The news leaked from Halas Hall over the past week. Chicago Bears players have admitted this training camp is by far the toughest they’ve ever had. The sheer intensity demanded by the coaching staff has them gassed by the time they return to the locker room. The guys are sprawled on the ground, trying to recover their energy. This was all entirely by design. Matt Eberflus promised as much when he took over as head coach.
He wants a healthy football team. Everyone needs to be conditioned for the NFL season. Still, it hasn’t been entirely clear why he holds this position. Training hard is not uncommon, but Eberflus never gave an answer that seemed to come from the heart. Hearing the press talk about Cole Kmet and others noticing the pace of workouts, the 51-year-old spoke up. His philosophy is clear.
It’s hard to argue with that.
Eberflus is convinced that a trainer should make practices as brutal as possible. By doing this, players will start to see games as easy in comparison. Watch winning teams in all sports and you’ll hear different versions of the same quote. The games are hard, but they are nothing compared to our practices. When a coach can make Sundays a reward, that’s when you know they’ve achieved something.
This is to condition its players to play at maximum level for 60 minutes. Too often in recent seasons, the Bears have faltered late in games. Four times last season alone they held the lead in the 4th quarter and ended up giving it away. Their inability to finish games was a hallmark of the Matt Nagy era. Eberflus has no intention of letting this linger on his watch.
It may sound archaic, but Matt Eberflus has to weed out the weaklings.
Football is a difficult sport. It takes a lot of mind and body. Only those who are strong in both areas succeed in this league. Bears coaches need to assemble a roster of players they know won’t quit when there are two minutes left in a game, and they need a touchdown or a 4th save to win. Teams with superior mental toughness and physical stamina are almost always the ones who triumph in these situations.
Matt Eberflus sends a message. It’s not his job to be their friend. His job is to win football matches. This means doing whatever is necessary to get them ready for the grind. Opponents can sometimes outsmart the Bears or be more skilled than the Bears. One thing is certain, however. They will never work more or hustle the Bears.
That’s why it feels like GM Ryan Poles made the right hire.
Eberflus may not be the next attacking prodigy, but he understands football. Effort and endurance can overcome a lot in this league. That’s the foundation he wants this team to be built on. Once that’s established, everything else should fall into place once new talents are added. George Halas would have been proud.
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