Matt Eberflus must answer this question if the Chicago Bears are going to succeed

After trading Justin Fields and Caleb Williams expected to be drafted in April, the onus is now on head coach Matt Eberflus. He must change his coaching style to elevate the Bears if he wants to be a head coach beyond the 2024 season.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears finally answered one of the biggest storylines in the off-season over the weekend.

Quarterback Justin Fields was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Saturday for a 2025 6th-round pick. The trade finally ended weeks of reckless speculation over his future with the Chicago Bears.
In the end, it was not enough to convince to bring Fields back as the starter because the flaws in his games were too much to convince general manager Ryan Poles.

Some local and national media jumped in and stoked more battles between Fields fans and Williams fans that became very ugly throughout the off-season.

Still, many will remember how we were excited the night Fields was selected in the draft. Fields brought so much excitement and provided plenty of highlight reels to a fanbase who believed he would finally end the curse of the Bears' bad luck at quarterbacks that has plagued this franchise and stop being a butt of a joke around the league.

In debating why Fields did not work out with the Bears, he was victimized by a man who did not draft him in the first place, his predecessors Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy who desperately tried to save their jobs by drafting him, and an organization that should have fired both Pace and Nagy after the 2020 season in the first place.

So while Poles has assembled a team that is starting to see the fruit of its labor, shipped off Fields, and is ready to draft his quarterback in Caleb Williams, one big question mark still exists:

Did Matt Eberflus learn from the mistakes last year? The jury is still out on Eberflus.

The popular notion is that the Bears were able to secure Shane Waldron despite Eberflus' lame duck status with the idea that not only Caleb Williams is their new quarterback but Waldron will be the new head coach whenever Eberflus is fired. That talk will not stop unless Eberflus learns from last year's mistakes.

Many will remember Eberflus blowing three double-digit leads against Denver, Detroit, and Cleveland last season with conservative defensive play calling with the lead and weird substitutions drew heavy criticism. Instead of finishing 7-10, it should have been 10-7. Eberflus would have solidified his status and Fields would likely be the starter in 2024.

And how can anyone forget the suspicious circumstances involving former defensive coordinator Alan Williams, who abruptly left the organization, and running backs coach David Walker who was fired over workplace behavior? And when you add the hiring of Getsy, it makes Eberflus look bad even further. There is a reason why Poles led the search for a new OC that led to the hiring of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron this time.

My biggest peeve of Eberflus from last year was his penchant for blaming execution after a loss during the postgame press conference. Isn't that the job of him and his assistants to nail down those details to players during OTAs and mandatory minicamps?

There were criticisms about how Eberflus ran training camp and handled snap counts during pre-season games that led to a 0-4 start. It sounds like he's blaming his players while lacking accountability from him and his coaching staff. If the team gets off to another 0-4 start in 2024 and he's repeating the same lines postgame, then the players will turn on him quickly.

He also sounded awkward and uncomfortable during weekly press conferences and guest appearances on ESPN 1000 throughout the season by being vague and not offering much clarity to questions being asked, which added more frustration.

Still, the players played hard for Eberflus despite turmoils on and off the field and backed him publically. With Fields officially traded now, the Bears will miss his leadership skills. And while the players know it is business, some are deeply hurt by his trade. And you can bet there are many more, who are privately frustrated by the trade. While Poles is the one who engineered the trade, you can bet Eberflus offered his two cents on how Fields played last season, which influenced the decision.

Eberflus's job now is to establish a strong relationship with Caleb Williams immediately and allow him to succeed. He must rally the locker room after Fields trade from spilling over into the regular season. Let Shane Waldron and his offensive staff design and call plays tailored to Williams' skill set.

Eberflus seems to be looking comfortable by growing a beard this off-season and looking like he is auditioning to be the next contestant for "The Golden Bachelor" more than a football coach. Perhaps Poles bringing him back for the 2024 season made him loosen up a bit or he got assurances that he will get at least two more years with Caleb Williams as his quarterback.

Even with a rookie quarterback, the expectations are higher now with the additions of D'Andre Swift, Gerald Everett, and Keenan Allen. And the 9th overall pick could be another wider receiver, an edge rusher to go with Montez Sweat, or trade down to get more picks and still fill out either of those positions later in the first round. the expectation for 2024 needs to be higher. Eberflus has to understand and must rise to the challenge.

The Bears fans hope he learned from multiple mistakes he made last year and become a better head coach in the long run. If Eberflus can help Williams make a successful transition into the NFL and win ballgames, he can prove his doubters wrong and go a long way toward earning respect and support.
It would also be the best-case scenario for Eberflus and the Bears in 2024.

While he has the backing of Ryan Poles, what Eberflus learned from last year and what he will do differently for the upcoming season will determine if he and the Bears have a successful marriage or if they are heading for divorce.

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