Chicago Bears opt for more of the same with new hires
January 27, 2022
Just weeks ago Chicago Bears fans rejoiced at the news of the firings of General Manager Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy. Now, with a long off season looming, Chicago fans are left with even more questions than before.
Although Virginia Halas McCaskey, the 98 year-old owner of the Bears, has received immediate media backlash from this recent round of hirings, there are certainly positives that cannot be overlooked. For starters, look no further than just how bad the former staff was. I mean, other than the lone Roquan Smith pick in 2018, Ryan Pace’s first round selections were nothing short of embarrassing. A team that has been desperately in need of young talent since the hiring of Pace was somehow only able to muster together the likes of Kevin White, Leonard Floyd, and Mitchell Trubisky. Looking beyond the fact that this staff had opportunities to draft both Patrcik Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, the “offensive guru” Matt Nagy was an absolute train wreck. He refused to adjust his scheme for his players, was awful with the media, and made a multitude of questionable decisions that single-handedly tilted final scores in the wrong direction. So, with all of that being said, regardless of the successes of this newly hired staff, it will be extremely difficult to be any worse than their predecessors.
Furthermore, although these hirings were not the flashy names many Bears fans were hoping for, it is certainly not all bad. Matt Eberflus’s defense was able to generate the third most turn overs in the league, and his players certainly bought into what he was teaching. Coupling that with the fact that Ryan Poles has been considered to be very close with Chief’s current general manager, Brett Veach, and there are certainly reasons to have a glass-half-full outlook; because if the Bears can get back to the great defensive football they are known for, whilst retaining stars like Kansas City, the stars may just align.
The Bears hired a defensive minded coach. Nearly all of Chicago was pleading for a guy to come in and help the franchise’s new shiny toy Justin Fields, but per usual, the Bears opted to stay unpredictable. Eberflus was a guy who received interest in last year’s head coaching hire carousel, but ultimately left without a job, and there is certainly a reason behind that. Since taking over as the Defensive Coordinator in Indianapolis, there have been serious problems with both third down and passing defense. In both 2019 and 2021, Eberflus had his team finish at a below-average No. 18 in third down defense, and in 2020, they finished in a near-last No. 27 in said department. As for passing defense, it doesn’t get much better. He had his group finish at a career-best eight in passing defense this season, but prior to that his groups finished at an average No. 17. Not ideal for a team trying to create a new culture in the heart of a pass-first era.
As for Ryan Poles, it feels like a hire that looks safe on paper, but with further investigation, success seems hard. Poles is being put in an extremely hard position, as he is missing his first-round-pick this season, and has a roster that has a wide range of ages, goals, and ideologies. Pace left him with a hard mess to clean up, and this job would be hard for just about anyone. However, it may be especially hard for Poles. Poles is coming from an environment where just about everything was going right on both sides of the ball, and will be swiftly met with a reality check when dealing with a developing quarterback and a roster full of holes. Now, if Poles is able to fill these holes, more credit to him, but it seems hard for anyone, and especially hard for someone with limited draft capital, and no experience at this high of a position at any level.
Justin. Fields. The king of Chicago. The player who the Windy City has on a pedestal. The man who has been worshiped to near messiah levels is left with the short end of the stick. Not only did the Bears opt for a defensive minded guy, but Eberflus does not come from a coaching tree where a potential offensive coordinator hire catered to Fields seems likely. Now, at the time of writing this article, the Bears have yet to hire an OC, and if Eberflus is able to bring in a guy who has proven he can groom a quarterback, so be it, but as of now, I am honestly floored by the fact the Bears would even take this kind of risk with a young gunslinger who needs help, especially with the likes of Kellen Moore and Brian Daboll still not head coaching jobs.
So there you have it. Bears fans are constantly dealing with heartbreak, and these hires feel like a raspberry-filled chocolate at best. Although expectations were high, fans are left feeling uneasy, and wanting more.