The Chicago Bears are 4-4 in their last 8 games. Justin Fields finally led the Bears on a game-winning drive. The defense is coming together. When you isolate certain aspects of the Bears 12 to 10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, you can spin it in a positive light.
But do you really think what we watched on Monday night was a positive?
Remember the 2020 Chicago Bears? That team went 8-8 and made the playoffs. Was that a good football team? No, it was not. But they won more games than they should have, made the playoffs, gave George McCaskey a reason to keep Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, and it led us to the current quarterback mess after the two were dismissed after 2021.
I look at this 2023 Bears team the same way. George McCaskey and Kevin Warren need to see the forest for the trees. The trees in the front are tall and beautiful (wins), but the forest (the coaching staff) looks like it just took on a wildfire, and the trees are left standing but smoldering behind them.
After Justin Fields’ second fumble, it felt like it was over. If you watched Justin Fields walk off the field, I honestly felt he did too. In fact, I tweeted this out:
That's going to lead to the end of Justin Fields career in Chicago.— Bill Zimmerman (@BillTZimmerman) November 28, 2023
But Fields battled. He showed plenty of moxie. He got another opportunity, and he made the most of it. He connected to a wide-open DJ Moore, and he led the Bears to a game-winning field goal.
In fact, if you look at the mentions in that tweet, you’ll see countless Bears fans wanting to hang an ‘L’ on me for that tweet. Enjoy it, fans, go ahead. But if you are taking victory laps off of that performance, I’m not sure what to say.
I love that Fields did that. I love that he won the game. I love it for Justin Fields. He needed that. He should feel good and I want him to be a successful NFL QB, so I’m happy for him. But in reality, what Fields did was lose another game to show definitively that he’s the man.
His overall performance, 0 TDs with two turnovers, cannot be considered a wild success. Luke Getsy’s gameplan certainly did him no favors, but based on Fields’ first-half performance in the previous Vikings game, and the gameplan for this one, Getsy clearly didn’t think Fields could handle reading and reacting to Brian Flores’ blitz scheme. The plan was clearly to get the ball out to the sidelines and away from the blitzes.
Could Fields have performed better if given the opportunity? Perhaps, but we will never know because Getsy continues to refuse to give Fields the opportunity to shine with the game on the line.
The calls last week in the fourth quarter against Detroit and the way the Vikings game was called show that Getsy doesn’t trust Fields. So, whatever happens at the end of this year, this relationship has become untenable.
But because of where the relationship sits, there’s no reason to think that Getsy will give Fields the opportunities to let it rip, unless they are playing a subpar defense. If the opponents’ defense is a solid group, Getsy will continue to push Fields into a quick, short game and not allow Justin to hunt for chunk yards down the field. Because of that, the evaluation for Fields won’t be finished. And an incomplete grade is a failing grade. Whether that is Fields’ fault or not.
The Carolina Panthers have nearly guaranteed the Bears a top-two pick. The opportunity will be there to move on from Justin Fields, and I expect Ryan Poles to do that. But now the question remains: what about Matt Eberflus?
If anyone reads my tweets, articles or listens to my podcast, you’ll know exactly where I stand with Matt Eberflus, and I certainly hope George McCaskey and Kevin Warren see it the same way. Matt Eberflus has proven that he’s a good defensive coordinator, perhaps even very good. But he is not a capable head coach for too many reasons to list in this paragraph.
But the Bears sit at 4-8. With 5 games remaining and 3 of those games against teams with losing records, Eberflus will have the opportunity to win more games. 7-10 is not out of the question. So Bears fans, you need to start asking yourself what you want down the stretch? Do you want Fields to play great and lead Chicago to three more victories? Because there is no guarantee that a 7-10 Bears team would fire Matt Eberflus. I think, despite all the signs, that perhaps that many trees would block George’s view of the forest, and that may be enough to keep Eberflus and again, not align the new quarterback with the coach properly.
I’m not saying you need to cheer for losses. Fan how you want to fan. But keep in mind, that while wins are nice, a strong organization is better. And I have a hard time believing that a Matt Eberflus-led team will ever be anything more than middle-of-the-road.
The rest of the roster is really starting to come into focus. The Bears have a strong group of cornerbacks, most on rookie deals. They’ll need a new safety when they almost certainly replace Eddie Jackson next season. They are set at linebacker. They need to add to the defensive line, but Montez Sweat, Andrew Billings, Gervon Dexter and DeMarcus Walker is a good place to start. The offensive line is a center away. DJ Moore and Cole Kmet are legitimate pieces in the passing game, and the running back room is solid.
Ryan Poles has a few more pieces to add, but this roster will be nearly complete for the 2024 season. But Poles will know it will still be a quarterback and a head coach away. And those two decisions, despite all the other positives, will define Ryan Poles tenure as Bears general manager. If he gets those two spots right this offseason, the Bears could finally be on the cusp of returning to NFL glory.
- I still don’t know if Gervon Dexter is the true disruptor the Bears need in the middle of the defense, but his growth the last month has been truly impressive.
- Justin Jones has averaged around 70% of the snaps in November, Gervon Dexter around 35%. This is why coaches coaching for their jobs do not align with developing a youthful roster.
- How many of you got that knot in your stomach and “Here we go again?” when Teven Jenkins went down?
- You can question the price paid, but you can’t question the impact that Montez Sweat has had since joining this football team.
- I loved the Cinderella story that was Josh Dobbs, but he has officially turned back into a pumpkin.
- Speaking of Dobbs, add him to the list of who’s who at the QB position that Matt Eberflus has defeated (Dobbs, Bryce Young, Sam Howell, Brian Hoyer, Trey Lance, Mac Jones, Davis Mills).
- The Bears have officially taken back the North! They have the best divisional record in the NFC North on Mondays this season!
- In stats that don’t make sense, according to PFF, Lucas Patrick is yet to surrender a sack on the season.
- Of Cornerbacks with 20 or more targets, Jaylon Johnson is 2nd in the NFL in passer rating against (37.7), just behind DaRon Bland (36.9).
- The Chicago Bears have 8 takeaways and 3 giveaways over their last two games. They’ve scored 13 points off those 8 turnovers, while their opponents have scored 14 points off those 3.