Matt Eberflus’ urgent search for a new offensive coordinator is the Chicago Bears’ top priority: ‘Our phones have been blowing up’

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Help wanted: Offensive visionary needed urgently at Halas Hall.

This is a chance for an ambitious coach to mold an up-and-coming offense around their preferred playing style or, perhaps, an opportunity to create an offensive style around the group’s personnel. Experience is a plus but not required. The position will require long hours, significant patience and an ability to collaborate. Among the most important traits needed will be teaching ability, creativity and play-calling prowess.

That’s essentially the ad the Chicago Bears sent to the football world Wednesday, venturing into an opportunity-filled offseason by announcing several major changes to their coaching staff — most notably the firing of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy — while also cementing one major non-change with the retention of Matt Eberflus as head coach.

The latter decision, which was confirmed after two days of meetings and methodical deliberation inside team headquarters, left a large segment of the Bears fan base disoriented and disappointed. Those who were envisioning a total restart with the team’s head coach-coordinator-quarterback trio now must accept Eberflus as the chief in charge of elevating the Bears offense to a new level.

And while Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles must eventually crystallize their quarterback plans, their first order of business will be to hire a new offensive coordinator, a replacement for Getsy, a leader who can galvanize that entire unit, players and coaches alike.

“You want to have somebody who’s a great teacher,” Eberflus said Wednesday. “I think that’s important because he has to coach the coaches to coach their position. That’s the No. 1 trait of any great coach.

“You also have to be able to have the innovation (skill) to really look at the players you have and be able to help enhance and put those guys in positions to succeed.”

Both Poles and Eberflus expressed supreme confidence in their ability to attract top talent for the opening.

“Our phones have been blowing up with people trying to contact us,” Eberflus said. “So, again, we’ll work through that process as we go.”

Still, on the surface, there are dynamics attached to the offensive coordinator opening that leave some around the league wondering if the Bears’ candidate pool might be somewhat restricted. For starters, while the team may opt to use the No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL draft to select the quarterback prospect it deems as the cream of this spring’s crop, the Bears also haven’t ruled out the possibility of sticking with incumbent starter Justin Fields for next season.

Won’t that, perhaps, create an unnecessary level of ambiguity as the current Bears leaders try to unite on a vision with a new offensive mastermind?

“Any good coach knows how to adjust and adapt to the quarterback,” Eberflus said.

Echoed Poles: “The ability to be adaptable to the talent you have is critical.”

But what about the risks in possibly asking Fields to learn a third system under a third play-caller in his fourth NFL season?

“Justin’s very smart, very intelligent,” Eberflus said. “He’s able to adapt and adjust. So I don’t see that being a problem at all.”

Beyond that, some prospective candidates may have reservations about coming to work at Halas Hall due to long-term job security fears, anxiety that stems from an outside curiosity on whether Eberflus himself could be on thin ice if next season falls short of expectations for the Bears.

Poles, though, said he didn’t believe that would be a deterrent to interested candidates for either open coordinator position.

“I think they’re going look at our roster and see there are a lot of young, talented players that they’ll really want to work with,” he said. “That’s going to elevate that platform and elevate our team to be a championship-caliber team. And when you win championships, there are a lot of really cool things that happen with everybody. So I think (candidates) are going to see this as a good opportunity.”

The Bears, of course, won’t be the only team seeking to hire new coordinators. They will have competition during a frenzied hiring process this month. As of Wednesday night, seven NFL teams had begun their respective searches for new head coaches, which by extension makes those organizations alternative landing spots for coordinator candidates, too.

Eberflus stated Wednesday that he was already working off a shortlist of preferred targets for the offensive coordinator opening. He emphasized that he would be open-minded when probing applicants about their preferred offensive system.

But he will also have to do his part to sell candidates on the attractiveness of this opportunity, which many around the league believe would be far more appealing if the Bears were committed to starting over at quarterback rather than attempting yet another audition season for Fields.

It will become clearer in the days ahead who is on the Bears’ radar. So as speculative candidate lists fly around with names like Kellen Moore, Greg Roman, Darrell Bevell, Brian Callahan, Kevin Patullo and Frank Reich as possibilities, Eberflus and Poles will work to dial in on a coach who fits their established culture and vision.

The Bears finished this past season ranked 20th in total offense, 27th in passing yardage and 18th in scoring. On the plus side, they had the league’s second-ranked rushing offense while also finishing in the top 13 in third down conversion rate and red zone efficiency.

But Getsy’s inability to unlock something greater within the offense and specifically from Fields led to his Wednesday morning dismissal. Also fired: quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko, receivers coach Tyke Tolbert, interim running backs coach Omar Young and assistant tight ends coach Tim Zetts.

Remaining on the offensive staff: line coach Chris Morgan and his assistant Luke Steckel; tight ends coach Jim Dray; and quality control coach Zach Cable.

Asked specifically about Getsy’s shortcomings in overseeing the offense, Eberflus nodded.

“The growth and the development of the offense needed to be better than what it was,” he said. “To me, you look at the passing game (struggles) and certainly that’s one aspect of it. We decided to move on. Again, that was my decision.”

Eberflus’ next big decision — with guidance and direction from Poles — will be finding a new coordinator to help the entire offense level up. That decision will prove significant toward resetting the team’s direction.


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