While the Matt Nagy–Ryan Pace regime showed early issues, the Bears did not produce a losing season until the fourth and final year of that partnership. Although circumstances are a bit different for Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles, the team is in a worse spot than it was during the previous duo’s run.
The Bears have now lost 13 straight games, and their defense has cratered under Eberflus, a defensive-oriented head coach. Alan Williams, the defensive coordinator who followed Eberflus from Indianapolis, lasted only 18 games with the team. Inappropriate conduct on Williams’ part is believed to have occurred, and the Bears’ defense has taken significant steps back since Eberflus arrived. While the Bears have gutted the nucleus that helped Mitch Trubisky pilot the team to two playoff berths, it finished last in points allowed in 2022 and ranks 31st this season.
Following Williams’ exit and Justin Fields making comments about the coaching staff’s role in his struggles — a point the third-year QB attempted to walk back — Poles addressed the state of the team. The Bears are early in the Poles-run rebuild, but a new president — ex-Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren — is in place. A growing suspicion exists in league circles Warren is already considering rebooting the operation, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes.
Fields ranks last in QBR, sitting nearly six points behind Zach Wilson, through three games. The Poles regime did not draft Fields, who threatened to break Lamar Jackson‘s single-season QB rushing record last season, but has a clear stake in his future. The Bears traded away the No. 1 overall pick, showing a belief in Fields over an investment in the likes of Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. Chicago should be well-positioned for the 2024 draft, holding their own pick and Carolina’s. Another QB investment may be necessary, but it will be worth wondering if this regime will be in place to make the picks by then.
One GM told La Canfora that Warren has seen enough to know change needs to take place. The Bears do not fire coaches in-season, and it would represent a quick trigger to dump Poles so early in his rebuild effort. But two-and-done coaches are standard practice in the NFL. Quick GM hooks are less common, though these moves have taken place in the recent past. The Jets dropped John Idzik after his second season, while the Texans canned Brian Gaine midway through his second offseason.
Warren arrived in January, succeeding longtime team president Ted Phillips. The latter was in his final months on the job when Poles and Eberflus were hired, and La Canfora notes Bill Polian played a lead role in the hires. The Bears have kept their organizational workflow in place from the Phillips era, with Warren stationed as the buffer between ownership and the football ops department. Warren would have the power to fire the second-year GM-HC duo and lead the next search. Not directly in charge of the Bears’ football ops, Warren is believed to have a role on that side.
The Bears have not had a two-and-done HC since Marc Trestman, who was fired after the 2014 season. Trestman also stands as the Bears’ only two-and-done period since the 1970 merger. Trestman went 13-19. Poles should be considered on safer ground, but Eberflus — now in place as the Bears’ defensive play-caller — should certainly be viewed as a hot-seat occupant given recent developments.