After the schedule was first released, Bears coach Matt Eberflus said he didn’t care that their farewell week was the last ever.
Worrying little about saying goodbye to Week 14 doesn’t mean Eberflus is ignoring the schedule, however. On the contrary, he recognizes the built-in advantage the Bears and quarterback Justin Fields have with this year’s schedule.
Any new coaching staff could use an edge, and this year’s schedule gives the Bears a bigger advantage than just giving them a weaker list of opponents and a long postseason home game.
The Bears’ advantage comes early and as such they are very familiar with their opponents’ playstyles in the first three weeks of the schedule and four of the first five weeks. It’s not the only other edge, it’s the main edge.
“Yes, we’ve started that process and we’re looking at it,” said coach Matt Eberflus. “Once you have the schedule look and see, hey, who are your first three or four games? What are the short weeks you come across as the (season) progresses and what preparation you need to get ahead, in training camp so to speak.
“Every unique type of pattern you might see going through your schedule, whether it’s running or passing, you know, a running quarterback might be doing something unique that you need to work on during training camp. We’ll be We’re working on our division during camp, as well as some of these early opponents, and that’s typical of the league.
The Bears now play the same offensive style as San Francisco and Green Bay, having switched more to the Mike Shanahan style that his son Kyle popularized with the 49ers. Also, they have a potential advantage over Green Bay since offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was the Packers quarterbacks coach and passing coordinator.
In week 3 they host the Houston Texans. Coach Lovie Smith’s Cover 2 defense is the one that created Eberflus, so there will be very close similarities.
“I mean, I think you’re basing it on what you’ve got in the building, you know, so we’ve got a bunch of people from that (Packers) staff and people that were also part of that system,” Eberflus said. “(QB coach) Andrew Janocko was also part of that system (with Minnesota), a very similar system, so these guys are giving us great insight into that and we’re going to practice against a similar offense, so that’s going to be very helpful for the early one Part of our schedule.”
Another potential defensive advantage for the Bears is facing the AFC East in four games.
Eberflus and almost all of the Bears’ defensive coaching staff came from the Colts. Last year the Colts played the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.
They also played twice in division games against Houston and against San Francisco and have those teams on this year’s schedule.
Overall, the Bears have seven games against teams the Colts faced when Eberflus and many of his staff were in Indianapolis last year. And in those games, the Colts went 7-0.
Because of the free design, things change from year to year.
And of course they don’t have last year’s Colts roster. They have a rebuilt Bears roster.
“I think you want to put yourself in the best position to be successful and you have to look at the squad as they have it at the moment,” Eberflus said of the opposition. “There are a lot of people who have left certain places and added players, just like us.
“So you have to look at those skills and then see how they fit together in the staff and then also in your plan. So, I think that’s all encompassing.”