Bears News: Poles explains decision to keep Eberflus, talks about Fields' future
Daniel Bartel - USA Today Sports

Bears News: Poles explains decision to keep Eberflus, talks about Fields' future

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - General manager Ryan Poles spoke to the media in conjunction with head coach Matt Eberflus to discuss some of the plans going into the offseason for Chicago. That first started with retaining Eberflus and getting rid of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy as well as some of the other offensive coaches.

Near the beginning of the season, it was tumultuous in Chicago first with the highly unusual circumstances surrounding defensive coordinator Alan Williams’ resignation, then with the running backs coach being let go and a number of other things in between. Throughout that time, Poles said veteran tight end Mercedes Lewis was a strong leader in the locker room.

“I would just like to single out Mercedes Lewis. That’s a special human being and I know he’s played a lot in this league, but was a really key addition to our team and our locker room,” Poles said. “The leadership through some of the hard times and things that he’s said to pull guys together was outstanding and I’m really, really thankful for him.”

While the trade deadline was highly beneficial for Chicago in acquiring edge rusher Montez Sweat, there was a little concern over whether Pro-Bowl cornerback Jaylon Johnson would get traded. That did not happen at the time although there is still not a deal in place for him. But Poles did say that he will not be going “anywhere and we’ll work through to get something done.” This seems like a positive sign for Chicago fans that their talented corner will be back next season.

One key to building any program is to draft well. Many rookies for the Bears were influential in the outcome of this season. First-rounder right tackle Darnell Wright was one key player as he played every offensive snap for Chicago this season. While he had some rookie moments, he did grow throughout the season and it looks promising for him to make a jump in his second season.

“Darnell did an outstanding job. He continues to work on his technique. I think once he closes that gap, the technique gap, and the consistency of using the right technique versus the right players, there’s a roll of the dice that you got to build out in teams of the pass rushers you go against because they all have different stuff. So, once he starts putting that together, you’re going to see a really good player,” Poles said. “He’s out there right now as a rookie, he was out there just using his natural ability. In a lot of games, that was good enough but there were some games and some reps where it wasn’t good enough and he’s got to continue to get better and I know he’s going to put the time in. But, he’s made of the right stuff. He’s tough, he’s strong. All of those core pieces are going to allow him to build off that.”

Poles was also asked a number of questions regarding why he chose to retain Eberflus despite only having 10 wins in his first two seasons and currently having the third-worst win percentage in franchise history. When asked about contacting Michigan head coach and former Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh about his interest in the head coach job, Poles clearly stated that he did not do that because Eberflus is their coach.

Elaborating further, he explained that his leadership, particularly during the hard times, was paramount in his decision to retain Eberflus.

“Coach Flus, his leadership through hard times. We had some adversity earlier in the season, the middle of the season. His ability to stand strong and keep the team together was incredible,” Poles said. “His ability to adapt and adjust as we went along. He had sudden change in terms of his role and I thought we benefited from that. I felt we got better from that point and I’m really happy for him.”

Going into the offseason, the Bears once again have a lot of cap space and the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. This offers Poles a lot of flexibility with the direction of the team and brings about a lot of questions about the future of quarterback Justin Fields with the Chicago Bears. Poles say a decision has not been made as they are keeping their options open.

However, he acknowledged that Fields did improve this season and any quarterback coming to Chicago must possess certain qualities, some of which a potential draft prospect may not have.

“I do think Justin got better. I do think he can lead this team. However, at the same time there’s a unique situation where I have to look, and our staff has to look at everything and that’s exactly what we’re going to do and that’s the same with free agency. We’re going to look at our free agents, get with my personnel staff, do evaluations and again make the best decision we can for this organization to take the next step. But, I’m really proud of where we are and where we’re going,” Poles said. “Especially to be a quarterback in this city, you got to have it right. You got to have toughness to you. You got to have mental toughness, you got to be able to block things out. So, really I got to find out about the human beings.”

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