There was a collective groan from Chicago Bears fans when the news broke their team would be involved in not one but two Thursday night games this year. It isn’t a secret those games are unpopular for a reason. They tend to be ugly on the field and can often lead teams to suffer injuries. So having to play two of them in the same season is a real kick in the gut. However, one person doesn’t see it that way. Head coach Matt Eberflus holds a different viewpoint when it comes to that.
While the short turnaround is tough, there is an unforeseen benefit that isn’t talked about enough. It is the long layoff following the game. He explained during his recent press conference.
“You look at two Thursday games that are Game 5 and Game 10, so you really have two mini-byes, and I think that’s a real big positive for us. Gives us a little break after five games and after 10 games,” Eberflus said. “We got our real bye at Week 13. Then you finish with five games at the end … I think it’s good and I think we have some good rest in there so we can rest and recover and get refreshed to play our best football.”
Eberflus knows the benefit of a mini-bye well. After the Bears’ unfortunate loss to Washington on Thursday night last year (which they came a bobbled pass away from winning), they visited New England 11 days later. The Bears throttled the Patriots 33-14. Eberflus and his staff had used that extra time off well. So it makes sense he’d have a positive outlook on two Thursday games.
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Matt Eberflus knows the benefits of having extra preparation time.
Following their official bye week last year, the Bears came surprisingly close to knocking off the eventual NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles. If they can do that with the roster they had in 2022, there is no telling how much better things could be with a considerably deeper and more talented group this season. The best part is both of those mini-byes will come to an end with games against division rivals. The first will be at home against Minnesota, and the other will be on the road in Detroit. Considering how vital divisional games are, this is a significant benefit for the Bears.
They also play the Lions at home following their official bye week. That means Matt Eberflus and his staff will have extra time to prepare for three of the team’s six divisional games. He is right. That is a huge advantage. It doesn’t include the extra prep time the Bears have for their opener against Green Bay. While nobody can say this schedule is easy, it does give the team some highly fortuitous opportunities. Eberflus understands he can and must take advantage of them.