With the game between the Chicago Bears and our Minnesota Vikings slated for Monday night, we waited a little bit longer this week to do our weekly exchange of questions with our opponent for this week. But, we’ve reached the appropriate time, so that’s what we’re doing this morning.
Once again, yours truly had the opportunity to exchange some questions with Bill Zimmerman of Windy City Gridiron, SB Nation’s home for everything relating to the Chicago Bears. You can see the answers to the questions that Bill sent my way right here. Here are Bill’s answers to the questions that I sent to him.
1) With Justin Fields returning for this one after the Vikings knocked him out of the last game between these two teams, I’ll revisit a question we went over the last time these two teams met. With the Bears now seemingly destined for the #1 overall pick thanks to the Carolina Panthers, do you think the sentiment has swayed more towards drafting a quarterback to replace Justin Fields or attempting to enhance the talent around him to give him another opportunity?
I think most Bears fans expect the front office to select either Drake Maye or Caleb Williams if they end up with the 1st or 2nd pick in the draft. It just makes too much sense at this point. There is an underlying sentiment that hopes that perhaps Justin Fields plays incredibly well (he has played well in 3 of his last 4 games) over his final 6 games, stakes claim that he’s the Bears QB and the Bears can trade down for another haul like they received last year. The odds of that, however, are low.
I think most Bears fans are big Justin Fields fans and will cheer for him wherever he ends up next year, but the fact that his passing results were poor his first two years, he has missed multiple games due to injuries in all three years, and he still has been inconsistent this year, as much as we love him, the odds are stacked against him.
2) This time around, the Bears have to prepare to face a Minnesota offense led by Josh Dobbs rather than Kirk Cousins. Have more mobile quarterbacks given Chicago’s defense trouble so far this season or do you think they’ll be prepared for that extra dimension that Dobbs brings to Minnesota’s offense?
It’s funny, when I read the question, I looked at it and went, hmm, that’s something I hadn’t thought of and then when I reflected on the season, they haven’t really faced a mobile quarterback. I mean, they were flattened by the Chiefs, but that had nothing to do with Patrick Mahomes’ mobility.
That being said, I do think the Bears will be able to handle a mobile quarterback. They have two pretty good edges now with Yannick Ngakoue and Montez Sweat and DeMarcus Walker has been playing well and they rotate him all over the defensive line. That being said, I’m not saying the defensive line is great, just saying it’s improved. Their run defense is pretty solid, the line usually holds their gaps and sets the edge decently, so I think they’ll do a pretty good job keeping Dobbs behind the line of scrimmage.
That being said, the pass rush has improved since last we played, but it’s still insufficient. Dobbs will have time to throw the football, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.
3) The Bears have had a lot of late blown leads during the Eberflus era, including last week’s loss to Detroit. Have those losses been more on the players not executing the way they should or is it more about how Eberflus coaches towards the end of those sorts of games?
Well, if you listen to Matt Eberflus’ press conferences, he will tell you the problem is that the players aren’t executing the plays that are being called. He points the fingers a lot, which isn’t the sign of a great leader, but if you ask Bears fans, in both of the massive leads they’ve blown, to the Denver Broncos (biggest blown lead in franchise history) and the Detroit Lions (first team in 90 years to have 40+ minutes TOP, +3 turnovers and lose the game) it’s because they went super conservative down the stretch.
Whether it’s by Eberflus’ request, or Luke Getsy’s own decision, they tend to take the ball out of Justin Fields hands late in the game and stick with the running game. And when I mean they take the ball out of Fields’ hands, I mean, they barely even let him run it. It’s a strange situation. The whole plan this year was to find out if Justin Fields is the guy, but whether it’s because Getsy and Eberflus are concerned he’s going to take a bad sack or turn the ball over, they don’t let him play his game.
So what we are seeing is a coaching staff getting conservative to try to cling to games so they can get some Ws and save their own jobs, and don’t understand the actual assignment of giving Justin Fields the ball with the game on the line (whether trailing or protecting a lead) and see what he can do. Either way, it’s a failure from the coaching staff.
4) Speaking of Eberflus, we talked a bit about him being on the hot seat the last time around. Should the Bears decide to go in a different direction this offseason, are there any names that have surfaced among the Bears’ faithful that they might like to see take over in 2024 or is it too early for that sort of speculation at this point?
99.9% of Bears fans want Matt Eberflus fired. The 0.1% that don’t probably live in Wisconsin and are secretly Packers fans. He has really done a poor job this year on multiple levels and it’s hard to imagine anyone at Halas Hall looking at the results and going, yeah, this is the guy we want leading our team.
Anytime the Bears have a coaching opening, the name Jim Harbaugh surfaces and I expect it to again. He played several years in Chicago in the late 80s and early 90s and several media members have dropped hints that Harbaugh has always wanted to come to Chicago and revive the franchise. Albert Breer has called it his “dream job.”
I think the name a lot of Bears fans like is Ben Johnson, the Lions offensive coordinator. Can he be a good CEO head coach? No idea. But from an offensive perspective, he’s the type of guy the Bears really need. They are almost certainly going to have a rookie quarterback and for the first time, the Bears can actually do things right and align the QB and the coach and have everyone on the same page. See, that’s not something the Bears franchise has ever figured out. Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy drafted Justin Fields in 2021 and were subsequently fired, giving Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus a 2nd year QB they didn’t draft. In 2017, the Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky, fired John Fox after that season and Matt Nagy inherited a QB he didn’t necessarily want. This cycle goes back years and years including coaches and GMs as well.
I think the big thing here is the Bears hiring an offensive-minded head coach who has a say in the new quarterback and having everything align. The right process is what most Bears fans are hoping for rather than a specific name.
5) Our friends at the DraftKings Sportsbook have set the over/under for Josh Dobbs’ passing yardage for Monday night at 230.5 yards and for Justin Fields at 194.5 yards. Which of those quarterbacks do you think is more likely to hit the “over” on their total?
Because I still don’t trust the Bears passing defense, I will go with Dobbs. I also hated Luke Getsy’s gameplan the last time they faced the Vikings and he isn’t necessarily a guy who learns from his mistakes, unfortunately. If the Bears keep Fields in the pocket like they did last time, Brian Flores is going to tee off on him and it’s going to be a long day for Fields and the Bears passing attack. However, if Getsy gets smart and uses play action and moves Fields around in the pocket more, he should be able to produce more of the results we’ve seen in his other recent games.
If I had to bet on Fields, I would take the over, but I have more confidence in the Vikings passing game than I do Chicago’s in the upcoming matchup.
Thanks again to Bill for taking the time to sit down and answer our questions for this week! We’ll have more on today’s game over the next 24 hours while all the other NFL action is going on.