Bears News: Matt Eberflus on team continuity, rising rookies on defense

Bears News: Matt Eberflus on team continuity, rising rookies on defense

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - With the NFC playoff picture as tight as it is, there is still a decent chance for the Bears to potentially make the playoffs. To realistically stay in the playoff picture, they first must make it past the Cleveland Browns (Noon / FOX). With wide receiver DJ Moore and safety Jaquan Brisker “trending in the right direction” to play, Chicago seems like they are in a position to potentially win their third game in a row.

However, during the week, it was announced that defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was going on injured reserve (IR) for the remainder of the season. He finished the year with four sacks and seven quarterback hits.

Despite this loss, rookies Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens have been making strides as the season has gone on.

“Both guys inside are really starting to come on. You can really feel their take-off, their get-off the pad level, the length at which they play and then obviously the hits on the quarterback, and those are all starting to pick up,” head coach Matt Eberflus said. “Again, those are first-year players that we brought on and again, they’ll be better next year, and it’s important for those guys to get more reps, get more experience, really learn from the veterans.”

Even with all of the injuries Chicago had prior to the beginning of the season and in the first few weeks, the Bears are relatively injury-free, with the exception of Ngakoue, compared to most teams at this point and time. That is part of why the Bears will be facing Joe Flacco this Sunday, as the Browns have been struggling with their quarterback situation for most of the season.

Eberflus said that with players finally being around each other for a longer period of time, some continuity has started to develop.

“On the offensive line, we finally have continuity there and also on the defensive line too and really throughout the whole football team,” Eberflus said.

Going into this game, the defense will be essential to contain Flacco and the Browns offense who put up 31 points last week. For Chicago, they are still trying to develop consistent offensive continuity. While quarterback Justin Fields has developed a strong chemistry with Moore, he has not been able to do that with Darnell Mooney this season. Mooney led the Bears in receiving back in 2021 with over 1,000 yards.

Yet, he has not even reached 400 yards this season.

“We’ve always tried to get him going, and we’re going to. It was seven targets last week. We’re just going to continue to target, continue to get him involved (in) various ways in the offense,” Eberflus said. “Obviously, love his explosiveness, his ability to get down the field, his run after the catch. He’s exhibited that many times.”

In the event Moore is not able to play, Mooney is going to need to step back into the No. 1 receiver role he was previously in. Another key player will be tight end Cole Kmet. Kmet has been getting more targets from Fields, and it has been paying off as his catch percentage is at 82.4 percent and his yards per game is at 42.2, both of which are career highs. Kmet stated a few weeks ago that he is in “playoff mode,” and that is a mentality the Bears will need to continue during this game and for the rest of the season if they prevail against Cleveland.

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