As we all learned in school at some point, there are certain scientifically observed laws that govern our existence in the universe.
“Matter cannot be created nor destroyed.”
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
“The Chicago Bears are not allowed to make sense or be a competent organization.”
No, seriously, it’s written. Go look it up.
Don’t believe me? The evidence is all right there.
Take head coach Matt Eberflus’ latest trip down dysfunctional lane when addressing quarterback Justin Fields’ injury situation on Wednesday ahead of the Bears’ Thursday Night tilt with the Carolina Panthers (aka the Caleb-Maye Bowl).
After Fields was officially listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game, Eberflus addressed the media and said, point blank, that Fields would not play, naming Tyson Bagent the starter for a fourth consecutive game.
Like it or not, it makes sense.
The Bears are heading into a short week with little practice time, not leaving much opportunity for Fields to ramp up for the game. Though the Panthers are a bad team and could’ve been a soft landing spot for Fields, that’s arguably an even better reason for trusting the backup and giving Fields time to heal up before playing the Detroit Lions instead of rushing the starter back and risking immediate re-injury.
So that’s settled, right?
Wrong. That would’ve been too sensible.
For some reason known only to himself, Eberflus went on to say the Bears would give Fields “one more day” before affirming his status as “out,” but then adding the Bears would potentially let him do a pregame workout on Thursday before officially ruling him out.
”Right now, he’s listed as doubtful,” Eberflus told reporters. “We’ll see where it goes. The chances are doubtful. (It’s) 51% that he’s in or out. We’ll see where it is. We’ve got a little time left. But again, we’ll declare him out when he’s out. Right now, we’re still listing him as doubtful.”
So, Fields went from “doubtful” to “out” to “doubtful/out” to “doubtful/game-time decision” in the course of about five minutes, despite his lack of medical clearance to play, when all he had to do was say “He’s out; Next question.”
The fact that Eberflus smoked this particular layup feels like it betrays just how far the coach is in over his head — and how quietly desperate he is for Fields’ return as a chance to save his job.
Let’s call it what it is: Matt Eberflus is not an NFL head coach, and he shouldn’t be one any longer than he needs to be. (If, for some god-forsaken reason, the Bears lose to the Panthers tomorrow, his tenure should end right then and there.)
He’s overseen an operation that has run a potential franchise quarterback into the ground. He’s a defensive-minded head coach whose defense is awful despite a tremendous amount of money invested into it. Even if you take out last year as a “tank” year, his 2-7 record as head coach is hilariously inept. His coaching staff is suspect on and off the field. And if all that mess wasn’t enough, we all lose brain cells every time he speaks.
It doesn’t matter that Fields is almost certainly not playing tomorrow anyway, given that he was limited in practice today. The problem is that Eberflus simply can’t present simple information in a reasonable fashion. If he can’t get something as straightforward as “he’s not medically cleared, so he won’t play” or “he’s still progressing, but we need to see more,” right, doesn’t that make you wonder whether or not he and his staff are capable of making sense at other aspects of their jobs?
And what’s he doing this for?
Gamesmanship? Making the Panthers keep the possibility of Fields alive in their game-planning sessions?
Or perhaps an underlying desire not to watch Bagent turn the ball over again after giving the Saints game away (literally) with four turnovers last Sunday?
Maybe that’s a bit harsh, given how solid Bagent was for three quarters of his last start against New Orleans. But “good for three quarters” isn’t going to save Eberflus’ job, nor is Bagent’s punchless and turnover-prone play. An improbable Fields renaissance might, though.
Either way, the fact that Eberflus can’t make simple decisions, well, simple, is perhaps as good an illustration of why he’ll soon be job-hunting as any.
If you think about it, it’s no wonder nothing about the Bears’ on-field play makes sense when their coach consistently can’t.
You can watch Matt Eberflus’ press conference here.