Next moves for Chicago Bears following report that Matt Eberflus is returning in 2024

NFL insider Ian Rapoport believes that Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus is trending towards being retained by the team in 2024. What does this mean for general manager Ryan Poles and the rest of his offseason decisions?

Arizona Cardinals v Chicago Bears
Arizona Cardinals v Chicago Bears / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
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The Chicago Bears have been a longshot to make the playoffs for the entire season, which has made the second half of the schedule an on-the-job interview for Matt Eberflus to stick around.

Eberflus, seen above perfectly mimicking Donald Sutherland in the iconic ending to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, has survived to this point in part because the Bears have always been a conservative organization that has, incredibly, never fired a coach in-season in its over 100-year history. Eberflus has capitalized on that long leash, engineering an impressive turnaround that has seen the Bears win four of six while playing some of the best defense in the NFL.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport believes that all signs point to Eberflus returning in 2024, saying on NFL Gameday Kickoff that he's hearing nothing but positive vibes from Chicago.

Rapoport is correct in saying that the Bears, especially on defense, have greatly improved in recent weeks, but with two games still to play, Eberflus' return is still just speculation at this point. The Bears will likely need to continue their quality play to end the season, especially against the hated Packers in Week 18, for Eberflus to truly feel comfortable that his keycard to Halas Hall will continue to work.

Let's assume that Rapoport is right and Eberflus will be safe when the NFL coaching carousel spins into gear. Arguably the most consequential offseason in franchise history is looming, so what would keeping Eberflus tell us about the rest of the Bears' potential moves?

General manager Ryan Poles is facing a multitude of massive decisions that have the potential to catapult the Bears into the upper echelon NFL contenders if handled correctly. Is retaining Eberflus one of them?

The Bears have undoubtedly been a much better team in the second half, and since taking over defensive playcalling duties from former defensive coordinator Alan Williams, Eberflus has worked wonders on that side of the ball. His in-game management has still left Bears fans frustrated, though, as his conservative second-half gameplans have let several winnable games slip away.

The way I see it, Ryan Poles has no less than four mammoth decisions to make this offseason. Determining the fate of Eberflus is one. Let's predict how the possibility of keeping continuity at the head coaching position could affect the other three.

1) Expect the Bears to re-sign Jaylon Johnson

Eberflus' success in rejuvenating the Bears' defense is the strongest argument for keeping him, so it's unlikely Ryan Poles will want to do anything to disrupt that progress. Johnson has played like the best cornerback in football, and he has expressed a desire to remain in Chicago. Even after signing Montez Sweat to a four-year, $98 million extension, the Bears are still in the top ten in the league in available cap space next year, so meeting Johnson's contract demands should be a no-brainer.

2) Keeping Eberflus gives Luke Getsy a chance to remain as offensive coordinator, but unrest in the fanbase will lead to the Bears looking elsewhere

If Eberflus was fired at season's end, the conversation surrounding embattled Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy would be moot. Though keeping Eberflus leaves open the possibility that Getsy could also stay, the smart money says that Getsy will be replaced. Bears fans have been almost unanimous in calling for Getsy's ouster, and the statistics don't do him any favors either.

The Bears are one of the worst teams in the league on non-scripted plays, and that aligns with the eye test. Getsy has failed to make halftime adjustments, and his playcalling is often maddeningly predictable. He hasn't catered towards Justin Fields' strengths as a runner and deep passer, and that lack of adaptability will be his undoing. Poles is a smart GM, and he has to see that the offense has been lagging behind the defense. That falls on Getsy. Expect him to take the fall.

3) The Bears will keep Justin Fields and trade the #1 pick

This is the most important decision facing Poles, but it's also the toughest one to get a read on. The Bears have been skewered in recent years for not aligning the timelines of their head coach and quarterback, first when they drafted Mitch Trubisky but kept John Fox, then when they drafted Justin Fields but kept Matt Nagy. Both times, the head coach failed to make it to a second season with their newly drafted quarterback.

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Ryan Pace presided over both of those mistakes, but Ryan Poles has earned the benefit of the doubt from Bears fans. If Eberflus was fired, I would lean toward Poles drafting Caleb Williams or Drake Maye with the #1 pick and uniting them with a new head coach. If Eberflus stays, that tells me that Poles believes the team is headed in the right direction. Surrounding Justin Fields with even more talent will only continue that progress.