The Chicago Bears had the game won. They were up 12 with four minutes left. For a normal football team, that is a win. Sadly, we’ve established this team is anything but normal. After watching them squander a 28-7 lead in the 4th quarter against Denver a few weeks ago, people should’ve known that no lead is safe for the Bears. Sure enough, the Detroit Lions scored quickly, got a quick stop, and scored again with 29 seconds left. It was another brutal meltdown that head coach Matt Eberflus failed to explain away. All he could say after the carnage was the team needed to finish better.
As always, the man has a gift for understatement. He also has a gift for 4th quarter collapses. That marked the fourth time in a calendar year that his team gave away the lead in the final 15 minutes of a game. Such a trend is inexcusable, especially for a head coach supposedly known for strong defenses. People continue debating what the problems are with this Bears team. However, it’s becoming obvious to all that everything starts with Eberflus. He is the source for almost all of their issues. Even opponents can see it. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune spoke to a top Lions player. His assessment was clear.
Talent isn’t the Bears’ problem.
Coaches are always saying glowing things about opponents — present and future — especially in front of cameras and recorders. I asked linebacker Alex Anzalone if Campbell was working that same message in team meetings. Yes, he was, Anzalone said. Then, I asked for the veteran’s assessment.
“100%, they have a good team,” Anzalone said of the Bears. “You could see it on film. They have a great team.”
Hold on, I said. It’s a 3-8 team. We have to rethink how we throw around the word great, right?
“I would say great personnel,” Anzalone replied. “I think defensively, they have two really good corners. I know (Tyrique) Stevenson. I train with him. I watch the defense a lot (when studying offenses the Lions will prepare for). They have some money in the linebacker room and they’ve got Eddie Jackson back there (at safety). They’ve got a physical D-line and they got (Montez) Sweat. Defensively, they have great personnel in my opinion.
“Offensively, getting Justin Fields back will help them a ton. They have Cole Kmet and DJ Moore. The personnel is there. It’s just about putting it together.”
Matt Eberflus can’t hide from the evidence.
For 55 minutes on Sunday, the Bears players outplayed the Lions in every facet of the game. Detroit is the second-best team in the NFC. Chicago wasn’t just beating them. They were beating them up. Then, several conservative coaching decisions in the final minutes opened the door for the Lions to steal the game. That collapse had nothing to do with a more talented team simply overpowering a less talented one. Chicago was sabotaged by a coach who was making decisions not to lose.
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This is who Matt Eberflus is. He is another in a long line of defensive head coaches who coach teams defensively despite the rules being heavily skewed in favor of the offenses. You need to have an aggressive mindset to win in this league. Too many times, he has demonstrated a total lack of it. This doesn’t even account for his clock management, personnel decisions, and inability to instill more discipline in his players. When talent is no longer the problem with an organization, it’s time to address the coaching.
Eberflus isn’t the guy. The Bears must do something about it six weeks from now.