LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Whenever a team is playing poorly, the blame often falls at the feet of the leader.
That is the head coach, and with the Bears that’s Matt Eberflus, who is feeling the heat after four mostly forgettable games to start the 2023 season.
Outside of 2 1/2 quarters against the Broncos last Sunday, the team has yet to show much progress despite a number of offseason additions. The Bears are in danger of their first 0-5 start to a season since 1997 as they travel to Landover, Maryland to face the Commanders on Thursday night.
There are some who are wondering if the Bears would take what would be a drastic step in their franchise’s history – fire a coach before the end of a season. That’s how heavy the criticism has been so early in a 2023 season where there were, at the very least, expectations for modest improvement.
So does Ebeflus feel the pressure after the poor start?
“I’ve been doing this 32 years, so I understand the business, but I understand to do it right, you’ve got to focus on your job, and you’ve got to focus right here, right now,” said the head coach when he was asked if he was aware of the outside chatter about his job security. “You can think about a lot of different things that’s going to do nobody good, and you focus on your job, where your feet are right now.
“My sole focus is on Washington.”
A fact many Bears fans have become familiar with is the fact that the team has never fired a head coach in the middle of the season. The only time they had a head coaching switch midseason was in 1942 when George Halas went to the United States Navy to serve in World War II.
Hunk Anderson and Luke Johnsos were co-head coaches the rest of that season and in 1943, 1944, and 1945 before Halas returned.
Whether the Bears go back on that tradition under the leadership of a new team president Kevin Warren is still unknown, but there is no denying how bad the start has been. Along with seeing the franchise’s record losing streak extend to 14 games, the team lost its first three games by double digits and then blew a 21-point lead in a loss to Denver.
Off the field, Eberflus has dealt with the abrupt resignation of defensive coordinator Alan Williams and the drama around wide receiver Chase Claypool, who was told to stay away from the team this week.
In the midst of the bad start, and some rumblings about his job, has Eberflus received assurances from management that they’ve buying into this current regime?
“I feel the support. I haven’t talked to anybody or any of those things. I feel the support,” said Eberflus in response to that question on Wednesday. “We’re just focused on Washington.”