The 2023 Bears season came to an end after losing to the Cleveland Browns, 20-17, last Sunday. The Bears once again blew another double-digit lead entering the fourth quarter, the third time it happened under head coach Matt Eberflus. While they are not yet officially eliminated from the playoff race, let's be real. The odds of the Bears getting to the playoffs right now are as long as the Bears win on the last Hail Mary pass against the Browns, which they came very close to.
For the first time in a long time, the Bears were playing a meaningful game entering the contest against the Cleveland Browns. Eberflus built a mini-momentum of returning as the head coach in 2024, and winning against the shorthanded Browns on the road would have further solidified his status.
Instead, the conversation on Monday turned to the future of Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. It is a stark contrast compared to last Sunday, when many expected him to return next season. Once again, Eberflus' defense could not finish the job when it counted. Once again, Getsy can't figure out 4th and short situation like he has shown all season long.
Instead of 8-6, they are 5-9. Another losing season. His coaching record is 8-23 overall now. He will go down as the worst head coach in franchise history. Even if you do not count last year as the Bears went on a full tear down and had no talent on both sides, there are no excuses this year to see three games that they could have won turn into an agonizing loss.
To quote famous American poet Maya Angelou, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." Both men have shown plenty of times this year that neither possess football acumen, and leadership skills to elevate the Bears.
General Manager Ryan Poles finds himself in an arduous position. He's trying to figure out what to do with Justin Fields, a quarterback that he did not draft. And the way Getsy has called plays this season, who was hired by Eberflus, has made things more difficult for Poles from an evaluation perspective.
And to further complicate things, both current and former players have spoken out in support of Fields on Monday as the frustration over the latest loss has finally started to boil over.
With 2023 season pretty much over, Ryan Poles will have plenty of difficult decisions ahead of him.
The 2023 season started with an embarrassing 38-14 season-opening loss to the Green Bay Packers. And blowing a 28-7 lead and losing to the Denver Broncos at home after the Broncos gave up 70 points the previous week. And an agonizing defeat against the Detroit Lions on the road blowing a 12-point lead last month.
How they actually approached and spent the entire off-season workouts, from OTAs and mandatory mini-camps, that led into training camp in the summer and spilled over into the regular season that started 0-4, deserve plenty of scrutiny.
Perhaps that is why some of the players were using the term "lackadaisical" in yesterday's loss against the Browns. Not once have we ever heard anyone on this coaching staff, starting with Matt Eberflus, take any responsibilities and always lay the blame on his players. It seems like the frustration has finally caught up to the team.
Yesterday's loss also exposed the holes in the roster that Poles put together. He should be very proud of two free-agent linebackers, TJ Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds making big plays together against the Browns. He can hang his hat on rookie Tyrique Stevenson making a big interception and his latest trade acquisition Montez Sweat notching 2.5 sacks, giving him 5.5 sacks since he joined the Bears. And safety Jaquan Brisker had 17 tackles the week before against the Detroit Lions.
But the offensive talent that he has acquired so far still leaves a lot to be desired. Whatever he does this off-season, he must address the elephant in the room: What to do at quarterback position. Has he already decided to move on from Fields? If so, he absolutely must nail the quarterback pick: Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or whoever emerges in the off-season workouts. This could be his one and only shot at drafting a franchise quarterback.
Even if he wants to give Fields the chance to work with an experienced offensive coach, other than DJ Moore and Cole Kmet, they have absolutely no other playmakers on the roster. Moore was a godsend from Carolina, while Poles inherited Kmet from the previous front office. And draft picks like Velus Jones and Tyler Scott have been a disappointment so far. Can we really trust him to draft receivers in the upcoming draft that is considered one of the best receiver classes in years?
Also, the offensive line was pushed around badly by the Browns pass rush the entire game. Poles pay the price for underestimating the center position, as Lucas Patrick looked horrible. Guard Nate Davis, the prize free agent addition, did not fare well either, and Teven Jenkins suffered another injury, raising questions about his long-term health and reliability. And is he totally comfortable with Braxton Jones as the starting left tackle entering this off-season? Upgrading the depth will be imperative regardless.
It should not be difficult for Ryan Poles to move on from Matt Eberflus despite the fact both men share the same agent. He should be even more motivated to do so, knowing he is now reporting to the new team president, Kevin Warren. Warren has been in the news recently, wanting to get more involved in the football operations. And it should not be surprising, considering he's attended plenty of games in person to see the results himself.
And the Bears' job will attract plenty of interest around the league largely due to the young talent that Poles has assembled so far, and more young talent to be added if the Bears get the No.1 overall pick once again. Poles can trade the pick to the highest bidder for multiple first-round picks and a player like DJ Moore that they got from Carolina.
There shouldn't be any shortage of qualified candidates who want to take the job regardless of who is the quarterback next season. Bringing back Eberflus in 2024 will only put Poles' job security at a greater risk if Eberflus continues to lose double-digit leads again next season and not win enough games. But Poles must be ruthless even if he put himself on the clock with the newly hired head coach.
And while Poles should not worry about Warren injecting himself into every football decision like the hiring of a new head coach or the drafting a new quarterback, he will face plenty of questions and must address them with greater urgency this off-season. The kid glove treatments are over, and he will met with more skepticism and greater scrutiny than ever.
The off-season that will define both the Chicago Bears long-term and Ryan Poles as the general manager is just around the corner.