Matt Eberflus and Bears coaches on the spot vs. Texans

In retrospect, Matt Nagy’s first game as the Bears’ head coach — against the Packers in 2018 — was the first red flag.

On the opening drive of the much-anticipated Nagy era, the Bears opened with the T-formation and Mitch Trubisky at quarterback and drove 86 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead at Lambeau Field.

The Bears drove 60 yards on nine plays for a field goal on their next drive — and that was about it. The Bears averaged 7.3 yards per play on those first two drives, but 3.1 after that in a 24-23 loss that was considered a pretty good start for Nagy in Chicago.

It didn’t take long for the NFL to figure out Nagy’s offense. The Bears scored a touchdown on their opening drive in three of his first four games (75.0%) — but only six times in the next 37 games (16.2%) before Nagy gave up play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor in 2020.

So here we are, just two games into another new era and Bears fans are getting a little nervous about Luke Getsy, Justin Fields and another formative offense that doesn’t isn’t forming quickly enough.

Again against the Packers at Lambeau Field, Getsy’s offense started quickly. The Bears drove 71 yards on seven plays for a touchdown on their opening drive. And then, not much. Three consecutive three-and-outs, and just three more points.

The Bears averaged 10.1 yards per play on their opening drive, but only 4.5 yards per play after that. And Justin Fields threw just 11 passes despite the Bears being down by two touchdowns the entire second half.

Here we go again? It’s a little too early for that. Getsy and his offense won’t be defined by two games. Or three games, for that matter. Still, Sunday’s game against the Texans will be an early litmus test for Getsy and Matt Eberflus’ entire staff. The Bears have big improvements to make on offense and defense — in a very playable situation at home against a Texans team that ranks 29th or lower in most NFL power rankings. Let’s see how they do.

With a roster of many unestablished players with modest credentials, Eberflus is counting on the coaching staff to produce the progress that will set up the Bears for a giant leap in 2023.

“We will do a better job,” he said when asked about wide receiver Darnell Mooney having just two receptions for four yards in the first two games. “We’ve got great coaches. Those guys are smart. They know how to get it done, and we will get it done.”

We are at an awkward stage of an NFL season, when early results seem defining to observers outside of Halas Hall, while coaches like Getsy see each game as 1/17th of a rebuilding process.

So Getsy celebrated the offense’s fast start — “You saw a team come out prepared, execute and score –and its resilience after three consecutive three-and-outs that followed.

“That was to me so impressive how they stuck together,” Getsy said. “I’ve been on a lot of sidelines that when you go three-and-out that many times in a row, things get weird. [But] those guys were tough. They stuck together. It was about how can we get better the next play? And how we’re ready to roll. We’ve got the right kind of men in that room. I’m excited to see what’s next for them.”

I’m guessing a lot of Bears fans are rolling their eyes at that explanation. They’ve been here before. Getsy has not. You can’t blame Bears fans for their skepticism. You can’t blame Getsy for his enthusiasm. That’s why every game is a big one for the new Bears coaching staff. It’s early, but it gets late around here awfully quick.

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