I was all set to go all-in, or I should say, all-out on Matt Eberflus for this week’s column. I mean, that performance on Sunday night football was a pitiful display in front of the entire country. Eberflus deserved to be destroyed for that effort, but by Tuesday morning, when I sat down to write the column, Jaylon Johnson was seeking a trade and the Bears had traded for Montez Sweat.
Well, then, It took me an extra 24 hours just to take this all in.
Let’s start with Jaylon. This mess is all of Ryan Poles’ doing. He didn’t want to extend Jaylon over the summer. Prove it to us another year, he said. Jaylon said fine and went out there and has played, literally, as good as any cornerback in the league. Extend me, Jaylon said. Poles said, why don’t you see if you can find a trade partner?
That’s not exactly how you build a strong culture in a locker room.
I blamed Roquan Smith for not having an agent when talks broke down between the Bears and Smith (can’t exactly say the Bears won’t pay linebackers when they did that back in March). But when Smith’s extension with the Ravens went smoothly, you just have to wonder how bumpy things go behind the scenes when you sit down with Poles and Cliff Stein and talk dollar amounts.
Now Jaylon is pissed and won’t negotiate until after the season. He’s headed for free agency or a franchise tag... unless they use that on Montez Sweat.
The Sweat move left me puzzled. I mean, this season is lost, so trading away a second round pick (again) in the middle of the season seemed a bit odd. But of course, this is a long-term decision. I’m sure they’ll have an extension done shortly after his arrival in Chicago. But then suddenly, both Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN say the Bears hope to extend Sweat but nothing is on schedule to get done.
You traded away what is certainly a top 40 pick for an exclusive negotiating window? You also went out and traded for a very good edge, but one who is going to be 28 to start the 2024 season, when the Bears almost certainly will have a rookie QB starting under center. Whether that be Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or someone else, you better develop into a quality quarterback quickly because there will be a very small window to have all these decisions work in concert.
Not to mention, Sweat wanted to go to Atlanta, but now he’s in Chicago. Add that into the mix while the Bears see if they can extend him. You only get one franchise tag per offseason and now both Johnson and Sweat could both be candidates. If the Bears can’t extend one of them, one of them (Johnson) will walk away and the Bears will receive no compensation.
On top of that, the Bears Human Resources Department has fired another assistant coach for inappropriate behavior at Halas Hall.
What is going on?
I hope Kevin Warren is paying attention because this cannot continue. Change is needed.
I assume Warren has largely finished his assessment of Ryan Poles and plans to keep him as his general manager. It’s hard to believe that Warren and George McCaskey would green-light a trade of this magnitude for a GM who may not be here in January. Poles is almost certainly safe.
But Matt Eberflus? Enough is enough.
Two of his assistant coaches have behaved so poorly that the team was forced to fire them. How often have you seen assistant coaches get fired for something other than performance? And two of them in the same season? Eberflus brought these guys in, he should be held accountable for their actions.
Beyond that, his performance is awful. He takes no accountability for his actions. He forces blame on the players and I’m not sure how you can watch one of his press conferences and say, this is a leader of men.
Eberflus is a coach who preaches fundamentals (at least he claims he does), but when his players struggle in fundamental areas? Eberflus puts the blame on them. Sorry Matt, this is your show. If they fail, it’s on you, not them.
If the Bears lose to the Saints and manage to turn around and lose to Carolina, they have an extended week, at 2-8, fire Eberflus. Don’t let this debacle continue.
So the Bears sit at 2-6, 5-20 under this regime, their best defensive player doesn’t want to be here, they traded for a great defensive player that doesn’t want to be here, and now they have to figure out how to keep them both before March of 2024.
Is this the all-time low point of the Chicago Bears franchise? Is this it? 104 years and we’ve finally hit it?
There are four contenders, the early 70s, the late 90s, 2014 and now, the Eberflus debacle.
If you want to argue why one of these other stretches was worse, I can counter two arguments why it wasn’t.
It’s time you step in, Kevin Warren. This is not acceptable.
- Have no pass rush
- Inevitable losses
- Toxic Workplace
- Shift blame