It was another frustrating Sunday for the Chicago Bears as the team lost their Week 2 matchup on the road to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 27-17. Although the Bears played better than they did in their Week One loss to the Green Bay Packers, there were still glaring weaknesses across the board for the team, which was supposed to be better than their 2022 self. Head coach Matt Eberflus is now facing the serious issue of losing the 2023 season even before the end of October and falling into a category that several other Bears’ head coaches have joined in their second season with the franchise.
Bears’ Head Coaches have Regressed In Their Second Season With The Team
There was a high level of anticipation heading into this season that the Bears would be a better team, as they were the worst team in the NFL last season as they won a league-low three games. With a flurry of offseason moves by general manager Ryan Poles, including the trade for DJ Moore, the signing of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and the drafting of offensive tackle Darnell Wright, Chicago was expected to improve and potentially contend for the playoffs. Through the first two weeks of the s, the Bears have looked like one of the league’s worst teams.
Although NFL franchises have rebounded from an 0-2 start to make the playoffs, the Bears’ schedule does not get easier as they will face the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs next week while having to deal with an extensive amount of injuries from Sunday’s loss against the Buccaneers. If Chicago can’t turn it around and improve the outlook on the season, Eberflus will likely join the same group of former Bears head coaches that features Matt Nagy, Marc Trestman, John Fox and Dick Jauron.
These four coaches failed to improve their team’s record in their second year with the Bears despite having high expectations heading into those seasons. Even worse, and similar to Eberflus, the teams those head coaches were in charge of were expected to make the playoffs those seasons.
In 2000, the Bears under Jauron were expected to be a playoff contender as they featured a top-ten offense the year prior in 1999 and had made several offseason acquisitions to improve their defense. Unfortunately, Chicago in 2000 would lose their first four games of the season and have a 1-8 start to begin the year. They would finish with a 5-11 record as their second-year quarterback, Cade McNown, regressed significantly and was traded in the offseason after being a significant locker-room issue.
Fourteen years later, an identical situation would occur with then Bears’ head coach Marc Trestman as Chicago was expected to contend for a Super Bowl heading into the 2014 season. In 2013, Trestman oversaw an offense that was the second-best scoring unit in the NFL, only behind a historic Peyton Manning-led Broncos offense. The 2014 Bears would finish with a 5-11 record despite winning eight games in 2013. The 2014 campaign was an embarrassment for Chicago as they gave up 50 points in back-to-back games, had several locker room issues, and featured the league’s worst defense, which led to Trestman and general manager Phil Emery’s being fired at season’s end.
Trestman was replaced with a proven head coach in John Fox, who had a surprisingly successful 6-10 season in 2015 as the Bears, although lacking significant talent on their roster, competed hard against better teams. It was this reason that led Chicago fans and media to believe the team would contend for the playoffs in 2016. The opposite would occur as the team only won three games, as injuries crippled the roster towards the end of the year.
Three years later, in 2019, The Bears were projected to win the Super Bowl heading into the season due to the team’s league-best defense in 2018, which led all NFL teams in sacks and takeaways. Although Chicago won 12 games in 2018, won the NFC North Division, and made the playoffs, the 2019 Bears would only win eight games as their offense regressed significantly under the offensive-minded head coach Matt Nagy. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky would struggle mightily to develop as a passer, and the team lost several one-score games.
The 2023 Chicago Bears are Staring Into A Dark Abyss In Eberflus’ Second Season As Head Coach
The 27-17 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday was troubling for a slew of reasons as Quarterback Justin Fields looks unable to process what is being seen on the field, injuries continue to mount, and the defense can’t create any pass rush pressure. Especially troubling with the loss was that the Bears’ head coach was calling plays on defense in the absence of defensive coordinator Alan Williams. Eberflus’ defense against the Buccaneers surrendered over 400 yards of offense and failed to sack or force a turnover against Tampa’s offense.
With injuries and an inability to stop opposing offenses, Chicago could hit rock bottom next week against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs’ offense, led by All-Pro quarterback Patrick Mahomes, has only averaged over 17 points through the first two weeks of this season and could use the contest against Chicago to breakout in a scoring frenzy. To make matters worse, the game against Kansas City next Sunday will be viewed by most of the country as it will be America’s Game Of The Week for Fox and could b a national embarrassment for Chicago.
Although several former Bears’ head coaches who regressed in their second year with the team were not fired, Eberflus might be, especially if Chicago can’t snap their current 12-game losing streak dating back to last October. With the injuries and the gapping weaknesses on both offense and defense, it appears unlikely that the Bears will be able to resolve their issues within the next few weeks. By the end of October, Chicago may only have one win, and if that is the case, Eberflus could be out of a job by the time December comes around.