Bears Insider

Bears overreactions: Is Lions debacle final straw for Matt Eberflus?

The debacle in Detroit has everyone searching for answers about the future of the Matt Eberflus Bears

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Justin Fields returned Sunday in Detroit, and the Bears physically dominated the NFC North-leading Lions for 54 minutes.

Then everything unraveled in the blink of an eye as the Bears blew a 12-point lead in the final 4:15. It was a historic loss on several levels.

It was a meltdown of epic proportions that should lead to some difficult conversations about the direction of the rebuild and who the foundational pieces -- both player and coach -- should be.

That's where we start this week's mailbag. With Matt Eberflus' future and how much the Detroit debacle might impact it:

Overreaction? It can't be at this point

I've been pretty convinced that Matt Eberflus' job is safe. I think there are a number of reasons to believe he gets Year 3.

General manager Ryan Poles genuinely seems to think he's the right man for the job. The defensive improvement since Eberflus has taken over the reins can't be ignored. I also don't think the Bears hold last year's 3-14 season against him. How could they?

But if there's one thing that can turn the tide, it might be what happened in Detroit. That was inexcusable on a multitude of levels.

The Bears played not to lose once they entered the fourth quarter.

The Bears opened the final frame by not converting a third-and-1 on a quarterback sneak. Eberflus went for it on two fourth downs earlier in the game but elected to take the field goal and go up nine. That defensible.

On the Bears' next drive, quarterback Justin Fields got them inside the Lions' 30-yard line on a 29-yard run. Up nine, the Bears had a chance to go for the kill shot with Fields in a groove. Instead, they turtled up, electing to run it three times and kick a short field goal.

You can also critique the timeout Eberflus called when the Lions got down to the 1-yard line with 31 seconds to go. Eberflus called the timeout to preserve time for the Bears offense, but the Bears might have been better served forcing the Lions, who were out of timeouts, to rush to the line and try to execute in a hurry.

We can also nitpick the defensive end "rotation" that saw Montez Sweat play just 63 percent of the snaps and only half of the Lions' third-down and red zone plays.

The Bears also played linebacker Dylan Cole one snap on defense. That snap happened to be on a second-and-goal from the 2-yard line that ended with Jahmyr Gibbs blistering Cole in a foot race to score the Lions' first touchdown.

If I were a gambling man (I dabble), I'd say Eberflus avoids the axe after the season. The Bears have winnable games on their schedule. A 5-12 finish is an improvement from last season, and Poles understands it's early in the process.

But the Lions meltdown causes a snowball effect, and the Bears start to fold, that could be all she wrote.

Overreaction? No

The NFL is all about self-preservation, and the ladder of power shows you who the shields are when it comes time to make changes.

General managers normally get two head coaches and at least one quarterback that's of their choosing. So, as far as Poles is concerned, Eberflus and Fields will likely be swapped out before he gets ejector-seated.

Eberflus' seat, should he keep his job, will be hot this offseason. That, coupled with the very plausible scenario of drafting a new quarterback, could likely lead to a change at offensive coordinator.

Getsy has his warts as a play-caller. There's no doubt. But he's an easy scapegoat for issues that go far beyond his control.

But that's how the NFL works.

I don't think there's a world where Eberflus and Getsy are both back. If the Bears plan to draft a different quarterback and move on from Fields, they should scrap the entire operation and ensure the new quarterback is on the same timeline as his coach and play-caller.

But that's how functioning organizations work. The Bears aren't there yet.

Overreaction? A little

Poles should shoulder a bunch of the blame for this season.

His offseason moves have been hit-and-miss at best.

Linebacker T.J. Edwards has played well after a slow start, defensive tackle Andrew Billings has bolstered the run defense, and Darnell Wright looks like a franchise right tackle.

Edmunds has been underwhelming, Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens have been slow developing, and the Chase Claypool trade blew up in his face after three weeks.

You can point to several routes the Bears could have gone that might (likely would've had) a more significant impact on the team than the investments Poles made. Jalen Carter and Orlando Brown Jr. are the two that come to mind, but Wright has been good, and Braxton Jones has not been the weak link on the offensive line.

Poles could have tried to draft a center in the second round instead of cornerback Tyrique Stevenson or Dexter. There's an argument to be made that going Jalen Carter and John Michael Schmitz with the first two picks would have been a better use of the draft capital.

There's reason to critique Poles' roster-building approach, but an almost fully healthy Bears team just drubbed the Lions for 54 minutes before melting down, so perhaps patience is required with the GM.

Overreaction? Yes and no

The easy way to answer this is: if Fields ends up staying, he likely played well enough to win games, and therefore, Eberflus is safe like Dave Roberts in the 2004 ALCS.

If Eberflus is gone, it's almost a near certainty Fields is also out, and the Bears will move on with a new coach-QB combo.

Hard to imagine a world where Fields plays well enough to earn their full long-term confidence, but Eberflus is launched out of Halas Hall.

I don't think it has anything to do with the amount of coaches/coordinators Fields has had. It's more about the logical scenario that Fields being good will likely equal better play from the Bears, which reflects positively on Eberflus, and we're all vibing together into the offseason, right? Right?!

As an aside, while Fields' stock is up after one game, the Bears are looking at the totality of his tenure, and it's going to take a lot more than 54 good minutes for them to pick him over Caleb Williams/Drake Maye and the opportunity to reset the QB contract timeline.

There are a lot of moving pieces and long-term ramifications to consider. Three good quarters in Detroit is a minuscule piece of the puzzle.

Overreaction? No

I'm just going to focus on the final bullet point here since we've touched on Eberflus and Fields ad nauseam.

Drafting Marvin Harrison Jr. is a no-brainer.

If the Bears have the chance to draft him, and it doesn't interfere with their long-term quarterback plans, they shouldn't waste a second.

If Fields cements himself as the guy in the final six games, giving him Harrison to pair with DJ Moore would be NOS in his development fuel lines.

If Fields doesn't, and the Bears somehow end up with two of the top five picks and can draft Williams or Maye and Harrison, they should do that. The Bengals pairing Joe Burrow with JaMarr Chase was a brilliant blueprint that should be copied.

You need an elite wide receiver to win in today's NFL. Having two makes your offense almost impossible to stop.

Overreaction? I'd like to say yes.

The Jim Harbaugh piece of the equation, for the Bears and all NFL teams, will be interesting to monitor this offseason.

It feels like Harbaugh's time at Michigan is coming to an end, especially if the Wolverines finish the deal and win the College Football Playoff National Championship.

If Harbaugh chooses to return to the NFL, the Bears seem like an obvious fit.

But you bring up two good points.

He will carry a hefty price tag, and the Bears might not be interested in writing a big check while also paying the current staff to exit the building. The second part of the Harbaugh scenario is that he could very well ask for personnel control, which would either mean Poles goes or the Bears construct a Mike Mayock/Jon Gruden structure where Poles is the GM, but Harbaugh gets the final say on personnel decisions.

That's a sticky scenario.

The Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers (assuming Brandon Staley is gone) seem like great fits for Harbaugh.

He'd be an excellent hire for the Bears. He wins. He wears out his welcome, but he wins.

I'm not sure that's the route they'd take if they move on from Eberflus, though.

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