Matt Eberflus doing everything he can to motivate Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus looks on during the first half against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, in Chicago.

Coaches in 2022 act and talk much differently than their predecessors from 40, 50 and 60 years ago.

Those were the Mike Ditka/Vince Lombardi days of yelling and screaming; of swearing and cussing; of run ‘em til they can’t run anymore.

No pain, no gain.

For the most part, that kind of thinking is gone – and gone to the point where some of today’s pampered athletes crawl into a hole if they’re harshly criticized.

In Matt Eberflus’ locker room, however, not only are the Bears called out for slacking during practice – they’re also given “loafs” if they don’t finish a play with maximum effort in a game.

The day after each contest, a sheet detailing everyone’s loafs is passed out for all to see. A couple theoretical examples might include:

• Play 15, “HS”: Player A was running half speed.

• Play 26, “OOS”: A defensive lineman didn’t sprint “out of the stack” fast enough after the QB threw the ball.

Eberflus on Wednesday was quick to point out that the staff is not criticizing guys for lack of effort.

Not even close.

“It’s not like I’m saying, ‘Hey, that’s terrible. You loafed. I can’t believe it,’” said Eberflus, who is preparing his team to play at Green Bay on Sunday in front of a national TV audience.

“It’s more of a partnership. How can we do this better? ... The player understands that. ... You’re calling out to improve.”

Now some might be thinking: Wait a minute. Aren’t professional athletes going 100% all the time? Does something like this actually motivate pro players?

“I don’t want to say it’s extra motivation,” said tight end Cole Kmet. “We all play with an extreme amount of passion and effort each and every play. Everyone across the league does that.

“But the point of it is just to go a little bit further than everybody else. That’s what’s going to separate us from other teams.”

Linebacker Matthew Adams, who played for Eberflus in Indianapolis agreed: “Every play you want to empty the tank. You want to leave no doubt. There’s no 1-on-1s in tackling on defense.

“If the ball is thrown outside to the numbers, you want to go help the corner out and make a tackle by hustling to the ball.”

Each coach may have a different definition of what constitutes a “loaf,” but that’s to be expected. They are human, after all.

Roquan Smith said Monday that the grading system is very difficult. And, no, there is no appeals process.

“You just have to respect it and just like bust your tail and try to prevent (them),” Smith said.

This is just another creative way Eberflus and his staff motivates.

Remember, there was a points system during training camp for defensive players. There are “player of the week” awards. There’s the “HITS” principle. There are “loafs.” And there’s The 90% Club, a group you can join by holding your “loafs” to under 10% for the entire season.

Whatever helps, right? Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can be the difference between winning and losing.

And right now, it’s the Bears who waltz into Green Bay at 1-0 to face a Packers squad that was thoroughly outplayed in Week 1 by the Vikings.

Imagine if the unthinkable happens and the Bears pull off another upset.

Defensive end Trevis Gipson doesn’t have to imagine it. He already believes it’ll happen – and he’d probably sprint to Green Bay to prove it.

“We gonna win. You’ve got my word,” he said. “Our coach told us this morning – we’re better than they are. We know that. The coaches know that.

“But a lot of people outside of this facility don’t believe that. So it’s really just gonna be up to us – the men in the helmets – and we’re gonna have to go out there and show it on Sunday night.”