With Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles hitting the highway in a quest to fill out the Chicago Bears teaching employees with new hires who can assist information the franchise to the subsequent degree — relevancy within the postseason — the Houston Texans shine as the newest instance of how shortly a group’s fortunes can flip.
The Bears and Texans have been the worst within the NFL in 2022 — each completed 3-14 — and as Eberflus seeks to reboot nearly all of his offensive employees and discover a defensive coordinator, Houston is getting ready for a playoff recreation.
The Bears have reportedly interviewed Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, Seahawks quarterbacks coach Greg Olson and San Francisco 49ers passing recreation coordinator Klint Kubiak for his or her offensive coordinator opening. Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen can be reportedly on the radar. Surely, there are extra names on Eberflus’ checklist.
Houston, the AFC South winner, blew out the Cleveland Browns 45-14 of their wild-card assembly Saturday as rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud shredded the league’s No. 1 protection, finishing 16 of 21 passes for 274 yards, three touchdowns and a passer score of 157.2. Stroud is anticipated to be the runaway winner of offensive rookie of the 12 months honors and Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik, 36, has change into a scorching identify for groups looking for a head coach. Slowik’s father, Bob, was the Bears defensive coordinator below Dave Wannstedt from 1993-98.
The youthful Slowik’s rise has been meteoric. He broke into the NFL as a defensive assistant in Washington in 2011 below Mike Shanahan and labored there for 3 seasons. From 2014-16, he was an analyst for Pro Football Focus. In 2017, Kyle Shanahan employed Slowik as a defensive assistant in San Francisco. After two years in that position, he was an offensive assistant for 2 seasons. He turned the offensive move recreation specialist in 2021 and the offensive passing recreation coordinator in 2022 earlier than first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans took him from the 49ers to the Texans as coordinator.
That’s how briskly issues can transfer for groups that get the quarterback place found out. A coordinator who’s a 12 months older than Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins can change into a head teaching candidate and a franchise that was stumbling — the Texans had 5 seasons with 4 wins or much less within the earlier 10 years — seems set as a contender into the long run with Stroud, who was the fifth quarterback in league historical past to move for 4,000 yards as a rookie.
Stroud and a brand new teaching employees are usually not the one parts that expedited the Texans’ ascent. Houston traded up for an additional first-round choice to get edge rusher Will Anderson at No. 3, one choose after Stroud. While the Bears have been aggressive in free company, signing linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards, proper guard Nate Davis and later edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue, Houston was a smaller participant on the open market.
The Texans added extensive receiver Robert Woods ($15.25 million, two years), defensive deal with Sheldon Rankins ($9.75 million, one 12 months) and tight finish Dalton Schultz ($6.25 million, one 12 months). That was it for pricey additions.
Poles doesn’t imagine an error was made in passing on Stroud in final 12 months’s NFL draft and sticking with Justin Fields, who has now made 38 begins via three seasons, citing the windfall the Bears obtained from Carolina by buying and selling the No. 1 total choose that changed into quarterback Bryce Young for the Panthers.
“I don’t think so at all,” Poles stated final week. “I think you have to take in what’s best for your team. So when you look at that situation and how it ended up playing out, to have DJ (Moore), to have (right tackle) Darnell (Wright), to have (cornerback Tyrique) Stevenson, to have the first overall (pick this year) and to have the second (-round pick from Carolina) next year, I feel like that’s the best for our organization.”
There’s no debating the Bears are in a greater place with their roster than they have been a 12 months in the past and it’s a greater supporting forged for a younger quarterback than what the Texans had for Stroud this 12 months. Moore is a bona fide No. 1 receiver for a group that has struggled to search out one. Wright and Stevenson profile as foundational items transferring ahead and there’s extra draft capital to come back.
Stroud’s high extensive receiver, Nico Collins, produced solely 70 receptions for 927 yards in his first two seasons. Now, Collins is a star. Woods is a possession receiver on the finish of his eleventh season, a veteran with out numerous juice remaining. Rookie extensive receiver Tank Dell, a third-round choose, made some massive performs however he’s 5-foot-8, 165 kilos, and has been on injured reserve since Week 12.
It’s not like Stroud walked right into a state of affairs that appeared loaded and even marginally designed for achievement. In May, sportsbooks had the Texans’ over/below for wins at 5 1/2, the bottom within the AFC South. Stroud, in Slowik’s system, is what made the elements round him higher and now there’s no haul of draft picks and a stud participant (like Moore) that would pry him away from Houston. Stroud has been so profitable in Year 1, he’s going to lift the bar of expectations for future rookie quarterbacks.
What’s thrilling for Poles, Eberflus and whoever winds up being employed as offensive coordinator is the choices the Bears have with the primary and ninth picks within the draft and a touted class of quarterbacks accessible.
The Bears can take a quarterback with the primary choose or they’ll commerce again from No. 1, get a haul of picks/gamers, after which take a quarterback. They should draft a quarterback.
After the 2008 season, when the Bears received 4 of 5 video games earlier than a win-and-reach-the-playoffs finale at Houston that changed into a 31-24 loss, then-GM Jerry Angelo stated, “It’s all concerning the quarterback. You don’t win due to extensive receivers. You don’t win due to working backs. You win due to the quarterback.
“We have gone through so many different scenarios at that position we can write a book, more so on what not to do than what to do.”
If the Bears get the best one, the roster is in place for them to take off.
“It’s built on a solid foundation,” Poles stated. “It’s not a house of cards. It’s going to continue to go up as we continue to have continuity with our roster. That makes the future really bright for us.”
Fifteen years later, Angelo’s phrases stay a superb guideline for Poles and Co. Imagine what an exquisite drawback it could be for the Bears to have a fast-tracked offensive coordinator presently subsequent January — and their very own franchise quarterback.