The Bears have had an up-and-down season in Year 2 under head coach Matt Eberflus. As a result, his name has been floated as a candidate to be replaced this offseason, but it remains to be seen if the team’s front office will authorize a change.
Both Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles will be evaluated after the 2023 season, Dianna Russini of The Athletic reports (subscription required). New president Kevin Warren has signficant sway in the team’s direction, and Russini notes he has spent his time in Chicago “getting a feel for the organization.” Warren will have a major say with respect to changes on the sidelines and in the front office, but the Eberflus-Poles pairing still has time to make a positive impression.
The Bears currently sit at 4-8 on the season, one in which improvement from last season’s tear-down campaign was expected. Chicago began the year with five losses out of the first six games, but a 3-3 record since then has likely helped the cause for Eberflus, Poles and quarterback Justin Fields to remain in their current positions. The latter could easily be replaced this spring given the Bears’ strong chance of owning the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft, but he appears to still have the backing of the team at this point.
Nevertheless, it would not come as a shock if Eberflus were to be let go after the campaign. In that event, a number of candidates would no doubt be on the team’s radar. One of those is Eric Bieniemy, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reports. The longtime Chiefs offensive coordinator took the OC position in Washington this offseason in a move which granted him play-calling duties and the added title of assistant head coach.
In the eyes of many, it also set Bieniemy up for his first NFL head coaching position in the event he were to remain with the Commanders in 2024 and beyond. Current head coach Ron Rivera is widely believed to be on the way out at the conclusion of this season, and Bieniemy’s work with respect to developing second-year passer Sam Howell has drawn praise. The Commanders rank 10th in the league in total offense despite a mediocre ground game, but the team’s defense has floundered in recent weeks in particular and resulted in a 4-9 record.
The Bears are in a similar position in the win-loss column, but improved play on defense – Eberflus’ familiarity dating back to his coordinator days – has been evident at times in recent games. Chicago ranks 11th in yards allowed per game this season (319) and first against the run (79). Eberflus has served as the defensive play-caller since the sudden resignation of DC Alan Williams in September. That move, along with the acquisition and extension of defensive end Montez Sweat, has not yielded a strong performance in the pass-rush department, however.
Eberflus and Poles were mentioned in a September report as being on the hot seat, but the former later expressed the support he had received from the organization. Plenty is still to be determined over the closing weeks of the season, but the Bears’ organizational direction will be a major storyline to watch upon the conclusion of the campaign. With the prospect of two top-10 picks in April’s draft, the team’s HC position could be an attractive one for Bieniemy if he were to find himself in consideration for the job, though he could also receive interest from other teams this offseason.