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A Scout’s Take on Matt Eberflus and a Possible Coaching Change

Greg Gabriel with some thoughts on the Bears making a coaching change, and some clarification on Peter King’s comments yesterday.

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After Sunday’s disheartening loss to the Denver Broncos, social media was abuzz with calls for Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus’ head. As I pointed out in a post on X on Monday, it’s easier to scream for a coaching change than it is to actually make one, and the reasons are several.

The most important one is if a General Manager is going to dismiss a Head Coach during the season, he has to have someone in mind to be the interim Head Coach. In the case of the Chicago Bears, that would more than likely be someone on the outside, as there is probably no one on the current staff capable of being an interim Head Coach.

One name brought up to me on X was the Bears Special Teams Coach Richard Hightower. Hightower has been in the League a long time, but almost all of his tenure has been coaching special teams. As a Head Coach, he would have to oversee all phases of the football team. Is Hightower capable of doing that? I don’t have the answer.

Another follower sent me a note saying bring back Lovie Smith and give him a multi-year contract. First, bringing back Lovie to finish out the season would be a possibility, but by NFL rules, he can’t be given a multi-year contract. When a coach is hired as an interim coach, it is just that, a coach hired to finish out the season. At the end of the season, the Bears would have to do a full coaching search that follows the protocol set by the National Football League. This is exactly what happened in Indianapolis last year.

Then there is the question of if Lovie would even want to do it. If he got a multi-year contract, I’m sure he’d consider it, but being an interim is a whole different story. Don’t forget, since Lovie left the Bears, he has not had much success. He was fired at Tampa Bay, Illinois and Houston, although the Houston job was a scam as I don’t feel they had any intention of keeping him more than a year.

Another person suggested bringing in former Bear great Olin Kruetz. Hiring Olin would be similar to the Colts hiring Jeff Saturday last year. Jeff was a highly respected former player and a strong leader. I know firsthand how strong a leader Olin is, having worked with him for much of his career in the NFL. Still, his only coaching experience is being the offensive line coach at Carmel Catholic High School this fall.

Granted, few understand offensive football as well as Olin, but jumping from a high school OLine coach to an NFL Head Coach is unheard of.

So, as you can see, it is not very easy to just replace a coach mid-season, especially when there are still 13 games to be played.

Last year, Detroit looked worse than awful to start the season. They lost five of their first six games yet were still able to turn it around. Lion Coach Dan Campbell received much of the same criticism that Flus is receiving, but the Lion organization stuck to their plan and kept Campbell. A year later, they are damn glad they did. I’m not saying that Flus can turn it around, but it has happened.

Other comments I received on X were crazy. One person suggested firing Flus and Getsy and then bringing in Lovie and former Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman to run the offense. I actually laughed out loud when I read that. Why? The last thing an NFL club is ever going to do is totally change an offensive scheme in mid-season.

It takes months to install an offensive scheme, not a couple of practices. In the NFL, the offense and changes in the offense are installed during the off-season and then worked on in training camp. In-season is all about preparing a game plan for the upcoming game, not installing a new scheme and even have it work at 10% capacity. It’s a ludicrous idea and shows exactly how out of tune some fans are to NFL football.

Let’s be fair, the offense on Sunday was much better than at any time in the last season and a half. Until the fourth quarter, the play-calling was excellent. I do believe that the Bears got a bit too conservative in the fourth quarter, and that was one of the reasons for the loss, but overall, the offense took a step in the right direction. The key is that it must continue. Justin Fields must have another strong outing tomorrow night and every game following that. That’s the only way he can survive as the Bears quarterback.

What hurt the Bears on Sunday was not the offense but rather the defense. They can’t stop anyone right now. Again, and I’m not making excuses, the Bears secondary is playing with four backups. The only starter out there is safety Jaquan Brisker. In fact, the nickel corner isn’t even the second-team nickel, as Greg Stroman is listed as the number-three nickel. My friends, that is a recipe for disaster. Any offensive coordinator has to be licking his chops waiting to play a secondary with that much weakness.

In the coming weeks, it’s not going to be easy. This team hasn’t won a game in almost a year. They need to do that badly. They also need to get injured players back, but the reality is that’s still a few weeks away.

There are several fans and even media who feel that Flus has “lost” the team. I have been around teams where that has happened, and it’s not pretty. The players just go through the motions in practice and put out minimal effort in games. That has not been the case here in Chicago. Yes, the team is not playing well, but there is no lack of effort on the player’s part.

Yesterday, FMIA columnist Peter King said on one of the local sports radio stations that he doubted Matt Eberflus would survive the season. That began a lot of speculation that Flus could be fired as early as this weekend if the Bears do not win tomorrow night.

I have known Peter for close to 40 years. When I was a young scout for the Giants, he was the Giants beat writer for Newsday, and we struck up a friendship. After Peter was on the radio and social media erupted, I sent a text to him asking… ”Are your thoughts on Flus something you know or something you think?” I got an immediate reply saying, “I don’t know anything; I just don’t see how he survives.” Peter, who is one of the most influential writers and insiders in the business, is just speculating. Right now, there are only probably three people who know what the Bears brass is thinking, and those three are George McCaskey, Kevin Warren and Ryan Poles. My experience says they aren’t saying a thing to anyone. My personal opinion is Flus will be given the rest of the season to turn it around, but we’ll see what really happens.