The 2023 season has been very frustrating and bizarre for the Chicago Bears. With a variety of ways of losing games to off-the-field misconduct costing assistant coaches their jobs, the team has gone through the gauntlet.
During head coach Matt Eberflus' press conference on Wednesday, things got even more bizarre. The reporters in the press conference and millions of fans around the country waited to find out who would start the Thursday night game against the Carolina Panthers.
Starter Justin Fields has missed the last three games with a dislocated thumb on his throwing hand. Rookie Tyson Bagent stepped in for him and, after winning his first career start, lost his next two.
In his Wednesday press conference ahead of Thursday night's game, Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus gave a bizarre update on Fields' health.
After missing three weeks, some people speculated that Fields might be ready to start this week's game. Then Eberflus stepped up to the podium and proceeded to confuse people. He both said that Fields would not play and that he might play. When asked about his condition, he was evasive and was as clear as mud in his explanation. He actually said that Fields was "doubtful" and "out."
When he was evasive and unclear on the situation, Eberflus twisted his words even more. After saying Fields was out, he went on to say there was a chance he would play. He even went so far as to say that Fields would go through pre-game drills to see if he was ready. That posed a question: ready for what?
"Right now he's listed as doubtful. We'll see where it goes. The chances are, doubtful. (It's) 51% that he's in or out. We'll see where it is. We've got a little time left. But again, we'll declare him out when he's out. Right now, we're still listing him as doubtful."
Reporters asked Eberflus to clarify Fields' condition. He said that Fields felt good and did not have any setbacks. However, he was still not medically cleared. When asked what kept the doctors from clearing him, Eberflus would only say he was getting better.
Are the Bears finished with Fields?
Hearing the press conference, it seems an awful lot like the Chicago Bears are through with the Justin Fields experiment. There is no explanation as to why he isn't playing yet. When he first got injured, it seemed like he would be okay and that he wouldn't need to go on injured reserve. Now he will miss his fourth game (or will he?).
If the Bears just put him on injured reserve to begin with there would be no problem. He'd be out and he would be eligible to come off the list after Thursday's game. Instead, the team had to deal with "Will he play, or won't he play" questions for four weeks.
To give you an idea of how convoluted this coaching staff is and how they might be done with Fields, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy explained how the gameplan would differ between Fields
"I don’t think from everybody else’s perspective in that room other than the two quarterbacks, it’s not going to feel like it’s a different gameplan by any means if we go one direction or the other."
How in the world would the game plan not differ between one quarterback or the other? If Getsy and Eberflus cannot see that the two quarterbacks are as different as night and day then perhaps they should not be coaching. If the Bears front office feels that Getsy and Eberflus are the coaches for this team then perhaps Fields is better off on another team.
Don't be surprised if Eberflus announces suddenly that Fields had a setback and that now they have to place him on injured reserve. That would necessitate him missing four more games. Then, with the Bears' season all but over, they will decide to shut him down for the rest of the season. That would be a fitting end to Fields' time in Chicago getting ruined.