Is this the end of a brief and mostly frustrating era in Chicago Bears history? Will the front office of the historical franchise wipe the slate clean and start (semi) over when it comes to the head coach position and its choice of starting quarterback?
If you listen to some insiders, that’s exactly what might take place over at Monsters of the Midway headquarters.
According to Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, a league source feels that a semi-do-over is in order for the Bears and the timing is perfect– with the team set to have the no. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft– to ditch head coach Matt Eberflus and quarterback Justin Fields:
“The chatter within leagues circles is that it will be far more difficult for [Bears GM Ryan] Poles to justify keeping Eberflus next month than it will be to dismiss him. And the popular sentiment is that the timing couldn’t be more optimal for the team to justify a coaching change on circumstances alone.
‘Let’s be real,’ one league source said. ‘Given the Bears’ history, in my mind it’s highly important that they start 2024 with somebody who can successfully develop a quarterback. Anybody…and if you’re the GM there, how could you turn down the rare opportunity to go do both at once? You choose the best quarterback in the draft class and link him up with one of the best offensive head coaching prospects of the moment…’
The sentiment inside the league is that the Bears job– which, by the way, could be one of as many as 10 coaching vacancies in the league by wild-card weekend– would be far more attractive if it came with a clean slate at quarterback. Prospective candidates likely would feel far more eager to marry with a rookie than take on a time-sensitive developmental challenge with Fields, especially with no promise that a potential reset would provide anywhere near the same choices for the team that this draft cycle will.”
The Bears will, indeed, have the unique opportunity to front load a lot of young talent in this coming year’s draft. They are all but guaranteed the overall no. 1 pick via last season’s trade with the Carolina Panthers and two of the top five picks, as well as six draft selections within the first five rounds.
With “can’t miss” stud quarterbacks Caleb Williams and Drake Maye up for grabs, there’s a loud call to take one– but only if the team has finally decided to move on from Fields…and, maybe more importantly, if the team has also decided to move on from Eberflus.
Fields, a 24-year-old 3-year veteran, has shown brief flashes of brilliance in his run as Bears starting QB, but he’s also shown glaring inconsistencies and a frustrating tendency to make critical flubs late in games. His overall 7-26 record as a starter also can’t be overlooked.
There’s truly a lot to like in Fields, but the Bears have to assess whether he’s learning enough, developing enough to be THE man for the foreseeable future. They have to decide if it’s in the team’s best interest to start over with a new quarterback, pairing him and his development with a new head coach (Jim Harbaugh?), better equipped than Eberflus to guide the growth of a young field general.
Notwithstanding a spectacular final five-game run from Fields, the future of the quarterback position in Chicago may be tied to the future of the team’s head coach. If Eberflus gets the boot, Fields may be next.
The Bears, with a 4-8 current record and a 7-22 record overall under Eberflus, have, almost literally, nothing to lose from rolling the dice on a change.