Bears News: Eberflus on injured Justin Jefferson, looking at hiring defensive help

Bears News: Eberflus on injured Justin Jefferson, looking at hiring defensive help

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - The Sunday games helped to set the stage for what is on the line for Chicago going into their next game on Sunday, October 15, against the Minnesota Vikings (Noon / FOX). Both teams are sitting at 1-4, meaning this game will be a battle for who will jump ahead to third in the division and who will be last.

Injuries are probably the biggest story going into this game. With the great debate in sports about whether turf leads to more injuries, the turf certainly seemed to lead to some non-contact injuries in the Vikings last game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Minnesota’s elite receiver Justin Jefferson, who was the 2022 Offensive Player of the Year, is questionable going into this game with a hamstring injury.

This injury designation is not changing how head coach Matt Eberflus is preparing for this matchup.

“You have to prepare as if (Justin Jefferson) is going to play,” Eberflus said. “You always got to be ready for that because, obviously, (he’s) one of the most dynamic receivers in the league. So you always got to prepare for that.”

On Tuesday morning, Jefferson has been ruled out of the game and will be placed on IR.

For the Bears, they have been struggling with injuries in the secondary and lost a few running backs in Thursday night’s win versus the Washington Commanders. Luckily, cornerback Kyler Gordon has been designated to return from injured reserve (IR). But, the Bears will be down their top running back, Khalil Herbert, while backup Roschon Johnson is in concussion protocol. Given these injuries, Chicago will be looking for D’Onta Foreman, who had the best season of his career last year with the Carolina Panthers, to step up into the starting role.

Eberflus is confident he will be able to do that.

“He’s a really good downhill runner,” Eberflus said. “He’s a physical player and just that, just what you saw last year on tape and we just want to see that during practice and that during the games and being consistent.”

Despite the running back situation, the Bears seem to be doing well on offense. After starting the first three games of the season with only three touchdown passes, quarterback Justin Fields now has 11 touchdown passes, which is tied for second in the NFL. Receiver DJ Moore had the best game of his career in the Commanders game. Still, the Bears have given up the third-most sacks out of any team in the league, allowing at least three sacks a game.

Nonetheless, Eberflus is confident in Fields and the team overall, given their recent improvements.

“When you look at the growth that he’s had over the year, this year, it’s been really good and the steps he’s taken the past couple of weeks has been where we all want it to go, and he’s done that,” Fields said. “He just got to keep building upon that, just to be the consistent performer that he is. He’s always going to work hard in practice. He’s always going to work his tail off to get that done.”

Defensively, things still need to get consistently better. The victory against Washington was an unusual display of pressure by the Bears who had five sacks in that game. In the four weeks prior, they only had two sacks. The injuries in the secondary certainly have not helped better but with players like Gordon coming back, things are looking up.

“Pressure is paramount, and we’re going to have to continue to do that either with four, five or six guys and I think that’s important to be able to do that,” Eberflus said. “With our secondary coming back, we’ll be able to be more flexible with that in terms of pressure and what types of pressure we have.”

Eberflus is currently taking on the role of head coach and defensive coordinator. It sounds like he is looking for that to change. According to Eberflus, he is looking for a “senior defensive analyst” to help scout teams in the upcoming games for Chicago, another move that should help the team to improve throughout the course of the season and bring more stability back to the defensive coaching staff.

“Relative to the position on defense that we’re looking at right now and that position really for me is more of an analyst, more of a senior defensive analyst that would do advanced work for us for the upcoming opponent but would give us certainly ideas of things, how to attack that upcoming opponent and just to get another set of eyes for advancing for us in that,” Eberflus said. “I don’t have names. I don’t have a timetable for that right now at this time, but that will be coming shortly and we’re looking forward to adding that, if we choose to do that.”

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