Failing 'Flus: Bears coaches need to do a better job in many areas
Like all coaches, Matt Eberflus is big on week-to-week improvement.
Win or lose, mistakes are made in every contest. The faster players clean them up, the faster the Bears can become a dangerous team.
Well, after the Bears' 23-20 victory over Houston at Soldier Field on Sunday, parts of the coaching staff should also do some serious soul-searching.
Because, wow, did they have a bad day.
• Let's start with the wretched clock management at the end of the first half. Trailing 14-13, the Bears got the ball on their own 10-yard line with 1:04 remaining. Eberflus still had all of his timeouts.
Despite a holding penalty on Cole Kmet, the Bears managed to pick up a first down thanks to a 9-yard run by Khalil Herbert.
It's now first-and-10 on the 28-yard line, but the clock is running at 35 seconds, 34, 33 ... and it just keeps going.
Justin Fields finally snaps the ball with 19 seconds remaining, but he's sacked and the Bears didn't run another play.
Eberflus admitted his gaffe during the postgame presser, saying: "I should have called timeout at 35 seconds and we'd have been fine. I gotta be better on that situation there."
The fact that Eberflus couldn't figure this out -- especially after all the end-of-half/end-of-game prep this staff put in during training camp -- is a serious red flag.
I've said this before, but it bears repeating: The best coaches have Ph.Ds in clock management. They use every second to their advantage.
From here on out, Eberflus needs to prove he can handle this part of the job.
• The Bears' run game was a big reason why they won Sunday. Still, their reluctance to throw on third down on back-to-back drives in the second quarter was baffling.
You can somewhat forgive offensive coordinator Luke Getsy the first time as the Bears were facing third-and-17 from their own 13. On the next drive, however, it was third-and-6 from the 14, and rookie Trestan Ebner picked up a measly 2 yards on a run off left guard.
The odds of picking up a first down by running in those situations is awfully low. But when you throw, there's always the chance for a defensive holding/illegal contact/pass interference penalty.
To me, this shows the utter lack of faith Getsy has in Fields and/or the receiving corps.
• When it comes to the failures in the passing game Sunday, much of the blame falls on Fields. Still, a good coaching staff puts a young, raw signal-caller in position to succeed as often as possible while also clearly showing him what he's missing.
Now, we aren't on the sidelines so it's entirely possible that the latter was happening. If it was, the conversation should have gone something like this: "Here are five examples of Cole Kmet being open or completely wide open. You've got to get him the ball."
Now, it's possible that Kmet may have been Option 3 or 4 on some of those plays, so Fields didn't see him in time. The solution is to call plays where Kmet is the primary or secondary read, because it was clear to anyone watching that the big TE was having a heckuva day beating linebackers all over the field.
Believe it or not, the passing game can be A LOT better. But it needs everyone working in unison for that to happen.
The way-back machine:
The Bears piled up 281 yards on the ground Sunday, their highest total since September 30, 1984. Just for fun, I looked up the box score from that game, which Dallas won 23-14.
Walter Payton finished with 155 yards on 25 carries, but another 48 came from FB Matt Suhey and 45 more came from QB Jim McMahon. Backup QB Rusty Lisch added 31 yards on 1 attempt, and Calvin Thomas had 4 yards on 1 attempt.
The crazy thing is that Payton had 130 yards on 20 carries at halftime, but he was given the ball only five times in the second half.
McMahon completed just 6 of 14 passes for 79 yards, while Lisch -- who entered for the injured McMahon -- was 5-for-8 for 43 yards.
The Bears did not score in the second half and fell to 3-2. They would go on to post a 10-6 record and eventually lost the NFC championship 23-0 to San Francisco.