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Why the Montez Sweat trade won’t save Matt Eberflus’ future with Chicago Bears

Trading for Montez Sweat should make the Chicago Bears better, but he won’t be alone to save a head coach who’s proven he’s in over his head.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Washington Commanders Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Almost as soon as the Chicago Bears had filed the paperwork to officially trade for Washington Commanders edge defender Montez Sweat, a troubling question thought dampened the (mostly) good vibes from the move.

It’s the one thing to suggest the Sweat trade, which sent what could be a high second-round pick to the Commanders in exchange, could have positive implications for general manager Ryan Poles’ job safety. (Extending him to that new four-year, $98 million contract finally puts that move into the “good” category.)

After all, if you’re Kevin Warren, you’re probably not signing off on a significant deadline deal such as this unless you have some faith in your general manager, right?


But for those who believe the trade could signify head coach Matt Eberflus being safe for next season, I’ve got news for you: that ship has probably all but sailed.

It’s not just about Eberflus’ horrific 5-20 record as the Bears’ head coach, which is the worst winning percentage in franchise history. Or the fact that two of his coaches have left the team or been fired as part of personal conduct issues reported to HR. OR the fact that his offensive coaching staff has squandered a talented (even if flawed) quarterback for the last two seasons.

That’s all bad, but the context is even worse. The ugliest part of all this is that he’s terrible at the things he’s supposed to be good at.

Even with an upgrade at defensive end like Sweat, let’s be honest: Eberflus, a defensive-minded head coach, has fielded a defense that can’t compete against real offense. And that simply cannot be.

A year after allowing the most points in the NFL, the Bears defense currently ranks 28th in points allowed in 2023, giving up 27.3 points a game. Even if you make the argument that last year’s squad was intentionally bad, there’s no reason this year’s defense should be THIS awful. Not when you signed two new linebackers and spent three of your first four draft picks — two of them defensive linemen — on that side of the ball.

Instead, Chicago has the second-worst pressure percentage in the league (16.6%), ahead of only the Denver Broncos, and it took them until about five weeks into the season to realize they could rush more than four men at a time. Not that it’s helped that much when they’re not playing the Brian Hoyers and Sam Howells of the world: only the Arizona Cardinals have generated less quick pressure (in under 2.5 seconds) than the Bears.

Especially now that Eberflus is calling the plays, his failings on that side of the ball are impossible to write off.

And then, of course, there’s the character portion of this.

How are you going to be the high-character/hustle/”family values”-style coach who has multiple coaches not upholding the “standard” of his organization? Or trotting an actively cancerous presence (Chase Claypool) onto the field for several weeks and refusing to discipline said player for his failures in a manner consistent with what you laid out when you got here? Or creating an environment where the coaches lay the blame at the players’ feet at every turn despite the fact that their obvious lack of preparation and execution absolutely reflects on the staff?

So Matt, what is it...that you’d say you do here?

TL;DR: Eberflus is a bad coach of a bad football team with basically no chance of making the postseason who also couldn’t lead a middle-school class project.

You think one player is going to change all of that? (The only player who could’ve owned that distinction at one point was Justin Fields, and Eberflus and company ensured that wasn’t going to happen.)

Ryan Poles can say all the right things to the press or do his part to douse the fires in season (as he should). But he has eyes. If he survives the season himself, he’ll get a new coach (and probably quarterback, too) to reshape the team in his image.

And if Poles doesn't make it, Eberflus will be leaving with him anyway.

So don’t worry, Bears fans: Matt Eberflus won’t be the head coach of the Chicago Bears much longer. That would require him and his staff to be good at their jobs, and we all know that’s not going to happen.