Jim Harbaugh

Bears Overreactions: Jim Harbaugh-JJ McCarthy pairing will revive Bears?

With only two games remaining in the 2023 season, the focus on the Bears shifts fully toward the right QB-coach combo to lead them back to prominence

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The Bears rebounded from their disaster in Cleveland with a ho-hum 27-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Eve.

Quarterback Justin Fields and the offense scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, but the offense stalled in the second half and had to rely on another good defensive effort to secure the win.

The 6-9 Bears will face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. But with playoff hopes on life support, the focus largely shifts to the future and finding the right quarterback-coach-offensive coordinator combination to lead this rebuild forward.

That's where this mailbag starts and ends:

Overreaction? Yes and no

This is the issue with potentially not having everyone -- head coach, coordinators, quarterback -- on the same track.

But I don't think it's that big of a deal.

If Eberflus returns, which feels likely, I have a hard time seeing him surrender play-calling duties, given the leap the defense has taken this season under his watch. Potentially being on the hot seat entering Year 3 could make it hard to woo a quality addition to the defensive coaching staff, but I think that's something Eberflus can navigate relatively easily.

I don't think it will be that difficult to find a new offensive coordinator to work with Fields, regardless of Eberflus' status. There are only 32 offensive coordinator jobs in the NFL, and whoever the Bears hire will have pretty much total autonomy to craft the offense he wants. He will also get to work with a talented quarterback in Fields, who, despite his passing warts, is a signal-caller that many young offensive minds will want to work with.

Remember, Eric Bienemy left the Chiefs to call plays for Washington, knowing Ron Rivera was on the hot seat. Coaches don't think about it being only a one-year stop. They will see opportunity to accelerate their own career for a marquee franchise with an answer at quarterback.

Overreaction? No

Jones was judged unfairly given the spot he was put in last season and early this season without a top-tier edge rusher beside him.

I've talked to Jones several times this season -- both pre- and post-Sweat trade -- and he has always maintained that if the offensive line has to focus (shift, chip, double) on someone else, he will make a bigger impact than he did in 2022.

Since Sweat's arrival, Jones has 17 pressures and four sacks. He's a good, rotational defensive tackle who is respected in the locker room. I could see the Bears trying to bring him back on an affordable deal, especially if they believe Gervon Dexter (17.2 percent pass-rush win rate, 15 percent pressure rate in last five games) will make a Year 2 leap.

Overreaction? 100 times yes

If the Bears own the No. 1 pick and move on from Justin Fields, they will use the No. 1 pick on a quarterback. There's no scenario I can see where the quarterback of the Bears next year is someone other than Fields, Caleb Williams, or Drake Maye.

If Jim Harbaugh wants to coach the Bears, it should be a no-brainer for Chicago's brass. But J.J. McCarthy won't be a factor in the equation. Salary and personnel control are what will likely matter to Harbaugh in any potential move to the Bears.

If Harbaugh is the head coach and gets to pick his quarterback, he will want to choose the guy that gives him the best shot to build a sustained winner. McCarthy has some intriguing traits, but he's QB4/5 on the board in this draft. Talent evaluators that I've talked to believe there's a big gap between Williams and Maye and where McCarthy fits in this class.

In 2010, everyone thought Pete Carroll would take Taylor Mays since he played for him at USC. Carroll took Texas safety Earl Thomas instead because he viewed Thomas as the better NFL option.

Harbaugh would do the same.

Overreaction? Yes

Owning the Panthers' first-round pick allows the Bears not to have to bring "tanking" into the equation as they did last year when they sat Fields in Week 18.

I don't think the final two games will affect Fields' trade value. NFL teams know what he is and what he can be. There are teams that will be enamored with his potential and some who have no interest at all. Games against the Falcons and Packers won't change that.

The Bears believe they are building something, and closing the season out with three straight wins will give them positive momentum heading into 2024.

Don't expect any tanking over the final two weeks.

Overreaction? Yes

No team drafts a quarterback with the No. 1 pick to compete with the guy they just drafted at No. 11 three years prior.

If the Bears draft a quarterback, Fields will play elsewhere in 2024. You don't use premium draft capital on players to potentially sit them.

As for Eberflus, the feeling with people I've talked to around the league is that it's trending towards him returning. Things are less clear with Getsy.

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