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’s going to grow to be 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 centered on this huge QB choice, however given the weird quantity of Super Bowl-achieving coaches out there, don’t you suppose we might all be trying again in three or 4 years saying that may very well be the most important miss from this offseason? — @jjg3434
It’s a good query with such a set of completed head coaches out there, together with Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh and Mike Vrabel. Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is coveted, and there are different scorching names akin to 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 stuffed their emptiness by selling Jerod Mayo), and there may very well be extra within the subsequent week as playoff groups — suppose the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles — take into account modifications after dangerous playoff losses. Carroll won’t be the one shock too. Will the Kansas City Chiefs’ Andy Reid retire on the finish of the season? That’s form 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 workforce is on the sort of upward trajectory that results in sustained success.
The Bears didn’t resolve 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 doubtlessly be out there. 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 out there.
Some criticized Poles for saying final week that he didn’t attain out to Harbaugh to debate the potential of returning to the Bears. I don’t suppose that was ever a practical possibility. Big Ten soccer coaches didn’t have the most effective 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’ sneakers 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 stated, “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 selection — 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 stage.
Poles defined his rationale behind retaining Eberflus, and now the Bears should fill out his teaching workers 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 choice. Maybe as early as this time subsequent 12 months. We’ll additionally see what sort of impression 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 coming into a essential third 12 months following large workers turnover and an enormous QB choice. Are you listening to it’s a desired spot for coaches this offseason? — @bwcole
There are solely 32 coordinator jobs on either side 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 duties.
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 lots of are in search of upward mobility. So Poles and Eberflus should promote the Bears as a state of affairs constructed on a stable basis. Younger coaches with aspirations of turning into a head coach would possibly have a look at the quarterback state of affairs, paired with an enhancing protection, as a great place to reinforce their resumes. Significant workers turnover on offense — the Bears want to rent place coaches for quarterbacks, huge receivers and working backs — may very well be considered as a optimistic. Any incoming offensive coordinator will need some say within the workers he’s working with.
As I’ve written beforehand, the Bears have a head begin within the course of over groups going via a complete workers overhaul. They have to maneuver via an preliminary wave of interviews, establish a smaller pool of finalists after which rank the candidates they want 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 have been floated for the offensive coordinator job? Do they run comparable techniques 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 will add the identify of Greg Roman to the checklist. The 4 you talked about fall beneath 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 beneath Shanahan this season.
With these 4, you’re loads of base similarities to what the Bears did beneath 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 working 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 beneath Getsy. Maybe there are legitimate causes Getsy didn’t need loads of shifting 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 working sport and had a ton of success on the bottom in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson and in San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick. His offense may be tough to organize for as a result of it has loads occurring: downhill energy, zone, misdirection. One knock on Roman’s passing sport is it’s too vertically based mostly. He had some poor huge receiver teams in Baltimore, however his floor video games have virtually all the time been elite.
This is a vital rent for Matt Eberflus. He wants to search out somebody with a imaginative and prescient that aligns together with his, a coach who brings a confirmed playbook but in addition has the flexibility to adapt to what the roster appears like after the draft. I’ll reiterate what I’ve written just lately: It’s a extremely vital choice, however the quarterback pulling the set off is in the end extra vital 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 most effective play callers and schematic wizards with lower-tier quarterbacks and your offense will battle. I’m not minimizing the importance of the coordinator choice, however I’m reinforcing that in the end it’s about expertise on the sector. That’s why loads of coaches will let you know 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 almost certainly to be the primary quarterback chosen? — Todd M., Schererville, Ind.
There’s a ton of labor to be executed by loads of groups, the Bears included, that may be out there 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 should 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 sequence has come up, the Bears have expressed zero curiosity in collaborating. My hunch is Chairman George McCaskey would fairly trip this summer time in Green Bay than watch his workforce’s interior workings aired throughout coaching camp.
Because groups are reluctant to ask intrusive parts throughout camp, the league adopted tips that go away just a few groups it could actually coerce into showing on “Hard Knocks.” Any workforce that doesn’t meet one in every of these three elements may 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 examine any of those containers: 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 permits them to be excluded.
In an ideal world, a workforce 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 had been one in every of 4 groups that might 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 difficulty within the high 10 — and the highest half of the primary spherical — I believe it’s doubtless not 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 critical quarterback points. You can’t rule out the likelihood the Cardinals or Tennessee Titans may very well be lurking if a quarterback they love is obtainable. That’s with out contemplating groups that might 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 difficulty is draft historical past. Going again to the NFL/AFL merger in 1970, there has by no means been a draft through which three huge receivers got here off the board within the first eight picks. In reality, two receivers have gone within the first eight picks solely 15 occasions. There had been two drafts through which three huge receivers had 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 doubtless have a possibility to decide on the third receiver off the board if GM Ryan Poles needs 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 huge 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 appears prefer it’s going to be a protracted, laborious 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 must be one of many higher divisions within the league subsequent season. The Lions (12-5 this season) are respectable and have drafted very nicely beneath GM Brad Holmes. The Packers completed 9-8 and had some bumpy factors of their season, however their document 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 appears like he may very well be a nightmare for North rivals for seasons to return.
If the Vikings re-sign quarterback Kirk Cousins, they’re not less than going to be aggressive, and I believe coach Kevin O’Connell does a extremely good job. If the Bears get the quarterback place discovered — that’s all the time the massive IF in these elements — they are going to be within the combine. If not, it’s going to be a slog to keep up tempo with the Lions and Packers.
Do you suppose a dedication on drafting a QB at No. 1 and presumably 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 stated final week. He needs to get to know all the pieces about potential quarterbacks. That course of will carry via March and certain spill into the start of April.
It’s attainable Poles may have a fairly good indication of which path he’s leaning by mid-March, however I count on him to be actually methodical so we’d not have greater than small clues to go on by then. Certainly if the Bears are thinking about buying and selling Fields, they’ll need a while to work via that course of earlier than the draft kicks off April 25.
Is there any practical probability of the Bears getting the Falcons’ eighth general decide for Justin Fields? Not positive why some NFL speaking heads appear to suppose it is a risk. If not that decide, is a second-round decide cheap? — @seshwann
I’d be shocked if the Bears had been in a position to commerce Fields for a first-round decide and shocked in the event that they acquired one within the high 10. The Falcons drafted tight finish Kyle Pitts with the fourth decide in 2021, when Fields got here out of Ohio State, they usually had been the primary workforce to cross 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 possibility 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 exchange Arthur Smith earlier than they chart a path for the offseason, and Fontenot continues to be in place. I believe it’s way more doubtless the Falcons would select to draft a quarterback at No. 8 than use that decide to accumulate Fields.
If the Bears select to commerce Fields, you’re most likely a second-round decide or maybe a third-rounder and alter in return. There is a state of affairs through which 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 guess 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 suppose is an efficient candidate to take an enormous step subsequent season? — @hcrestesq
Johnson and Moore definitely performed to a blue, or top-line, stage this season. Johnson was not in that echelon coming into 2023, and he’ll should proceed to play at an elite stage 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 secure 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 glorious after the Bears traded for him midseason and raised the profile of the gamers round him. Looking forward, the Bears are hoping proper sort out 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 most effective worth contracts signed in free company final 12 months by any workforce. — @ericbonow
My assumption is President/CEO Kevin Warren has a substitute in thoughts to deal with the net 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 almost 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 document of devoted service to the group qualifies. It may very well be the primary in a sequence of strikes, however I’d guess not less than some throughout the franchise had been caught off guard a bit.
The Luke Getsy firing is robust proof the Bears are shifting on from Justin Fields. If they had been optimistic about Fields’ trajectory, it might be an implicit endorsement of Getsy and his work and relationship with Fields. Dropping Getsy, and shifting to a brand new coordinator, signifies they’re not glad with and even hopeful about Fields’ progress. They should nonetheless attain conviction on a rookie QB, however cleansing home of the offensive workers clearly reads as doubt about Fields fairly 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 continued technique of determining what to do with Fields and the quarterback place shifting ahead. There’s usually a cause-and-effect relationship between strikes, however issues aren’t all the time tied collectively so carefully.
The Bears didn’t pressure the Packers to punt one time within the closing sport and likewise managed to carry them to lower than 20 factors. I’d prefer to suppose 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, you must return to 1945, after they misplaced to the Lions 16-10 and the Cleveland Rams 17-0.
Is it the teaching philosophy that retains Bears QBs from creating 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 only biggest indicator of success week in and week out within the NFL. If you’re giving the opponent too many possessions, some with advantageous subject place, it’s going to be an uphill climb to victory. I perceive your level, however ball safety is Job 1 for any quarterback.