It's a sports truism that nearly all head coaches end up fired. Even those who have won rings, raised banners, and entered the Hall of Fame have been told to clean out their office. In the NFL alone, Tom Landry, Bill Belichick, and Andy Reid have been told by ownership that their services were no longer needed. Even Chicago Bears icon Mike Ditka was given the pink slip.
Matt Eberflus, barring the most improbable turnaround in sports history, will not be entering the Hall of Fame, at least not without a $43.50 ticket.
His .143 winning percentage as Chicago Bears head coach is far below that of former Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli, who Bleacher Report once named as the worst NFL head coach of all time. Yes, the same Rod Marinelli that presided over an 0-16 season has won nearly 50% more of his games than Matt Eberflus.
Will the Chicago Bears finally fire a coach in the middle of a season?
The Chicago Bears have been around since 1920 when they were called the Decatur Staleys. In over 100 years, the franchise has never fired a head coach in-season, but as the embarrassing losses continue to pile up and pressure from a fanbase that has had enough increases, that may be about to change.
This past Sunday's loss against the Denver Broncos felt in real time like it might be the last straw. Chicago jumped out to a 28-7 lead against the winless Broncos, and then, as it so often has during Eberflus' tenure, everything fell apart. A Will Lutz field goal with under two minutes remaining, followed by a Justin Fields interception, put a bow on the Bears' 14th consecutive loss and 17th in 18 games.
Perhaps Eberflus was granted a stay of execution because it would be nigh impossible for an interim coach to take over on Monday and get the team ready for Thursday, but could it really get any worse? A loss to the Commanders, coupled with a ten-day rest until the Bears' next game, could be the final nail in Eberflus' coffin.
As the losses piled up late last season and the #1 pick in the NFL Draft became a legitimate possibility, Bears fans evolved beyond their months-long depression to reach the final stage of grief: acceptance.
When Ryan Poles traded that top pick to the Panthers for D.J. Moore and four additional draft picks (including Carolina's first-round selection in 2024), Chicago Bears fans celebrated. Things were finally looking up. After all, where else is there to go after you've hit rock bottom?
Like Bruce Willis' character in Armageddon, you can count on Matt Eberflus to drill deeper. By God, he will make 800 feet. Rarely in sports has a team been so optimistic heading into a season, only to see those hopes completely evaporate within a few weeks, and there is nowhere to place those continued failures but at the head coach's feet.
Eberflus is a defensive coach, and yet the Bears have had arguably the worst defense in the league during his tenure. His offensive coordinator, Luke Getsy, has failed to properly utilize Justin Fields and his immense talents. His "HITS" principle, which stands for Hustle, Intensity, Takeaways, and (playing) Smart, has rang laughably hollow.
The ineptitude the Chicago Bears have displayed on the field through this season's first four weeks has plunged Bears fans back into the same depressed state that has become all too familiar, and the team has been just as humiliating off the field.
Eberflus is now calling the defensive plays after the mysterious exit of Alan Williams, and he has failed to properly address the Chase Claypool situation after the receiver was made a healthy scratch against the Broncos. His uncertainty about Tyrique Stevenson's possible concussion from the Chiefs game really highlighted the fact that Eberflus is a captain that does not have control of his ship.
Much of the talk about the Bears just four weeks into the season has centered on the possibility of having the top two selections in next year's draft. Though that eventuality could be the seismic event that finally turns the Bears into winners, there is a not-so-quiet voice in all Bears' fans heads that says, "They'll find a way to screw that up, too."
That's because, outside of Lovie Smith, the Bears haven't had a good head coach since Mike Ditka. Eberflus is just the latest in a long line of uninspired leading men. Trigger warning, Bears fans. I'm about to list them all. Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron, Marc Trestman, John Fox, and Matt Nagy. Lovie Smith was fired after going 10-6, one of the biggest victims of his own success in football history. Bears fans would kill for that right now.
My daughter, who is six years old and much smarter than I am, asked me this week, "Why do you root for the Chicago Bears if they always lose? Will you ever pick a different team instead?" I told her that no, I would never drop the Bears. I've rooted for them my whole life and always will. "Sticking with the team through all the losing makes the winning even sweeter," I told her. That seemed to satisfy her, but it's been tumbling around in my head ever since.
What if the winning never comes? I wasn't even three when the Bears Super Bowl Shuffled their way into NFL history, and outside of a randomly successful season (all of which still ended tragically), I've never experienced the feeling of my team being at the top.
What's abundantly clear is that if Bears fans are ever going to experience something that will make all that losing worth it, it won't happen with Matt Eberflus at the helm. As always, I'll be rooting for the team to win on Thursday night, but if, as expected, they fall short yet again, it'll be time to make a change.
Eberflus has repeatedly asked Bears fans for patience through the team's struggles, but even the most patient fans in the world would agree that enough is enough. When asked about his job status Wednesday, Eberflus said that despite not talking to the front office about it, "I feel the support." Those sound like famous last words. This is Matt Eberflus' last stand, and I think we all know how it ends.