Matt Eberflus discusses the latest with the Bears

Matt Eberflus discusses the latest with the Bears

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - Going against the Arizona Cardinals this coming Sunday (3:25 p.m./FOX), both teams will be depleted from injuries. For Arizona, one notable injury is they will be without top receiver Marquise Brown as he is out with an ankle injury. Conversely for the Bears, they have a lot of question marks with tight end Cole Kmet and running backs D’Onta Foreman and Travis Homer all questionable. Offensive lineman Teven Jenkins has been ruled out with a concussion.

Foreman is listed as not participating in practice on Thursday for personal reasons and was limited on Friday. For Kmet, he was limited on Thursday and Friday but according to head coach Matt Eberflus, was “trending in the right direction.”

This game is also going to be a bit personal for Eberflus. Back with the Indianapolis Colts when he was defensive coordinator, Cardinals’ head coach Jonathan Gannon was serving as the cornerbacks coach before becoming the defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. After a disappointing season last year for Arizona, Gannon became the head coach. However, this year has also been quite rough as they sit at 3-11. Given the familiarity between the two, Eberflus is a little more familiar with Gannon and his schemes.

“They do a really good job with their disguise. (Jonathan Gannon’s) is big into that and certainly he’s had success when he was at Philly those two years and Jonathan’s a heck of a coach and he really knows how to scheme people up,” Eberflus said. “He was my defensive back’s coach at the Colts. He did a heck of a game for us there and then like I said, Philly had some dominant defenses as well.”

While the defense has been cliquing quite well for Chicago, the offense is a different story. Despite having three solid running backs in Foreman, Khalil Herbert and rookie Roschon Johnson, the Bears cannot seem to get things going now that all three have returned from injury. In fact, for the second season in a row, quarterback Justin Fields leads the team in rushing despite missing five weeks from a dislocated thumb.

Among the running backs, Foreman leads the team in rushing; however, between all three backs, they barely have over 1,000 yards going into week 16. Eberflus stated that the sluggishness of the running game is from a lack of continuity even though this did not appear to be as much of a problem earlier in the season.

“Foreman’s been a big part of the first and second down and Herbert was injured and coming back from there,” Eberflus said. “But, again, there’s been some continuity issues because of the injuries, guys in and out. So, I think that may be a part of it. But, certainly look forward to getting that going this week.”

Besides elite receiver DJ Moore and Kmet, the receiving offense has also been sluggish. None of the other wide receivers have consistency stepped up, making Kmet the No. 2 receiver on the team. There are no other consistent players behind him. That comes a bit as a shock given how productive receiver Darnell Mooney was just two seasons ago. Having an illness and not being able to participate in practice on Wednesday certainly did not help.

“Darnell’s been working hard. He was out with an illness one day,” Eberflus said. “He came back the last two days and really had some good practices and we’re excited to get him going and we’re going to keep feeding him the ball. He’s had some really good games where he had a lot of YAC yards and he can really catch and split the defense and we’re looking forward to that, to seeing that and we’re going to keep feeding him and that’s an important piece to our offense.”

It is a little too late to put all of the pieces together on offense for Chicago with only three games left and far outside of the playoff picture. However, it is a chance to see what the Bears may be capable of going into next season and what issues, such as wide receiver and potentially even quarterback, may be of primary concern going into the offseason and the NFL Draft.

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