clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Interview with the Enemy: 5 Questions with Windy City Gridiron

There are plenty of interesting questions surrounding the Falcons upcoming game against the Bears, and we’ve enlisted the help of Windy City Gridiron’s Lester Wiltfong Jr. to provide some insight into the state of the team heading into Week 17.

Chicago Bears v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

NFL Week 17 is here! The Atlanta Falcons take on the Chicago Bears in a critical matchup for Atlanta’s slim playoff hopes and Arthur Smith’s job security entering the offseason.

Here at The Falcoholic, we like to think we keep you incredibly well-informed on all things Falcons. We’re not nearly as diligent in covering the Bears, so I’ve enlisted the help of Chicago expert Lester Wiltfong Jr. Lester is the Editor In Chief over at Windy City Gridiron, SB Nation’s site covering all things Chicago Bears.

I brought five questions to Lester on the job security of Chicago’s coaching staff, the long-term status of Justin Fields, the Montez Sweat trade, and more.

1) There’s been a ton of questions surrounding Chicago’s coaching staff, particularly head coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. With the team on a bit of a hot streak late in the season, have those conversations cooled a bit? What do Bears fans think about keeping Eberflus and/or Getsy around?

Lester Wiltfong Jr.: From the fan perspective, most of us are ready for a change at head coach, and I’d say 99% of us are ready for a new offensive coordinator. Eberflus still has support from players in this locker room, and his message still resonates. He has his defense playing good football, but his conservative nature has helped the Bears lose three games this season when they held a double-digit fourth-quarter lead. Getsy has been up and down all season, but his inability to build an offense around Justin Fields’ athleticism has been a problem. There has been far too much straight dropback and shotgun, and there needs to be more of a flow to his playcalling.

The buzz from the Bears beat makes it seem like Eberflus has a very good shot at sticking around, with these last two games carrying a lot of weight. As far as Getsy, I can’t imagine he’s shown enough for a third year.

2) The other major piece who could be on the move is quarterback Justin Fields. Obviously, Fields was a rumored target of the Falcons back in the 2021 NFL Draft (with Atlanta picking at 4), although the Falcons ultimately passed for Kyle Pitts. What’s the situation with Fields in Chicago? Is the belief that he’ll still be traded this offseason, or has he earned the opportunity to start in 2024?

LW: Fields is a popular player amongst fans, and his teammates love him, but with the Bears about to get the number one overall draft pick courtesy of the Panthers, his time may be coming to an end. It’s logical to me for the Bears to hire a new offensive-minded head coach and pair him up with a rookie quarterback, which would finally align the timeline of coach/QB in Chicago. If they fire ‘Flus, the new head coach should have a say so in his quarterback, and that likely means Fields is traded.

But if ‘Flus stays, I hope they run it back with Fields and a new and experienced offensive coordinator who understands how to mold a scheme around his players.

3) Chicago earned the ire of Falcons fans by sniping Montez Sweat with their higher second-round pick earlier this year. How big of an addition has that been to the Bears defense, and do you feel the high price (in terms of both draft compensation and salary cap) was worth it?

LW: Sweat has been huge. He’s an outstanding football player, and he makes an impact in every game. He’s still Washington’s sack leader at 6.5, and he also leads Chicago with 6 sacks. Sure, the price to get him was high (a second-round pick), but the fact that they were able to extend him a few days after the trade makes it worth it. Since his arrival, Chicago’s defense has been elevated with turnovers and sacks both on the rise. He’ll be a building block for this defense no matter who ends up coaching the unit in 2024.

4) Speaking of the Bears defense, Chicago is absolutely elite against the run. That could spell a lot of trouble for Atlanta’s run-heavy attack. What’s been the secret to Chicago’s success against the ground game?

LW: The addition of Sweat has certainly helped, but all the guys they brought in during the offseason were strong run defenders, which they needed after being one of the league’s worst run-stopping teams in 2022. Linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards are instinctive and technically sound. Defensive end DeMarcus Walker (6’4”, 280) has been good, but nose tackle Andrew Billings has been a rock on the inside. Rookie defensive tackles Gervon Dexter Sr. and Zacch Pickens have helped as well.

5) The Bears are currently 3-point home favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook. What’s your prediction for Sunday’s game?

LW: I think the Bears can win, but nothing would surprise me with how inconsistent the Bears have been. The key is in the previous question. If Chicago’s run D can make Atlanta one-dimensional, then Sweat and company will harass Taylor Heinicke into sacks and turnovers. I got the Bears winning a close one, 24 to 17, keeping their razor-thin playoff hopes alive.

Many thanks to Lester for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’re in the mood for a Bears perspective on things, follow Windy City Gridiron at @WCGridiron.

Looking for more Falcons-Bears coverage? Check out our Dirty Birds & Brews game preview show.