The outset of the Matt Eberflus era hasn’t been pretty. But as we saw with last year’s Lions team, how you finish one season can be a springboard to a better future.
Detroit, which began 1-6 last year, has gone 15-4 in 19 games since. The 2023 Lions (who are 7-2 coming into this week’s game against the Bears) are a blueprint for what can happen when a rebuild hits all the right notes. On the other side of the ledger, the Bears are a blueprint for what can happen when rebuilds miss their mark. And for Eberflus, a poor showing down the stretch this season could make him a candidate for an early dismissal from his head-coaching career in Chicago.
With that in mind, SI.com’s Albert Breer shares an update regarding what he is hearing about the Bears head coaching position in an exchange with a reader who asks about the chances Chicago chooses to dismiss its head coach. Here is what The MMQB columnist over at Sports Illustrated had to say (bold emphasis mine):
“I’d say the chances that Bears president Kevin Warren wants to remake the football operation, and maybe be more intimately involved in it after the season, are strong. So I think it’d probably take a late-season surge from the team to get Matt Eberflus a third season in Chicago.”
Yesterday, we discussed how the final seven games of the 2023 NFL season will be telling for Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Because even with Fields’ return coming this week, it still sounds like the team has eyes on drafting a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. But let’s put that aside for a moment, refocus, and remember that we should not forget how important it is for the coaches. Particularly the second-year head coach. The two should be tied at the hip. And while we’ll dig in on Fields some more in due time, let’s discuss what lies ahead for Eberflus.
Matt Eberflus is coaching for his future
Eberflus enters the unofficial second half of this season with a 6-21 record, winless against the NFC North, and leading a team coming into its Week 11 game against the Detroit Lions with a 3-7 record. The Bears went winless after a 3-7 start last year, losing five of the seven games by more than a touchdown. Four of those five losses were by 10+ points. It was already difficult to make a pitch on Eberflus’ behalf regarding retention for Year 3 in Chicago. If history repeats itself, then that task becomes even tougher.
Hence, Breer feels that Eberflus has to have a strong showing down the stretch to keep his job. Eberflus spent some time on the hot seat earlier. If you’ll recall, long-time NFL insider Peter King said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears fired Eberflus on the Friday after their Thursday Night Football game against the Washington Commanders had it resulted in a loss. They didn’t. In fact, they’ve gone 3-3 in the six games since their 0-4 start. Still, it was notable that a league insider (one who has had some deeper connections to Ryan Poles compared to other national reporters) went this far. So save that nugget for a rainy day.
In the end, it sounds like temperatures could ratchet up if things go sideways for this team down the stretch. After all, if Chicago’s quarterback is playing for his future, then I feel as if his head coach is doing the same.