Incompetence from the Bears is a way of life around here, as normal as electric bills and political skulduggery. The losing is expected. The poor drafting is a given. The inability to find a quarterback is an eternal cross to bear.
But weirdness and chaos on the coaching staff, that’s a new one.
The Bears fired running backs coach David Walker on Wednesday, reportedly for workplace behavior, presumably not the kind that’s taught in business school. Six weeks earlier, defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned for what news reports termed “inappropriate activity.’’
It’s not good when you hear more about an NFL team’s human resources department than its scouting department.
Less than two years into their partnership, Bears general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus have really hit the big top. As in circus. The Raiders fired their head coach and general manager Wednesday for leading a bad football team. The only thing separating the Bears’ situation from the Raiders’ is improper behavior. Yet the status quo is still going strong at Halas Hall.
We still don’t know the details of what led to Williams’ resignation, and the tight-lipped Bears probably view that as a bigger victory than any they’ve had this season. The reason for the coordinator’s departure may have involved a computer and, thanks to all the secrecy, the imagination goes to places it would rather not go.
Parting ways with two assistant coaches during the season for behavioral issues is an embarrassment and a terrible reflection on leadership’s ability to hire good people. At least that’s one way to look at it.
“Our culture is awesome,’’ Eberflus said at a news conference Wednesday.
This franchise is a bigger mess than its 2-6 record and quarterback-less existence suggest.
What’s happening here is the antithesis of how the Bears view themselves and how they want you to view them. Poles passed on taking troubled Georgia defensive lineman Jalen Carter in the first round of this year’s draft. All of Poles’ talk after the draft about character and team culture implied there wasn’t room at Halas Hall for anyone with criminal issues.
This is the same guy who, in his first year as GM, watched three players he signed get charged with crimes. One of them was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and a weapon after dozing off in a fast-food drive-thru. It’s a major character issue in the NFL if you can’t stay awake for your fries.
And now this coaching fiasco.
There’s a big difference between what the organization says and what it does. Eberflus appears to be a mild-mannered, buttoned-down coach who obeys all rules. He talks about the importance of discipline with a gleam in his eye. Yet, he’s the one who hired Williams and Walker. And look at the Bears’ lack of on-field cohesion. They had a combined 21 penalties the past three games. Only six teams had more in that span. This isn’t a tight ship. It’s a leaky bathtub.
Only the Bears could make a major move like acquiring defensive end Montez Sweat and then have something like Walker’s firing happen the next day. What should have been an uplifting moment for the organization and the fan base turned into the spectacle of watching Eberflus avoid giving details about what led to Walker’s dismissal.
He said that the Bears did their due diligence in the hiring of Williams and Walker, and that there were no red flags during either interview process.
But he really, really didn’t want to talk about that Wednesday.
“Last four games, we’re 2-2, right?’’ Eberflus said. “I think the direction’s good.’’
It’s not. It’s been one thing after another with him and Poles on the job. Two coaches gone, reportedly for workplace unprofessionalism? Really? The Bears will have lots of money and draft picks to play with after the season, but there’s nothing in recent and not-so-recent team history that would lead one to conclude that success is right around the corner. The Bears’ history over the past four decades points to more trouble ahead. The events of the past six weeks point to a coach soon getting canned for thinking it’s Bring a Stripper to Work Day.
Eberflus tried to massage the Walker firing into a positive.
“We have a standard to uphold, and when that standard’s not met, we act and we act accordingly,’’ he said.
The Bears: Men of action. Got it.
The Raiders’ firing of coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler is business as usual in the NFL. The Bears’ parting with two coaches in six weeks is not. We’ve become so used to the bizarre around here that we need to remind ourselves of that. This isn’t normal.
This franchise isn’t normal.