle that features however is just not restricted to the Minnesota Vikings, Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Saints and Seattle Seahawks.
The different challenge is draft historical past. Going again to the NFL/AFL merger in 1970, there has by no means been a draft wherein three large receivers got here off the board within the first eight picks. In truth, two receivers have gone within the first eight picks solely 15 instances. There have been two drafts wherein three large receivers have been chosen within the first 9 picks: 2017 (Nos. 5, 7 and 9) and 2003 (Nos. 3, 7 and 9).
This shapes as much as be a terrific receiver class, and logic tells me if the Bears keep at No. 9, they’ll probably have a chance to decide on the third receiver off the board if GM Ryan Poles desires to go that route.
I suppose it’s attainable Bowers, the Georgia tight finish, slides out of the highest eight and there’s an early run on large receivers, but when the Bears are choosing at No. 9, I’m assured they’ll have a few intriguing choices — together with the likelihood they might get the primary defensive participant off the board.
After watching the Packers and Lions play this previous weekend within the playoffs, it positive seems to be prefer it’s going to be a protracted, onerous climb to “take the North and never give it back.” It’s shaping as much as be a extremely aggressive division for years to return. What do you consider that? — @mkrivich
The NFC North ought to be one of many higher divisions within the league subsequent season. The Lions (12-5 this season) are professional and have drafted very nicely below GM Brad Holmes. The Packers completed 9-8 and had some bumpy factors of their season, however their file might have been considerably higher contemplating 5 losses got here by 4 factors or fewer. They have the youngest roster within the league, and quarterback Jordan Love seems to be like he could possibly be a nightmare for North rivals for seasons to return.
If the Vikings re-sign quarterback Kirk Cousins, they’re no less than going to be aggressive, and I believe coach Kevin O’Connell does a very good job. If the Bears get the quarterback place discovered — that’s at all times the large IF in these elements — they are going to be within the combine. If not, it’s going to be a slog to take care of tempo with the Lions and Packers.
Do you assume a dedication on drafting a QB at No. 1 and probably buying and selling Justin Fields occurs by the beginning of the league 12 months? — @jtbcubs
The Bears aren’t in a rush to make any choices, and which means doing their due diligence at professional days, personal exercises and top-30 visits to Halas Hall. Remember what Ryan Poles mentioned final week. He desires to get to know the whole lot about potential quarterbacks. That course of will carry by way of March and certain spill into the start of April.
It’s attainable Poles can have a reasonably good indication of which course he’s leaning by mid-March, however I anticipate him to be actually methodical so we’d not have greater than small clues to go on by then. Certainly if the Bears are inquisitive about buying and selling Fields, they’ll need a while to work by way of that course of earlier than the draft kicks off April 25.
Is there any lifelike likelihood of the Bears getting the Falcons’ eighth general choose for Justin Fields? Not positive why some NFL speaking heads appear to assume it is a chance. If not that choose, is a second-round choose affordable? — @seshwann
I’d be shocked if the Bears have been capable of commerce Fields for a first-round choose and surprised in the event that they acquired one within the high 10. The Falcons drafted tight finish Kyle Pitts with the fourth choose in 2021, when Fields got here out of Ohio State, they usually have been the primary staff to go on a quarterback after Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance went 1-2-3. GM Terry Fontenot was in cost then, they usually had a chance to draft the Georgia-raised Fields at a time when it was clear veteran Matt Ryan was nearing the tip of his profession.
The Falcons have to rent a head coach to switch Arthur Smith earlier than they chart a course for the offseason, and Fontenot continues to be in place. I believe it’s much more probably the Falcons would select to draft a quarterback at No. 8 than use that choose to amass Fields.
If the Bears select to commerce Fields, you’re in all probability a second-round choose or maybe a third-rounder and alter in return. There is a situation wherein Fields stays put, however I believe that occurs provided that the Bears commerce down from No. 1 earlier than drafting a quarterback. If they select one at No. 1, I’d wager on Fields being moved.
Now that the season is over, what number of “blue” gamers do you imagine are presently on the roster? It looks as if Jaylon Johnson and DJ Moore are there. Maybe additionally Montez Sweat. Is there anybody you assume is an effective candidate to take an enormous step subsequent season? — @hcrestesq
Johnson and Moore actually performed to a blue, or top-line, degree this season. Johnson was not in that echelon getting into 2023, and he’ll need to proceed to play at an elite degree to be thought of in that class.
Moore was simply outdoors of blue territory earlier than the season within the estimation of expertise evaluators I spoke to. I believe it’s protected to say he has reached that threshold. Are there higher receivers on the market? Sure. But Moore is a superb all-around performer. There aren’t any holes in his sport.
Sweat might be on the perimeter of turning into a blue participant as nicely. He was wonderful after the Bears traded for him midseason and raised the profile of the gamers round him. Looking forward, the Bears are hoping proper deal with Darnell Wright can enhance considerably. Quite a lot of different youthful gamers on the roster even have room to develop.
Why was Cliff Stein let go? Andrew Billings and T.J. Edwards are arguably two of the very best worth contracts signed in free company final 12 months by any staff. — @ericbonow
My assumption is President/CEO Kevin Warren has a alternative in thoughts to deal with the online of authorized points that NFL groups take care of. Matt Feinstein was employed as director of soccer administration in 2022, and that job has him managing the wage cap and negotiating contracts. Stein performed a job in that course of in that first 12 months, serving to Feinstein alongside, nevertheless it was extra Feinstein doing that work this season.
Stein was a proficient and well-liked worker at Halas Hall for practically 22 years. There has been an expectation for a while that Warren will make some main modifications, and eradicating a senior vice chairman with a protracted monitor file of devoted service to the group qualifies. It could possibly be the primary in a collection of strikes, however I’d guess no less than some throughout the franchise have been caught off guard a bit.
The Luke Getsy firing is powerful proof the Bears are transferring on from Justin Fields. If they have been optimistic about Fields’ trajectory, it will be an implicit endorsement of Getsy and his work and relationship with Fields. Dropping Getsy, and transferring to a brand new coordinator, signifies they’re not happy with and even hopeful about Fields’ progress. They should nonetheless attain conviction on a rookie QB, however cleansing home of the offensive employees clearly reads as doubt about Fields reasonably than a transfer to unlock Fields’ potential. — Dennis R.
Not positive what the query is right here, however I disagree along with your assertion. I believe there’s extra nuance to the choice on Getsy and the continuing technique of determining what to do with Fields and the quarterback place transferring ahead. There’s usually a cause-and-effect relationship between strikes, however issues aren’t at all times tied collectively so carefully.
The Bears didn’t drive the Packers to punt one time within the last sport and in addition managed to carry them to lower than 20 factors. I’d wish to assume that’s fairly uncommon. When’s the final time the Bears had a stat like that? — Jacob Okay., Berwyn
Good query. The final time the Bears held an opponent to 17 or fewer factors with out forcing a punt was a 13-10 loss to the Packers on Sept. 24, 1967. Before that, it’s important to return to 1945, once they misplaced to the Lions 16-10 and the Cleveland Rams 17-0.
Is it the teaching philosophy that retains Bears QBs from growing into franchise quarterbacks? Matt Eberflus stresses ball safety in each press convention, as have virtually all earlier coaches. I can perceive why younger QBs get gun-shy about dangerous small-window throws or throwing a receiver open with this emphasis. Is this why Chicago is the place QBs go to die? — Jeff J., Wyoming, Mich.
Ball safety is simply as paramount for Andy Reid with Patrick Mahomes as it’s for Kyle Shanahan with Brock Purdy and John Harbaugh with Lamar Jackson. Turnover margin is the one best indicator of success week in and week out within the NFL. If you’re giving the opponent too many possessions, some with advantageous area place, it’s going to be an uphill climb to victory. I perceive your level, however ball safety is Job 1 for any quarterback.