Justin Fields

Will Justin Fields-Matt Eberflus relationship continue to be bedrock of Bears' rebuild?

The Bears' coach-QB relationship has been the key to everything inside Halas Hall these past two years

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- No matter what happens next, Matt Eberflus and Justin Fields will always be linked together.

When Eberflus took the job as the Bears' head coach, he prioritized being present with the offense and building a bond with Fields -- a quarterback he didn't draft but who would play a key role in whether or not his regime found early success.

Eberflus is present in the quarterback meetings and the "breakfast club" meetings. He and Fields have worked and grown together over these two seasons. It's a relationship that has become the bedrock of this Bears' rebuild.

"Their relationship is really neat," quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko said. "That relationship between a head coach and a quarterback is really everything. I think as that relationship continues to blossom, as that continues to grow, then [Fields'] growth continues."

Being a defensive-minded head coach, Eberflus could have done what countless others have done before him and focused on the side of the ball he's familiar with, leaving the offensive coaches and players mostly on their own.

Instead, Eberflus entered with a CEO's mindset. He wanted to oversee the entire operation and especially wanted to be present as much as possible in offensive meetings.

Eberflus believed it was essential for him and Fields to develop a relationship because of the positions they hold and the market they are in.

“It was intentional for sure that first year to stay with the offense a bunch and work with them and be in the quarterback room, much more than I have been this year," Eberflus said Friday of his relationship with Fields. "It’s really important for the quarterback of the franchise, a quarterback of any franchise, to be close to the head coach because those are the two guys who really, let’s face it, get a lot of criticism, and that’s all part of the biz. You have to stay steady, be confident, be clutch when it matters, and be consistent.

" I think it’s important that a quarterback and a head coach have that.”

Building a strong relationship with Fields has allowed the head coach and quarterback to see things from each other's point of view. It creates a collaborative approach that has helped the quarterback and coach grow and navigate the bumps early in their journey together.

"I think it’s kinda refreshing for a quarterback to be able to see the other perspective of it," Ebeflus said. "We talk coverages all the time, we talk what the defense is trying to do to the offense or to that particular player. I think it’s another way to look at it, and I think the education is a dual education."

Eberflus and Fields are the current foundational pieces of this Bears rebuild, along with DJ Moore, Montez Sweat, and Cole Kmet, to name a few.

But the spotlight always shines brightest on the quarterback and coach. It's a tandem that has weathered storm after storm this season and has helped the Bears come out on the other side at 6-9, with a chance to finish the season with seven or eight wins.

It's also a relationship that might only have two games left together.

The Bears' defensive improvement this season and refusal to let go of the rope has likely assured Eberflus of a third season at the helm.

But Fields' future in Chicago is much less uncertain.

Fields has shown growth this season. The pocket presence and accuracy are much improved. The "200" directive given to Fields by Eberflus has allowed the quarterback to be the best version of himself. The arrow is trending up for Fields.

But the Bears are also slated to own the No. 1 pick via the Carolina Panthers. With top prospects Caleb Williams and Drake Maye available, the Bears could trade Fields and reset their quarterback contract clock with a prospect of general manager Ryan Poles' choosing.

"I've got too much to focus on today to worry about tomorrow," Fields said of his future. "I've got to worry about this new game plan I've got, the play calls, and like I always say, we don't know if we're going to get it tomorrow. So there's no point in stressing about tomorrow if we don't know it's going to be here yet."

Almost two years ago, Eberflus arrived and started building a relationship with Fields. It's a relationship he hoped would be the foundation for the winning machine he and Poles want to build in Chicago. Eberflus knew that if he and Fields could be on the same page and grow together, the wins would come.

It's a relationship built on mutual respect and a similar mindset that prioritizes being present, blocking out the noise, and a "never stop chopping" attitude.

"Just about being yourself," Eberflus said about what he's learned through his relationship with Fields. "I think that’s growing, and getting better. That’s what I try to be about, and I think that’s what Justin tries to be about. And then if we just keep getting better and have our eyes focused on one day at a time and one moment at a time, we’re gonna get better. Just be consistent."

That mindset has paid off. Both coach and quarterback have gotten better as they have stacked days together. They've started to build something that those inside the locker room at Halas Hall believe in. The arrow is pointing up for the Bears, and the growing Fields-Eberflus relationship is at the heart of that success.

Poles and the Bears will have to decide if that relationship will continue to grow in 2024 or if the bedrock of this rebuild will undergo significant change this offseason.

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