The Chicago Bears just wrapped up their final minicamp before training camp begins, expectedly, in late July. But rookie head coach Matt Eberflus delivered a clear message to his team before sending them on their way for the next few weeks. Much of the debate around the Bears’ offseason program has been around the lack of weapons for second-year quarterback Justin Fields. There has also been much ado over the many offensive line combinations the Bears have tried.
But, as they get set for their first season under the Ryan Poles-Matt Eberflus regime, not much can be left to chance. This time away can be a nerve-racking experience for head coaches and general managers all across the NFL landscape.
Eberflus is, now, no different.
Bears HC Sends Strong Message to Team After Final Minicamp
No Wasted Time
Eberflus began his media availability by explaining all of the Bears wearing No. 41 in tribute to the late Brian Piccolo who passed away from cancer 52 years ago to the day on June 16, 1972. The Bears coach also thanked the entire organization upon completion of his first offseason program.
Then, he began laying out his expectations in the team meeting.
“We talked in the team meeting…about our summer conditioning and getting mentally and physically ready to go into training camp. That’s an important piece for the guys. We want them to grow…during the course of the offseason.”
Eberflus then reminded everyone of just how much time will pass before the Bears veterans are expected back at Halas Hall.
“The veterans have like 40 days before they come back. So, that’s a good chunk of time to get better personally, to get better physically, and as a whole man to be able to do that in the offseason.”
#Bears HC Matt Eberflus speaks next to 1969 George Halas Courage Award that was won by Gale Sayers. Sayers gave the award to teammate Brian Piccolo, who was battling cancer at the time. Piccolo passed away 52 years ago today. pic.twitter.com/Pa8MIiU0Fq
— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) June 16, 2022
After detailing some of what the Bears did in practice, Eberflus shared what his parting message to the team was.
“The summer for these guys is going to be important. The message I said, after practice to them was, ‘come back lean, fit, and strong’.
Eberflus said that he left the team with “get your track shoes on” as he did in his introductory press conference. He also made it clear just what he plans on using the upcoming training camp for.
“Training camp’s not to get in shape. You should already be in shape. Because we are blowing and going once we get to training camp.”
He also told his squad to be safe and mindful of their surroundings this summer.
All Hands on Deck
While presented as a message to the team, it could have also been aimed directly at one of their best players. Bears’ all-time single-season sack leader, Robert Quinn did not report for the mandatory minicamp. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported on May 20 that he was hearing rumblings that the pass-rusher wanted out.
“I continue to hear that Quinn wants out of Chicago – and who could blame him? – and there are a host of interested teams. Bears brass has told everyone he ain’t going anywhere, but they will keep asking and that’s not lost on the veteran defensive end.”
But it could also have something to do with the landscape.
Quinn’s value is probably not going to change much on its own. By waiting, however, the Bears could see a team grow desperate if they suffer an injury to one of their own during the summer or training camp.
It should also be noted that, while Poles, the Bears’ rookie general manager, has been adamant about not wanting to trade the veteran, he would not rule out the possibility on 670 The Score’s “Mully & Haugh” in Chicago on May 6.
“Robert… embodies everything that coach Eberflus wants in terms of rushing the passer, the effort, the motor, tenacity…right now, he’s a part of the plan. I’m excited about Robert. In terms of moves and all that, this league is crazy. I can’t rule anything out and give absolutes, but I want him on the team.”
This saga is far from over and a resolution could take some time.
Eberflus’ Message to Bears Clear
Including the 2022-23 season, Quinn still has three years and over $29 million remaining on his contract, per Spotrac.com. But the dead money should the Bears cut him drops from over $12 million this season to nearly $8.5 million next season when they are already projected to be flush with cash.
Whether that is the scenario that plays out remains to be seen. But it does not sound like the head coach has time for any excuses, not even from one of the team’s best players in his June 15 presser.
“We’re not talking about that as an organization. We hoped he would be here. He’s not. Ryan and his staff are going to work through that. I really don’t have any other comment other than that about Robert Quinn.”
He noted that he had spoken to Quinn but deferred other matters to Poles.
Judging from Eberflus’ message to the Bears, no matter. The veteran – and the entire team – already know what to expect and what will be expected of them once training camp rolls around.