Time to fire Matt Eberflus and hire … Jim Harbaugh?

Bears overreactions: Time to fire Matt Eberflus and hire … Jim Harbaugh? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

It has nearly been a full calendar year since the Bears last won an NFL game.

They had the Denver Broncos on the ropes Sunday but coughed up 24 unanswered points to blow a 21-point second-half lead and lose 31-28.

There was a lot of good from the Broncos game (please don’t shoot the messenger).

The Bears’ offense got into a rhythm. They played to quarterback Justin Fields’ strengths, got the run game going, and a curious Broncos defensive plan allowed DJ Moore, Darnell Mooney, and Cole Kmet to get loose. Not all of what the Bears did against the Broncos will be universally transferable, but there was a lot for Fields and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy to build off.

Still, the Bears lost their 14th straight game dating back to last October. Head coach Matt Eberflus is now 3-18 at the helm of the Bears.

Eberflus got a pass last year in what was a teardown season, but it’s hard to keep the heat off during a 14-game losing streak.

As such, we start this week’s Chase Claypool-free mailbag with questions about Eberflus’ future and who might replace him should Year 2 be the end of the line.

Overreaction? No

I don’t know if Jim Harbaugh is the perfect fit, but he’s a proven NFL coach with an excellent track record of both program building and on-field success.

It’s not a secret that Harbaugh is interested in returning to the NFL. After all, you can’t get suspended for buying hamburgers in the NFL. But it will be a question of if the Bears have what it takes to pry him away from Michigan. Would he want complete roster control? Would Ryan Poles have to go as well?

As old school as Harbaugh is, he seems to understand how you win in modern football. He should be on the list if the Bears move on from Eberflus, no question.

But the Bears have never fired a head coach during the season and they currently are already without a defensive coordinator. Are they going to fire Eberflus after five games and make offensive coordinator Luke Getsy or special teams coordinator Richard Hightower an interim head coach for 12 games? Seems doubtful.

Overreaction? Yes and no

There are a few names here that I love should the Bears be in the head coach market. Bobby Slowik, Ben Johnson, and Eric Bienemy would be among my first calls.

Slowik is a Shanahan disciple who is doing great things with Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud. Johnson and Bienemy are well known offensive minds.

I’m completely out on the idea of going defense first again. Offense wins in the NFL, and as much as I love Lou Anarumo, I’d rather pick an offensive mind who can either win with Fields or select his own QB.

Now, Bill O’Brien is interesting. He was a very successful head coach in Houston and a complete train wreck as a general manager. If he’s willing just to be the ball coach and let Poles handle personnel, I’m interested in it. He comes in under the three names above and Harbaugh, but that’s a “retread” option I do like.

Overreaction? Not at all

In a season filled with dysfunction through four weeks, I really appreciate a question that isn’t about burning everything down.

Billings has been phenomenal through four games. He leads the Bears in pressure rate, has been solid against the run, and has earned more time with the pass rush unit as the Bears look for ways to get to the quarterback.

Per PFF, Billings is second on the team in pressures and hurries behind Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue has just four more pressures and two more hurries despite having almost double the pass-rush snaps. Billings also leads Bears’ defensive linemen in win percentage at 11.9 percent.

The only other two candidates are DJ Moore, who has been phenomenal when the Bears have got him the ball, and Jaylon Johnson, who has given up only five catches for 73 yards on 12 targets in three games.

But Billings has been sensational. That also tells you where things are at with the Bears.

Overreaction? Yes, but you can convince me.

Do the Bears need to add blue-chip talent on the lines? Absolutely. No question.

But if they end up with the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the draft and are certain Fields isn’t the guy, they cannot pass on Caleb Williams. Williams could tell them he won’t play for them and ask them to trade the pick, but if that doesn’t happen, they have to take Williams. He’s an incredible talent with Mahomes-light off-script ability.

Simply can’t pass on him.

Now, Marvin Harrison Jr. at No. 2 would be an interesting test case for Poles and either Eberflus or a new head coach. He has all the makings of an elite NFL wide receiver. Williams with Harrison and DJ Moore is a combination worth drooling over.

But they also need a game-wrecking edge rusher and a starting left tackle. That second pick would be an interesting debate.

But you can’t pass on Williams unless …

Overreaction? I think so

Fields looked terrific against the Broncos. That’s a bad defense, but he did what good quarterbacks do against bad defenses.

The Bears now need to find a way for him to repeat that for the next 13 games against better opponents.

I like Fields and think he’s incredibly talented. It won’t be his fault if things don’t work out in Chicago. If you play his career out 10 times, this could end up being the worst possible outcome, given the situation he landed in.

But it’s hard to see a world in which Fields goes on a run, leaves no doubt he’s the guy, and the Bears still go 3-14 or 4-13. I would assume that a leveled-up Fields would be able to will the Bears to wins over the Raiders, Panthers, Cardinals, Falcons, etc.

This only happens if the defense can’t find a pulse and gives up 30-plus points per game while Fields leads the offense to an average of 25-28.

You know what? Maybe it’s not that ridiculous.

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