The Chicago Bears ended their coaching search by opting to hire Matt Eberflus to be their new head coach moving forward. Eberflus has been in the league since 2009 after coaching in college and previously served as the defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts from 2018 to 2021.
Surely enough, Chicago is raring to turn the page and start a new era after having a disappointing 2021 season with a 6-11 record. However, Bears fans will have to temper their expectations. It will take time for Eberflus to get acclimated to his new role after years of serving as an assistant coach for various teams.
Nonetheless, the team and its fan base are getting renewed optimism with a new guy in charge as the Bears aim to get over the hump and play as a consistent playoff contender in the years to come. Here are some predictions for Matt Eberflus’ first season as Bears head coach.
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Bears predictions for Matt Eberflus’ first season as head coach
3. Justin Fields will be QB1 all throughout the 2022 season
The Bears started the 2021 season with Andy Dalton at the helm at quarterback, but an early injury resulted in rookie Justin Fields taking over. However, Fields later missed time because of various health issues, with Dalton getting more starts and Nick Foles even getting one start.
The Red Rifle started six of eight games played for the Bears and compiled 1,515 passing yards on 149 completions to go with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. Meanwhile, Fields played as QB1 in 10 of 12 total appearances and generated 1,870 yards on 159 completions, seven touchdowns and 10 picks in his first season in the pros. The youngster also rushed for 420 yards and a pair of scores.
With Eberflus taking charge as Fields heads into Year 2, a major focus will be on the young quarterback’s development, which will be a crucial factor in the Bears’ success. Fields had his struggles as a rookie that will need to be fixed, but poor coaching and a lack of weapons didn’t help. While Eberflus isn’t an offensive guru, hiring Luke Getsy away from the Green Bay Packers to be the offensive coordinator will be a key to improving Fields as a quarterback.
Hopefully, Fields will finally get to fully showcase his abilities as Chicago’s QB1 and prove that he is indeed capable of carrying a team on his back as its leader on offense.
2. Chicago will be a better defensive team moving forward
Needless to say, a team that hired a former defensive coordinator as its new head coach will ensure that the defensive side of the ball will be utilized as its main point of emphasis on the field. That will surely be expected of Eberflus, who has handled defensive units for the entirety of his career, save for a passing game coordinator stint which he juggled while serving as the linebackers coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
Eberflus did a solid job with the Colts’ defense, which thrived in stopping the run last season. He is expected to carry over that level of success with a Bears side that struggled to limit opposing rushers in 2021. While Chicago’s passing defense excelled, the rush defense ranked 23rd in yards allowed per game.
There will also be an emphasis on forcing turnovers. Indianapolis ranked second in takeaways in 2021 with 33 and consistently ranked toward the top of the NFL with Eberflus coaching the defense, while Chicago only forced 16 turnovers.
The Bears’ front office still has work to do to improve the personnel, but look for Eberflus to have this team playing strong defense in 2022.
1. The Bears will improve but will still fall short of the playoffs
For the past few years, the Bears were unable to gain consistency with Matt Nagy manning the sidelines. They moved on from Mitch Trubisky and juggled Andy Dalton and Justin Fields (with a dash of Nick Foles) as their starting quarterbacks in 2021.
After finishing with a 6-11 record, the Bears are now focused on getting better with a new regime led by Ryan Poles as general manager and Matt Eberflus as head coach. Poles is bringing in Ian Cunningham, the former director of player personnel of the Philadelphia Eagles, to serve as assistant general manager. The hiring of Luke Getsy from the Packers also looks like a coup.
The Bears should improve as a team and surpass their 2021 campaign with the new guys they have on their staff. However, expectations should still be tempered for a first-time head coach with a young quarterback.
Additionally, there is still a ton left to do with the roster. The team needs to be filled with quality starters and sufficient depth on both sides of the ball. Yes, the Bears are bound to improve under Eberflus, but it will take a while before they can make it back to the postseason as a consistent contender.