LAKE FOREST — The Bears’ Bye Week is officially over.
Although the 12-10 win over the Vikings on Monday Night Football left a good feeling entering the Week 13 Bye, these final five games hold some serious implications for many members of the Bears organization.
At just four total wins this season and seven since Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus took over in 2022, jobs are on the line. It’s the business of the NFL and the Bears’ coach is well aware of how the league works. And with decades of experience in the NFL, pressure is something Eberflus has felt while coaching.
“Certainly you feel that during the course of my 32 years you feel it over the time,” Eberflus said. “And you just gotta put your best foot forward and just keep working and grinding and keep executing and getting the guys to focus and wire in. Being positive, also being real with the players, so they can improve. And the same way with your staff. Where we need to improve at and what we need to get better at. So that’s no different this year than any other year.”
Last season, Eberflus and Poles were actively rebuilding a roster from the last regime and only won three games, so it would’ve taken something disastrous to fire the coaching staff. Now another season into this current regime with a new president in Kevin Warren, there is no reason to assume the Bears will run things back.
Poles has backed up Eberflus openly during press conferences, but is that a reason why the second-year coach should feel safe about his job? Here is what Ebeflus had to say when he was about that on Monday.
“What you can focus on is leadership, and the first the rule of leadership is leading yourself,” Eberflus said. “Come to work every day, put the plans together — offense, defense, special teams — lead the football team, help the leadership council, lead the football team as well, because true leadership comes from within. I think that’s really what you focus on, and that’s put your best foot forward every single day.”
T.J. Edwards on rematch with Lions
Just 16 days ago, the Bears lost in a heartbreaker to the Lions at Ford Field after having a 12-point lead late in the fourth quarter.
T.J. Edwards and the rest of the Bears defense outplayed the Lions for a majority of the game. Jared Goff threw three interceptions, including one that was picked off by Edwards, but the game was won and lost at the end of the first half and the final four minutes of the game.
The Lions scored at the end of the first half on a 10-play, 75-yard drive in just 1:36. With 4:15 left in the fourth quarter, the Lions went on a 6-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in 1:16. Then on the next possession, Goff led the offense on an 11-play, 73-yard touchdown scoring drive in 2:04.
Detroit scored touchdowns quickly with its two-minute offense and Chicago didn’t have any answers. Here is what Edwards said can be done in practice to simulate those two-minute game-like situations.
“A lot of it is being comfortable with the calls,” Edwards said. “It’s hard to emulate, again, that type of environment when it’s must get a stop, things like that. But I think our coaches have done a great job of trying to put us in those situations and trying to give us at least a little sneak peak of what we could see. Our coaches work hard in game planning those things. They try to give us the toughest looks, but again, they got good coaches, too, so there are gonna be some things that you haven’t seen on the film and things like that. But that’s where our rules and what we’re doing is big time. Just making sure we’re all on the same page with those things is our biggest takeaway, honestly.”
Although Edwards wishes that first 31-26 loss to the Lions ended differently, he and his teammates will get another opportunity to take down their NFC North foe at Solider Field.
“As you know, these are very important games,” Edwards said. “December football is where it’s decided. You got to go in you got to play your best ball, which I think that’s where we feel we are at right now. We got to keep getting better in every facet of the game. So we’re excited to see em but we’re excited because it’s the next game, and we know these are important games for sure.”
Cole Kmet already in “playoff mode”
There are just five games remaining in the regular season.
The Bears currently sit at 4-8 and depending on which television broadcast you watch, Chicago may even be seen under the “In The Hunt” column.
With a hand full of games remaining on the schedule, Kmet is treating this final stretch like he is already in the postseason.
“Look, we finish these five out here,” Kmet said. “Obviously I’m treating it like we’re in playoff mode now. I think five very winnable games here to end the season. Who knows what can happen at 9-8? I’m not looking too big picture — you take it one week at a time. Look, there’s a lot of flux at the bottom of the NFC here, especially for that seven, six spot. You never know what can happen. You gotta take it one week at a time and we’ll see where it goes.”
If the Bears were able to close out their first matchup with the Lions and finish against the Denver Broncos, Chicago would in a better situation to be in the mix of playoff contention.
“I was talking about the margins being so thin,” Kmet said. “You look back at a couple games in the season. I can think of two that we really should have won. You win those, you’re just out of the playoffs — I think we’d be just out of the playoff mark at this point. We are where we’re at right now. That’s this league. But at the end of the day we’re still, you’re still kinda in it even though it’s been not a great start to start the season out here. You got five games to finish this thing off. And we’ll see where it lays, if we can get to 9-8 here.”
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