The Chicago Bears' 2023 season is now over. There has been some good, some bad, and some ugly. Through all of the ups and downs, the team did look much better than last season. On offense, after ranking number one in 2022, they continued their success by ranking second.
Defensively, the team had a near-miraculous improvement against the run. After ranking 31st against the run in 2022, they amazingly ranked number one this season. Additionally, after ranking dead last in rushing touchdowns allowed last season, they ranked second in 2023.
There are certainly some things the Bears could build on for 2024. Building a stronger roster will be easier to do this offseason than it was last offseason. There is a lot more talent on both sides of the ball this time around than there was last year.
The Bears also have the number one overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. It is the second year in a row that they have the top pick. That pick came as the result of General Manager Ryan Poles' magical trade of the top pick in this year's draft to the Carolina Panthers. In addition to acquiring DJ Moore and some draft picks, the Bears also received the Panthers' first round pick this year. That pick resulted in being the number one pick.
Additionally, the Bears will have the ninth pick. They will also have one of the highest salary cap money available to spend. It is a recipe for success. This offseason could be a franchise-changing one.
The Chicago Bears are in a great position to take huge strides next season. Before that, however, there is the question of what to do with head coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
While the Bears are in prime position to make huge improvements this offseason, they face a big question with who will lead the team in 2024. The coaching in 2023 was not the finest we've seen.
In 2023, the Bears lost three games as a result of late-game collapses. With their final record at 7-10, if they finished those three games then the game on Sunday would have been for the NFC title. That would have been an incredible turnaround considering they had just three wins in 2022.
However, is that a good thing or bad for Eberflus and company? While it is exemplary to have the team playing hard and getting to the cusp of being a contender, the fact is that in those games the play-calling on both offense and defense played a part in the losses.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy called a very conservative game plans all season long. He became the butt of jokes around the league for calling way too many screens. In their game on the road against the Minnesota Vikings he called 16 screens and 22 throws of five yards or less. He called just four passes of 10+ yards.
That is not a recipe for success. To illustrate that, the Bears ranked 27th in passing yards and 23rd in passing touchdowns.
There is a question of whether Justin Fields is the man to lead this offense. If Getsy is still in charge then the answer is no. Getsy wants a quarterback who stays in the pocket. He won't make an adjustment for Fields' skillset. He kept insisting on keeping him in the pocket despite Fields having the running ability of Lamar Jackson.
Good coaches adjust to their players' abilities, not the other way around. Speaking of Jackson, when he was a rookie in 2018, he started the season as the backup. During the Baltimore Ravens' bye week, head coach John Harbaugh decided to go from Joe Flacco to Jackson. He revamped the offense to tailor Jackson's abilities.
What was the result? The Ravens were 4-5 at the bye. Jackson led the offense and the team went 6-1 and won the AFC North.
That's not to say that the same could happen with Fields. However, how do we know what Fields can do if all he is asked to do is hand the ball off or throw screens? The Bears need to go all-in or all-out on Fields. They cannot go all-in if they don't have him show off his skills.
Eberflus has done a great job with the defense. In the first four weeks, this was a Swiss cheese defense. After he took over, he had them playing with more discipline. Having Montez Sweat come in at the trade deadline and transform the pass rush also helped.
However, Eberflus had his own deficiencies. He insisted on platooning his defensive players in the name of rest. With that, though, his best players got caught on the sideline while the opponent made huge moves. That is what happened against the Detroit Lions.
The Lions were marching down the field late in the game. They were running their two-minute, no-huddle offense. That kept the Bears from substituting. That meant that while the Lions went down the field on their way to a game-winning drive, Sweat and Tremaine Edmunds were on the sideline watching.
Then there was what happened on Sunday. Eberflus understandably did not want Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love to make big plays downfield. As a result, he had his secondary play deep, giving the Packers receivers big cushions. Love took the underneath routes and his receivers did the rest to have a lot of yards after the catch.
Eberflus did not make the adjustment. The defensive backs had to come far to make the tackle. The receivers were able to take advantage of that and still make big plays. Love finished the game 27/32 for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Poles has a lot of decisions to make. He has the assets to have a huge offseason and transform the roster. He has to decide, however, if Eberflus and Getsy are the ones who can lead the team on the field. After what we saw this season, it would be mind-blowing to find out that he thinks they are.