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Did Bears make the right call keeping head coach Matt Eberflus?

The late surge was enough for Eberflus to keep his job. Was it the right call? What does this mean for QB Justin Fields? We take a look.

Atlanta Falcons v Chicago Bears
Head coach Matt Eberflus of the Chicago Bears reacts in the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on December 31, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Chicago Bears might be making some big moves this offseason, but changing the head coach doesn’t appear to be one of them. Matt Eberflus, who just wrapped up his second season in the Windy City, is expected to return for the 2024 campaign. The Bears have moved on from offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, a sign they might use the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft on a quarterback and trade Justin Fields.

However, that logical train of thought should’ve meant problems for Eberflus. After all, he’s been Fields’ head coach over the last two seasons and showed a lot of trust in the quarterback. It’s hard to pivot from that ideologically but maybe the Bears decide Fields is not the quarterback of the future and make a move anyway.

In Eberflus’ first season, things started out well with a 19-10 win over the 49ers on a ridiculously rainy day in Chicago. Despite the Bears finishing with a 3-14 record highlighted by a 10-game losing streak, Fields’ play and the amount of close games the team was in provided reason for optimism. Chicago was in eight games decided by one possession and went 1-7 in those games. There was bound to be some positive regression.

The Bears started the 2023 campaign with a 0-4 record, losing to three teams that would eventually make the playoffs and a Broncos unit that would end up being alright by the end of the year. Chicago was 2-7 after a loss to the Saints but did go 5-3 to end the season. Losing to the Packers at Lambeau was a tough pill to swallow given how well Chicago had been playing but ultimately the front office felt Eberflus had done enough.

Many have cited an improved defense as the reason for Eberflus being retained. Here’s a look at how the Bears did over the first two years of his tenure in key defensive marks.

2022: 29th in total yards, 17th in passing yards, 31st in rush yards, 32nd in scoring
2023: 12th in total yards, 25th in passing yards, 1st in rush yards, 20th in scoring

The numbers don’t lie, and the eye test does show a much improved unit on that side of the ball. However, does that justify keeping a coach who is 10-24 over his career? Is it prudent with the organization potentially looking at a quarterback change? Chicago’s five wins down the stretch were against the Panthers, Vikings (without Kirk Cousins), Lions, Cardinals and Falcons. Only Detroit is a playoff team. There were some tough breaks that could’ve easily changed that 5-3 mark to 7-2, but those breaks could’ve also gone the other way in some games to make the record worse. In my opinion, Eberflus did not do enough in his two seasons to warrant being retained and should’ve been let go regardless of what the Bears do at quarterback. However, his defensive improvement does leave the organization with an easy reason to keep him around.

What does Eberflus staying mean for Justin Fields?

The Bears do hold the No. 1 pick in the draft again, and they can definitely trade it for a massive haul to surround Fields with a legitimate offense. Changing the coordinator does suggest a change at quarterback, but Eberflus staying points to Fields staying. My guess is the Bears will remain open to all possibilities and the combine will be telling.

There’s a trade market for Fields, and Eberflus has likely been told there could be a change at quarterback during the conversations earlier this week. But for now, the head coach being retained can only mean positive things for the quarterback potentially staying in Chicago.