Bears News: Matt Eberflus on Kmet extension, offensive growth in the offseason

Bears News: Matt Eberflus on Kmet extension, offensive growth in the offseason


by - Senior Editor -

CHICAGO - It’s officially the beginning of training camp, and head coach Matt Eberflus has a lot of goals for the Bears. Specifically, they are focusing on skill development and schemes across all of the positions.

“This training camp, for us, is all about skill development,” Eberflus said. “It’s about, you know, strengthening the individual man, the unit, the positions … and then our football team and then really develop it on the schemes. We were improving on the process in the spring of developing a big part of our schemes. That’s important for us to continue to do that and really push the guys to push the envelope to get better.”

Wednesday, July 26 was the first day, and it started out promising for the Bears. Usually, on the first day, there will be a number of mistakes. However, that is not something Eberflus witnessed this time.

“I thought the operation on offense was good for the first day. Typically, you have a lot of false starts, a lot of guys not lined up correctly, missed motions, and all those types of things,” Eberflus explained. “We did not see that today, so the operation in terms of the alignment assignment and your technique look pretty good for the first day.”

Eberflus has a lot of high hopes for the season, especially because of the elite players that the Bears have. While he would not name them all, Eberflus specifically mentioned quarterback Justin Fields and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds as leaders and elite members of the team.

“Obviously, Justin Fields is an elite competitor. He competes at the highest level,” Eberflus explained. “Tremaine Edmunds is an elite competitor and this is just a couple guys I’ll name, but we have several guys that we’ve added, like I said, through the past couple drafts, the classes and the free agency we just had that are in that mode that guys will look to to model after.”

Edmunds has been a great addition to the team. Back with the Buffalo Bills, the two-time Pro-Bowler recorded 32 tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hits in his five seasons there. Further, he has played in eight playoffs games, giving him more postseason experience than the Bears organization has had in over 10 years.

“(Edmunds) and TJ (Edwards) do a really good job of sitting together in the meetings, getting on the field,” Eberflus stated. “They bring a presence in there in the middle of your defense, which I think is very important to have that strength in the middle. So, we’re excited to have them.”

Another key player on the Bears in tight end Cole Kmet, which is why Chicago decided to give him a four-year, $50 million contract extension. He was the Bears’s leading receiver last season with 544 receiving yards. It was the first time since 1982 that a tight end led the Bears in receiving yards when Emery Moorehead was in his first season playing as a tight end after starting his career as a wide receiver.

“(Kmet)’s a pro, you know, and he’s a guy that can be trusted, you know. He’s a fantastic teammate with him just leading by example,” Eberflus explained. “We talk about modeling and behavior you want to see, talk about his practice habits, how he is in meetings, how he works with other players, how he works with the coaches, how he leads in times of adversity. He does all those things and I like that’s what makes him a good leader.”

Kmet’s extension marks an important step for the Bears. First, it is the first contract extension that general manager Ryan Poles has negotiated since becoming the general manager last year. Second, this is the first player the Bears have drafted to get signed to a contract extension with Chicago since Eddie Jackson, part of the 2017 Draft Class, received a contract extension. Signing home-grown players to contract extensions is something that Eberflus believes is very important for the Bears in building for the future.

“You get home-grown players, that means you drafted the right guy, you developed the right guy and he is the right guy and (his) experience with the club and his experiences in football are really good and you want to keep him and you like to do as much as you can,” Eberflus said.

Speaking of Eddie Jackson, his season was cut short due to a lisfranc injury in his left foot. However, according to Eberflus, Jackson has been working hard to get back on the football field and that work is paying off.

“Eddie’s been great since the beginning, you know. Everything that I’ve asked him since the first meeting we’ve had, I just told him to work his tail off and dive into it and he did and he had a fabulous start of the year last year and then the injury happened and he shows what kind of guy he is with his rehab, him being upbeat and positive all the way through that and guys see that,” Eberflus explained. “And we just had a vote for the leadership council, so I just had that and just named the guys after practice and he was one of the top vote-getters … He can handle adversity. He can always be positive and he’s a darn good football player.”

Wide receiver Chase Claypool was also struggling with injury. But, he has been taken off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and is back practicing with the team. Eberflus is confident he will be ready for the upcoming season.

“I think he’s in a good spot. I have a lot of conversations with (Claypool) as we all do with all our players and he feels like he’s in a good spot,” Eberflus said. “I think he’s got a lot of confidence, you know, being the second year into it or going into the second part of it.”

Receiver Velus Jones Jr has also been working hard to improve in the offseason. This home-grown talent struggled last year in his rookie season. While he was originally a returner for the Bears, after struggling and having some fumbles, a total of three last season, he was not the returner for the remainder of the season. However, Eberflus believes he has improved enough in the offseason to potentially take that role, as well as being used in other fashions on the offense.

“I think he’s doing a really good job. First thing that stands out to me is returns, you know, the punt returns and kick returns. He’s really been consistent with that and much better. He’s really worked his tail off with that,” Eberflus stated. “The ability to utilize him as a guy back there with the jet sweeps and the, you know, gadget plays and also just being a receiver, you know. I think he’s got the comfort level now second year through. You can see that his function in terms of being able to (be) confident, know what he’s doing and how to do it is what’s starting to show.”

Chicago will have their first padded practice on Wednesday August 2nd and then will play their first preseason game on Saturday August 12 (12 p.m.) against the Tennessee Titans.

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