The Chicago Bears had a bit of momentum entering the game against the Cleveland Browns. They beat the Minnesota Vikings 12-10 on Monday Night Football, giving head coach Matt Eberflus his first win against the NFC North opponent, though the game was ugly and made the entire nation fall asleep. Then, they beat the Detroit Lions 28-13 the following week, where both offenses played well enough, and the defense embarrassed Lions quarterback Jared Goff the entire afternoon.
The Cleveland Browns were hit with multiple season-ending injuries entering this week's game. Left Tackle Jedric Wills, Right Tackle Dawand Jones, Safety Grant Delpit, and Defense End Ogbonnia Okoronkwo were ruled out for the season. Center Ethan Pocic was ruled out for the game with a stinger as well. Everything was in favor of the Bears to beat the Browns on the road.
Instead of celebrating another victory, this time over a playoff-caliber opponent, the Bears blew another double-digit lead, entering the game in the fourth quarter and suffering a 20-17 loss.
This latest infuriating loss was a microcosm of how this season has gone for the Bears.
The Bears' defense both balled out and bailed out the offense at the same time. After both teams traded punts the entire first quarter, Safety Eddie Jackson picked off a pass and returned the ball to the Browns' 1-yard line early in the second quarter off Brown quarterback Joe Flacco. It took a while, but the Bears managed to score the first touchdown when Justin Fields escaped the pressure from All-Pro pass rusher Myles Garrett and tossed a 5-yard pass to tight end Cole Kmet.
Then, in the third quarter, the Bears linebacker TJ Edwards hit Browns tight end David Njoku, jarring the ball loose, and fellow linebacker Tremaine Edwards picked off the ball in the air for pick 6. Even after the punter returner Trent Taylor muffed the punt and Cleveland recovered the ball at the Bears' 20-yard line, rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson picked off Flacco on the first pass attempt to bail out. The Bears managed to get a 41-yard field goal from Cairo Santos and took a 17-7 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Then, for the third time this season, the Bears blew another double-digit lead that led to another heartbreaking loss. Despite the defense doing more than enough to keep the Bears in the game, the offense sputtered with multiple three-and-outs, allowing Cleveland to get back into the game.
The latest loss finally made the players openly critical about how the offense became "lackadaisical" in the third quarter because of the conservative nature of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who showed once again that he has no feel for calling plays during the game. We saw another 4th and 1 conversion failure and 3rd and 3 jet sweep that went nowhere, which keeps happening to this team.
After the game, the players were openly vocal about Getsy and his play calling.
People will dismiss Darnell Mooney's comment after having the worst game as a Bear. Yes, he whiffed the block on 4th and 1 run that Fields failed to get a first down. And the drop that could have won the game on the final Hail Mary attempt. He deserves plenty of blame. But then DJ Moore chimed in to support his claim.
After failing to close for the third time, the Bears should move on from
Matt Eberflus after this season.
For Matt Eberflus, the momentum to keep the job was starting to grow after winning two straight games, and had he beaten the Browns today, he would have won three straight games and deserved all the credit. His defense picked off Flacco three times and sacked him four times, including 2.5 sacks from Montez Sweat, who has fueled a recent defensive surge ever since the trade that brought him over from Washington.
Yet, all we will remember from this game was how his team blew another double-digit lead in the fourth quarter for the third time this season. Third time!!
We will never understand why defensive end Dominique Robinson, who had been inactive for the last six weeks, was dropping in coverage on a 51-yard game-tying touchdown scored by wide receiver Amari Cooper. And why did defensive tackle Justin Jones dropped back in coverage against tight end David Njoku while the defense blitzed on 3rd and 15, resulting in big gains and a game-winning field goal?
While the defense has improved enough after he took over to possibly save his own job, the same cannot be said about Getsy, who was untested and lacked experience when he was hired. His play calling always stagnates and has not improved at all despite his second year as an offensive coordinator and an upgrade in talent entering this season.
Eberflus could have fired Getsy in the middle of this season to see if the offense could produce more. Instead, the players are starting to show frustration following another mind numbing loss where the offense struggled again following another frustration loss, where the players are frustrated about this coaching staff.
Even more damning is how Justin Fields has been victimized by this subpar coaching staff, and like Eberflus, his future remains uncertain with only three games remaining this season. The Bears could have had clarity by now, and failing to offer any of that shows the ineptness of his entire staff.
As team president Kevin Warren and General Manager Ryan Poles look into the off-season, the result of the next three games should not have any influence on their decision. They must remember how the Bears blew a double-digit lead against the Denver Broncos and the Detroit Lions while they were in attendance.
Rather than further strengthening his case to return in 2024, Matt Eberflus offered further evidence for the front office to move on from Eberflus this off-season after another stunning loss that has become far too often under his leadership.