The clearest sign Matt Eberflus will be successful as Bears coach is his ability to adjust. It’s refreshing after Matt Nagy’s stubbornness.
Eberflus has shown plenty of flexibility with in-game tweaks throughout the season, but did his most impressive work during a 10-day break in October. He reworked his lineup, retooled the offense and redirected the trajectory of Justin Fields.
Now he needs to do it again.
As the Bears begin their bye week, it’s time to re-evaluate everything with an eye on what can be accomplished in the final four games. They are meaningless in the standings as the Bears sit 3-10, but they are purposeful in the big picture.
Any conversation about the future centers on Fields, and the bye lets him heal from his separated shoulder and re-evaluate his decision-making as a passer. It also enables Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Gaetsi to analyze how to best use him.
A major issue facing the Bears is how to maximize their running ability without overusing the field.
The Bears used tight end Cole Kemet on quarterback sneaks against the Dolphins, and ran two wildcat plays by running backs David Montgomery and Darinton Evans in their loss to the Packers.
Eberflus said, “We’re trying to take some hits from Justin in the future.” “Justin is going to take plays when he can of course, but we want to use him [important] conditions.
The bears won’t restrict Fields’ running, nor should they. It is important to his game. But they can be judicious about how often and when they expose him to drill.
Eberflus and Getsy should also take a close look at their wide receivers, especially newcomer Chase Claypool.
Claypool arrived in a trade in early November and has now played in five games. He averaged 2.4 catches for 22.2 yards (4.4 on target) while playing 46% of the snaps.
How is anyone okay with this?
Everyone expected a little more, a little sooner when the Bears gave up their second round pick – currently No. 34 overall – for them.
The Bears have shown zero urgency with Claypool, like it’s a project for next season. But he will seek a contract extension this coming season, and Fields needs receiver help right now.
Coming off the bye week, Claypool needs to fully integrate and get close to 10 goals per game. It’s important for this time and for the future, as Fields needs to build chemistry with him and make sure they have what it takes before the Bears commit to a big contract.
Beyond Claypool, the Bears should allocate snaps to the wide receivers most likely to help them in 2023.
Rookie Wallace Jones is at the top of that list, regardless of the Bears’ hesitation to rely on him on offense. He will learn best by getting involved in sports.
Speaking of wide receivers, did everyone see N’Keil Harry’s 49-yard catch in the fourth quarter? Wow. He is Exhibit A as to why he should play more. There’s a lot to like about the former first-round pick and his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, but the Bears didn’t give him a chance.
Center the passing game around Claypool, Harry and Jones and see what they can do.
On the offensive line, if the Bears are comfortable enough to play Alex Leatherwood in a rotation, they should be comfortable enough to keep him out for entire games.
He’s probably not as good as 11-year veteran Riley Reef now, but he could be eventually. Leatherwood was a first-round pick out of Alabama last year and is under contract through 2024. It makes sense to play over the reef.
Eberflus was noncommittal about such a move on Monday, but was pleased with how Leatherwood played and seemed amenable to making future-focused roster decisions.
It’s another example of his willingness to adapt, and the steps he takes after saying goodbye will tell.
#Matt #Eberflus #Master #Adjustment #Fix #Bears #Approach #Final #Games