A lot went down at Halas Hall on Wednesday. Like a season’s worth of headlines in a matter of hours. There was so much news, and it all came so quickly, that it was tough to keep track of everything that went down. Now that we’ve had some time to process everything– and the Bears have had a chance to respond to some of the news– here’s a timeline of the Wednesday that will be remembered in Bears lore for years to come. Times are approximate.
10:55 AM: JUSTIN FIELDS SAYS COACHING OVERLOAD PLAYING PART IN SLOW START
When asked why he’s thinking too much and not playing fast, Justin Fields initially pointed to coaching. Over the course of his press conference Fields shared more nuance, like admitting he needs to do a better job of not over-correcting based on the coaching he receives, or needs to stop trying to be perfect and just play football. But it was too late. Social media latched onto the word “coaching” and soon “Fields eviscerates Bears coaches” became the narrative.
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Now, it’s fair to critique Bears coaches for their gameplan decisions and some of Fields’ frustrations are legit. Coaches certainly share some blame for Fields’ struggles this year. But the characterization of the story got a little out of hand.
“I can't be more clear than this: No one in our entire building, none of our coaches see Justin as a finger pointer at all,” said GM Ryan Poles on Thursday. “That kid is always taking ownership of anything that has happened on the field. He takes it head on. He works, he grinds, he puts his head down, he works with his teammates, he works with his coaches to find solutions.”
11:10 AM: MATT EBERFLUS ANNOUNCES BRAXTON JONES GOING TO IR
The Bears head coach started his press conference with a surprising update that starting left tackle Braxton Jones will miss a minimum of four games with a neck injury. More concerning is that Eberflus said there is no timetable for Jones to return.
In the meantime the Bears will likely turn to Larry Borom to fill in at left tackle. Eberflus said backup guard Ja’Tyre Carter could be an option outside. He said the team has also discussed moving rookie Darnell Wright from right tackle to left tackle, although the preference is to leave him where he is so he can focus on one spot.
11:15 AM: MATT EBERFLUS HAS ‘NO UPDATE’ ON ALAN WILLIAMS
When asked about whether or not he anticipated Alan Williams returning at any point this season, Eberflus unsurprisingly said he didn’t have an update. The Bears are tight lipped when it comes to absences, whether they be due to personal reasons or injury. What was a little surprising is that Eberflus used the same “no update” line when asked if a) Williams was still the defensive coordinator for the Bears, and b) if Eberflus had even spoken to Williams.
Not something you expect to hear from an innocuous absence.
Equally unsurprising, social media began to bubble with rumors about why Williams had been missing at Halas Hall for nearly a week.
2:20 PM: JUSTIN FIELDS CALLS REPORTERS TO LOCKER TO CLARIFY COMMENTS
Fields got wind of the firestorm he started earlier in the day and tried to set the record straight.
“I’m not blaming anything on the coaches,” Fields said. “I’m never going to blame anything on the coaches. I’m never going to blame anything on my teammates. Whatever happens in the game, I’ll take all the blame.”
On Wednesday, Eberflus insisted communication is fine between the quarterback and the coaches. On Thursday, Poles and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy reiterated that.
“It’s an open book,” Getsy said. “That relationship, the partnership that Flus and Justin have is amazing. And to be honest with you Justin, myself and coach (Andrew) Janocko, it’s even better.”
3:15 PM: BEARS ANNOUNCE ALAN WILLIAMS HAS RESIGNED + ALAN WILLIAMS STATEMENT SHARED
Almost simultaneously, the Bears announced Williams resigned as defensive coordinator and a team spokesperson shared a statement from Williams. Per Williams’ statement, he was stepping away from football to focus on his health and his family. Once he addressed his health, Williams said he planned to return to coaching.
Social media armchair detectives were not satisfied. They looked for clues in the Bears’ brief announcement and Williams' statement that something else might be going on. Rumors became even more suggestive.
“We try to work in truth and I know there is a ton of misinformation out there,” Poles said on Thursday. “Yesterday, we talked about Halas Hall being raided. That's completely false. Don't even know where that came from.”
3:55 PM: BEARS CUT BACKUP QUARTERBACK NATHAN PETERMAN
After a long day filled with huge headlines, why not cut the backup quarterback on a Wednesday? At the time it seemed the move would either pave the way for Tyson Bagent to become QB2, or it would pave the way for the Bears to add an offensive lineman to help on the edges. In the end it turned out to be much ado about nothing. The Bears re-signed Peterman to the 53-man roster on Thursday. Were the two transactions related to Peterman’s contract? Did a deal for a lineman fall through? We don’t know. But it sure was an interesting cap to an interesting day.