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Eberflus Needs to Play the HITS or Hit the Bricks

The Chicago Bears showed little of the supposed philosophy in Week 1

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Before turning the page on Week 1, let’s take a look at the guiding philosophy of the Chicago Bears head coach, Matt Eberflus. HITS stands for Hustle, Intensity, Takeaways, and (playing) Smart. Yes, it’s a little rah rah and hokey (you’d be surprised at how much of that there is in football - Club Dub anyone?), but what do you get when your team can’t muster any appreciable effort in Week 1, at home, against your historical rival? Oh, and I’m purposely using the qualifier of “historical” rival because this is not a competitive rivalry anymore. No, not when the Bears record against the Packers during the George McCaskey era is 3-22, but we’ll save that for another time.

What is Coach ‘Flus doing with this team when Chase Claypool looks like he’s day dreaming of his next photoshoot instead of squaring up a basic block for Darnell Mooney? What is Coach ‘Flus doing with the Nate Davis situation, who has a mysterious allergy to the grass at Halas Hall during the week, but is allowed to serve as a turnstile enroute to giving up nine pressures according to PFF? What is Coach ‘Flus doing with this defense that can’t put pressure on the quarterback, sits in soft zone coverages like they’re protecting a three score lead, and fails to force any turnovers against an inexperienced quarterback? What is Coach ‘Flus doing to set the tone for an offense that played scared and a defense that played soft?

To be completely honest, we’re at the start of the second year of the Eberflus era and I don’t know that I could confidently pick him out of a lineup. He looks like a guy that central casting sent over for a scene that needed “opposing team coach” to stand on the sidelines, maybe flash some hand signals. No lines, just a headset and a play sheet. Nothing he has said or done in his tenure is particularly noteworthy, which might not be an issue if the team played hard, smart football - you know, like the HITS philosophy says it will. Yeah, wins would be great, but even just playing aggressive, attacking football would rally this fanbase behind it. But this team is milquetoast, just like it’s coach.

Looking around the league at the other head coaches and you know what most of them contribute to the success of their squads. If I said Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan, or Andy Reid, you’d know just how much they influence the offense. If I said Mike Tomlin or Mike Vrabel, you’d know how important their personality is to the mindset of those organizations. So what is Coach ‘Flus? If he’s a defensive guru, I don’t see it. If he’s a CEO leader of men personality type, well, what is the personality? Because if it’s HITS, it needs to be more than just words.

Coach ‘Flus needs to light a fire under Chase Claypool, Nate Davis, Luke Getsy, Alan Williams, and anyone else in his orbit that doesn’t embody his philosophy to every practice, meeting, and game. If he can’t lead his coaches and players to embody his stated approach with every fiber of their being, then he needs to find new people that will. He needs to assert the authority provided to him by the position, even if that means a surprise inactive decision for those that don’t buy in.

All of the excitement and goodwill from the off-season has evaporated in that opening week effort. The idea of a Week 2 “must win” is almost ridiculous if it weren’t for the Week 3 trip to Kansas City staring the Bears in the face, and no one will give the Bears a chance against Patrick Mahomes. If the Bears can’t beat Baker Mayfield and the Bucs, it’s almost certainly a winless September. Good luck handling the Soldier Field boo-birds if that happens.

Let’s see what you’ve got, Coach ‘Flus.