Opinions are easy to come by in the NFL landscape.
Couch general managers and coaches are even easier to find.
So I thought I’d take my stab at it.
The Chicago Bears are facing one of the most important offseasons in team history.
They hold the No. 1 overall draft pick for a second consecutive year. They have a second top-10 pick.
After two losing seasons, they’ve shown some promise, but still have some bad late-game collapses on their record.
They have a third-year quarterback that has some incredible wow moments and a lot of bad moments.
There’s a strong core in the locker room and it appears to be loyal to the quarterback. There is a group of young defenders who played great football and were a part of the defensive turnaround during the season. Those players seem to like the head coach.
My point is, there is no shortage of arguments for or against many of the opportunities that face the Chicago Bears decision-makers.
They aren’t decisions to be made lightly. And if done right, could shape this franchise for seasons to come and hopefully be the catalyst to competing for championships.
If I were Kevin Warren
Kevin Warren started as team president in the spring. He is really the big wildcard in this entire process.
If he truly is in charge, he has the power to make sweeping changes. It starts with him because he is really where the buck stop. Sure, George McCaskey is the chairman, but the President of the Chicago Bears typically gets a long run with little push back. Hard to see Warren not being able to sell George on major moves.
Here is how I see the offseason and the moves I would make, if I were be in the presidency of the Chicago Bears.
Fire the coaching staff and retain Ryan Poles
That is, unless Poles wants to stand on the table for Matt Eberflus and go down with him, but I am not sure that’s the case.
Poles may be a bit of a mixed bag. There are some bad moves (Chase Claypool, Larry Ogunjobi), but there are plenty more good moves.
He’s cleaned up the cap situation. The team bottomed out but now has a very healthy cap situation, even with handing out some extensions to players.
One of those players is Montez Sweat, who perhaps more than any other player had a hand in turning the Bears' defense around.
Poles’ best move was the trade a year ago with the Carolina Panthers for the ninth pick in the draft, this year’s first-round pick, next year’s second-round pick and DJ Moore.
The move allows the Bears the flexibility to do what else needs to be done this offseason. Two first-round picks is a huge hedge to have when you aren’t sure about your quarterback.
As for Eberflus and staff. Thanks for your hard work the last two years, but it just hasn’t been good enough and even with the defensive turnaround and good locker room, there’s too much else to overlook.
Overall, I don’t feel like Eberflus has gotten the most out of this roster’s talent and even when it did turnaround, I question why it took so long.
Top it off with the dismissal of two assistants for “HR-related” reasons, even if that isn’t solely on him, it’s indicative of the processes and checks that Eberflus holds his staff to.
I don’t think Matt Eberflus is a coach that lead the Bears to a Super Bowl. If I feel that way, I think I have to let him go.
Hire the best coaching candidate I can
Look, that’s easy to say and even easier said than done. I get that.
I am not going to sit here and say I know the exact right candidate.
I lean toward wanting to go offensive head coach, but I am not against a defensive head coach. As long as that candidate has a strong plan for the offensive side of the ball with a system and coaches that are proven at the NFL level.
I also have some general criteria for my coach.
- Someone with enough experience to have been around multiple coaches and systems. The bigger the network, I think the stronger the candidate. Someone who has coached with multiple head coaches or been a part of a lot of different staffs is a plus for me.
- Coaches who have gotten the most out of not-so-great talent. If it’s an offensive coach who hasn’t worked with a lot of All-Pro or Pro-Bowl quarterbacks, I want to talk. Did you take a defense that was middling and make it top-10 without a shutdown corner or elite edge rusher? Pick up your phone.
- Not just another hot coordinator. Been there, done that.
- Someone who comes from a stable organization with a strong culture. Culture isn’t everything, but there is something to be said for what Eberflus has done well.
- Coaches who scheme to their players. Can you succeed without an All-Pro three-technique? You’ve only succeeded with a multi-Pro Bowl QB and wide receivers? Nah.
Names that fit these criteria include Mike Kafka, Ben Johnson, Alex Van Pelt, Dan Canales, Eddie Faulker, Dan Quinn, Teryl Austin and Eric Bienemy.
The Justin Fields question...
Ultimately, it’s up to the coach I hire. Truly. If they think they can build around Fields, then I let them and Poles work the best trade to get maximum value and the most picks to do just that.
If they want to move on and pick one of the prospects, I’m on board with that, too.
That’s an easy answer, but let me expand on it.
To me, it comes down to this. If after three years, you don’t have a definitive answer, then that is the answer.
Fields has many of the same issues that plagued him when he was coming out of Ohio State. There’s been improvement in some areas, but glaring issues with others. He is what he is.
Can a better coach and talent around him with a strong scheme get more out of him? Without a doubt. But will he ever get to the point of being a top 5, sure-fire Super Bowl-contending QB? I have my doubts.
That’s why if it were solely my choice, I would use the first pick on the best QB (probably Caleb Williams, but I’m not a scouting expert). I think that’s the best path back to relevancy.
Build around that prospect
Once the QB is selected, I’m prioritizing these positions: WR, C, Edge, DL/OL. Solidify the OL that has certainly gotten stronger, but still needs a starter a center and could use some solid depth that could be future starters.
The receiver corps definitely needs an influx of talent outside of Moore. Darnell Mooney likely won’t come back and Tyler Scott looked every bit a day three pick. They need help.
The defense got better but outside of Montez Sweat, the DL is still very much average veterans and borderline starters. Injecting talent into that group will help the defense take it to the next level and boost their strong defensive backfield.
That might not be the fix. Like I said at the start, I’m just an armchair GM. But this is how I think the offseason needs to be approached for the Chicago Bears to get back into competing for the postseason.
I didn’t include free agency because we don’t know yet who will be available because of franchise tags and extensions and free agency is so often fool’s gold.
Looking at the coaching list, I think there will be some strong hires made this offseason. I also am personally not a fan of Jim Harbaugh, mostly because of cost and because I think he’s ultimately a short-term coach. He is a personality that is hard on players and organizations and I think he can give you four to five seasons before he’s wearing out players and/or executives.
What do you think of my plan? Crazy? Good? What would you do if you were Kevin Warren?