Bears

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus is tough when grading the film

‘Definitely tough grades on the loaf,’ linebacker Roquan Smith said Monday

LAKE FOREST – The grades are in. The professor was tough on his students.

Bears head coach Matt Eberflus and his staff spent Sunday night and Monday morning grading the film from the team’s 19-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Every NFL team grades the tape, but Eberflus has a number of unique things he’s looking for when he watches the film.

One is how his players embody the coach’s H.I.T.S. principle, which stands for hustle, intensity, takeaways and smarts. The staff grades players on minute details such as whether they played through the whistle, whether they sped up into a tackle or slowed down, and whether a pass rusher reached for the football or not.

They’re also counting “loafs.” If a player isn’t giving maximum effort, it’s a loaf. They grade every player on every single snap. The loaf system is something that derived from the late 1990s and early 2000s Buccaneers staff with Tony Dungy, Rod Marinelli and Monte Kiffin, among others.

Eberflus is pretty liberal when it comes to handing out loafs.

“Definitely tough grades on the loaf,” linebacker Roquan Smith said Monday.

Smith admitted that he had several loafs on his report card.

“It’s how they view it,” Smith said. “[It’s] how they see things. You just have to respect it and just bust your tail and try to prevent those.”

At the end of the season, Eberflus will give out “The 90% Club.” It’s something he did in Indianapolis, too, when he was the defensive coordinator. If a player plays 10 snaps and has only one loaf, he would be on pace to reach The 90% Club. The coaches tally it across the whole season.

Making the club is pretty tough to do. Eberflus said in the past he had only three or four players each season make it into The 90% Club.

“It’s not very many guys,” Eberflus said.

Eberflus declined to say if anybody played at that level Sunday. The Bears prefer to keep those grades internal.

Right guard rotation: Eberflus was happy with how both Teven Jenkins and Lucas Patrick played at right guard. They split reps at the position almost evenly throughout the game.

“They both did a nice job, and they were finishing their blocks,” Eberflus said. “I thought their pass protection was good. I thought their effort in finishing plays was good.”

It remains unclear if the Bears will move forward with a rotation or eventually settle on one starter. Eberflus declined to say much about it when asked after the game Sunday. The team probably would prefer to have a consistent starter at all five spots on the line. But Patrick, who was forced to play with a club on his broken hand, can’t play his preferred position at center right now because of the injury.

Jenkins has impressed his coaches with his ability to pick up the guard position so quickly. The Bears might even be a bit surprised to find themselves in this situation. They have two capable right guards when, only a few weeks ago, it looked like they had none.

Weather’s impact: Eberflus said the weather did play a big part in the game plan and preparation ahead of Sunday’s game. The rain in Chicago was forecast for several days and came as no surprise.

“We talked about it a lot,” Ebeflus said. “We talked about it with gloves. We talked about it with shoes. And then when we saw the field conditions – because it changed in the second half – you started to get a little wind at our back to start there, and then obviously you saw the deluge come down in the fourth. It all changed.”

Eberflus said he was glad his team was up by nine points, not down by nine points, when the rain started pelting the field in the fourth quarter.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.