Former NFL GM Makes Baffling Claim About Bears’ Matt Eberflus

Lombardi Eberflus Baffling

Getty Head coach Matt Eberflus of the Chicago Bears looks on during minicamp at Halas Hall on June 13, 2023 in Lake Forest, Illinois.

The Chicago Bears have naturally set higher expectations for themselves in 2023 after finishing dead last in the NFL last season, but it would appear that at least one former general manager is setting the bar low for what they can achieve.

During July 7’s episode of The Pat McAfee Show, former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi was asked to give his prediction for the Bears in the upcoming season and made a baffling claim about head coach Matt Eberflus, saying he believes the second-year head coach should consider a four-win improvement to be “tremendous progress.”

“I think if Matt Eberflus is honest and he can win seven games this year from three [in 2022], he’s really showing tremendous progress,” Lombardi said. “My concern about the Bears are that when you raise these expectations that they’re going to go from three wins to 10 wins, they’re not quite equipped for that yet. I know their GM has been sleeping in the office and all that, but [there isn’t] like one thing you can do. You’re going to have to build this thing over time, it takes time. It’s not going to happen instantaneously.”

Now, some of what Lombardi is saying rings true. Most realistic Bears fans understand that the franchise isn’t going to go from the worst record in football to contending for a Super Bowl title in 2023, largely because general manager Ryan Poles has been upfront about how his rebuilding plans are going to take multiple years to come fruition.

Calling a four-win improvement “tremendous progress” is a bit ridiculous, though, even coming from a notorious Bears hater like Lombardi.

Bears Spent Offseason Injecting Roster With Fresh Talent

The Bears took an aggressive approach to their rebuild in 2022. They pushed several of their rookies — Braxton Jones, Jack Sanborn and Kyler Gordon — into meaningful roles and stripped their roster of some of its biggest (and most expensive) names, electing to trade away veterans such as Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn.

Frankly, nobody should be that surprised that the Bears finished 3-14, as awful as it is.

The Bears, however, have now entered the second stage of their rebuild where they have begun to acquire star power that fits their schemes and load up on young talent who can provide a sturdy foundation for their roster in the years to come.

Since March, the Bears have traded for veteran wide receiver D.J. Moore, signed new starters in Tremaine Edmunds, Nate Davis, T.J. Edwards and DeMarcus Walker and drafted some promising pieces who could quickly become contributors, such as Darnell Wright, Tyrique Stevenson, Gervon Dexter Sr. Zacch Pickens and Roschon Johnson. They also have wide receiver Chase Claypool angling to look like a new addition in 2023, now that he has gotten a full offseason to heal his body and learn the playbook.

Now, there are still spots where the Bears could stand to add better talent. For instance, they could use an accomplished pass rusher for their defensive end room to ensure they don’t finish with a league-worst number of sacks (20) again in 2023. If quarterback Justin Fields can make the necessary strides as a passer and validate the trust that Chicago’s front office has placed in him, though, the Bears have a good chance to be one of the NFL’s biggest surprises during the 2023 season.

Could NFC North Uncertainly Help Bears Make Playoffs?

At this point in the rebuild, the Bears are highly unlikely to make a legitimate push to be the NFC’s representative in the Super Bowl for the upcoming year. Earning a playoff berth, though? Now that is something Chicago has a chance to do in 2023.

The other teams in the NFC North are in interesting places heading into the new year. The Green Bay Packers have moved on from Aaron Rodgers and are placing their faith in Jordan Love as their new starter, but they simply won’t know how good he can be until he starts playing meaningful regular-season football. If Love struggles — or their defense disappoints again — the Packers could sink to the depths of the division.

Then there’s the Minnesota Vikings. They have some ultra-talented players on their roster, the highlight of which is wide receiver Justin Jefferson, and are viewed by some as the favorites to win the division again in 2023, but it will come down to whether Kirk Cousins can win consistently enough for them in big moments. If he cannot, the Vikings will be in a tough spot moving forward with no heir apparent for Cousins at quarterback.

The Detroit Lions might be the Bears’ biggest threat to the division’s automatic playoff berth, though. They have been deep into a rebuild for a few years now and appear to have the right mix of veteran and rookie talent now to make a legitimate run for the NFC North title. If Jared Goff can build off of his promising success in 2022 and solidify himself as their franchise starter, the Lions could become a problem for the division, but it could just as easily go the opposite way if he backslides to his L.A. days.

The point being, the Bears have a less complicated path to winning the division with Aaron Rodgers no longer asserting his dominance over them. It would take quite a few things going right for them to win the division, but it isn’t an unreasonable goal.