The 2021 Bears demonstrated no shortage of head-scratching decisions, many of which were offensive to my football sensibilities. But nothing was as bothersome as the combo platter of Ryan Pace borrowing from the future to prop up a fading façade and Matt Nagy playing veterans on expiring deals ahead of young players who could’ve benefited from meaningful regular-season reps.
Allowing that was a major misstep for the organization, and figures to have ramifications that their replacements will be forced to deal with now (and in the future).
But if it is any consolation, the new Matt and Ryan have a mindset that represents a clear departure from the old Matt and Ryan.
This Matt Eberflus quote (via the Chicago Bears’ official website) provides so much necessary depth and perspective about where this franchise stands now and where it wants to go moving forward:
“I think you have to have that,” Eberflus said. “When I was younger, maybe I looked through a straw, but I think that now you have to look that way. You’ve always got to have a microscope and a telescope. You have to be able to look and see down the road, but you also have to come back to your business.”
The imagery of using microscopes and telescopes is poetic by any standards. Moreover, it truly is refreshing to hear this from a coach, let alone someone who comes off as a coach-y coach in his limited press briefings to this point. There is going to be a desire to veer from the plan in order to satisfy short-term desires. Maybe this perspective is what comes from a coach who knows he isn’t angling to do everything he can to keep his job. Nonetheless, it is still refreshing. Especially when Eberflus’ words are backed by those of new GM Ryan Poles.
The GM’s perspective on the Khalil Mack trade should open some eyes. Via the Bears:
“There are a lot of things with analytics, age, play time,” Poles said. “We put all of that together, and there’s a timing mechanism as well. If you wait, what does that look like? If you do it now, what does that look like? We just thought right now it would allow the Bears to have more ammunition to add more players.
It was just looking at our future. It was looking at where we needed to go … it just seemed like the right time to do it in terms of value where we can help this team out now and in the future.”
Trading away good players stinks. There is no way around that one. But that Poles was willing to weigh a number of factors before cutting the deal, then share them publicly instead of pulling up with a heavy-handed “this is what’s best approach because I said so” is a departure from what we have grown accustomed to in recent years.
It might not seem like much, it is a relief knowing knowing there are new people in power. The Bears are working with something they haven’t had in a while — a GM and coach on the same timeline. And that they are they are pulling from the same side of the rope this early is encouraging. It didn’t feel like this last year. Particularly when they were dancing around trying to do right by Andy Dalton and Justin Fields at the same time. Two-front wars are hard to win on their own. Doing so at the quarterback position while jobs hang in the balance made it tougher. And it proved to be too much for Pace and Nagy. It’s one reason they are gone now.
We won’t know if Poles and Eberflus will practice what they preach until the ball really gets rolling this summer. But at least these guys sound different when discussing it. Isn’t that a relief?