The Chicago Bears have five games remaining in the 2023 regular season, but the team’s eyes are already on the future.
Josina Anderson of CBS Sports confirmed as much on Tuesday, December 5, when she reported that the Bears will take a hard look at Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as a potential replacement for head coach Matt Eberflus.
“I’m told the Chicago #Bears are expected to have interest in #Commanders assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, among others, with general knowledge that current HC Matt Eberflus is under evaluation with the team at 4-8, per source,” Anderson posted to X.
Eric Bieniemy Has Ties to Bears GM Ryan Poles, Former Head Coach Matt Nagy
Bieniemy represents both a break from the Bears’ current direction at the top of the organization and a reversion to a path the franchise tread rather recently.
Ryan Poles came into Chicago as the general manager ahead of the 2022 campaign after several years as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ front office. Fifteen days prior to Poles’ hiring, the Bears fired head coach Matt Nagy following four years at the helm.
Nagy came to Chicago by way of Kansas City, where he had served as the offensive coordinator. Upon Nagy’s exit, Bieniemy elevated into the position of Chiefs OC — a job he held until departing for Washington ahead of this season for more money and the extra title of assistant head coach. After a year working under Bieniemy in 2022, Nagy is back in the OC job under Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
An offensive mind, Nagy led the Bears to a 34-31 record across four seasons and was part of the group responsible for drafting quarterback Justin Fields No. 11 overall in 2021. Poles went a different way with Eberflus, who spent four seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts before taking the big job in Chicago.
Poles and Bieniemy spent several years together in Kansas City, where the OC won two Super Bowl rings. Bieniemy is one of the most respected offensive minds in the NFL due to his success with the Chiefs and makes sense as a hire whether the Bears try to salvage Fields as the franchise quarterback or use the Carolina Panthers‘ pick, which they acquired in trade last spring, to select an elite QB prospect in 2024.
Eric Bieniemy Has Better Shot to Land With Bears Than Jim Harbaugh
Another splashy name floating around the Bears potential head coaching opening is that of Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh has a history in Chicago, the team that drafted him in 1987 and which he led to a 35-30 record as the QB across seven seasons between 1987-93. He may be looking to jump back to the NFL following a sign-stealing scandal at Michigan this year and should be in high demand on the heels of three consecutive berths in the College Football Playoff.
However, Harbaugh also has a history with new Bears president and CEO Kevin Warren from their time together in the Big 10 Conference, which Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report said Tuesday will be too big of an obstacle to overcome.
The reason I don’t see Harbaugh going to Chicago … is because Kevin Warren was the president of the Big 10 when Harbaugh was getting essentially his start at Michigan. They do not have a good relationship. It could be said they have a terrible relationship. Both guys — pretty critical of one another.
Considering that Kevin Warren is currently the president of the Bears, that’s a fractured relationship that, to me, has no ability to be repaired. I really don’t see a scenario where Harbaugh and the Bears are able to find common ground and have him coach that team. I just don’t see it. In fact, it would stun me if that happened.
Matt Eberflus Says He’s Focused on Bears Job, Not Threat of Losing It
As for Eberflus, he continues to try and coach the team as rumors of bigger names in line for his job swirl around the franchise more or less daily.
Eberflus spoke with media members on Monday, during which time a reporter asked him about his job security and whether he felt “safe” due to the public support Poles has expressed for the head coach throughout the 2023 campaign.
“All you can focus on is leadership,” Eberflus responded. “The first rule of leadership is leading yourself. Come to work every day, put the plans together — offense, defense, special teams. Lead the football team. Help the leadership council lead the football team as well because true leadership comes from within. And I think that’s really what you focus on. Put your best foot forward every single day.”
Dianna Russini of The Athletic reported Saturday that Eberflus will retain his job through the end of the regular season, at which point Warren, Poles and others will evaluate his employment moving forward.