Matt Eberflus insisted the Chicago Bears won't shut down quarterback Justin Fields for the remaining two games.
Fields was hobbling at the end of Saturday's 35-13 loss to the Buffalo Bills after someone stepped on his foot. His nonthrowing, left shoulder — the same one he separated last month — also bothered him during the game.
But Eberflus said Monday sitting him the rest of the way is “absolutely not" a consideration.
“Because we’ve got to get better,” the coach said. “We want to improve. We want to see where we are. These last two games matter. They’re division opponents to us, very important to our football team to see the competition, to see guys compete against our division. I think it’s important for each man, it’s important for each unit and it’s important for our whole football team.”
The Bears (3-12) matched the 1978 and 2002 teams for the franchise record with their eighth straight loss. It will be all theirs if Detroit beats them Sunday.
Chicago also has a shot at the No. 1 pick in the draft. The only team with a worse record is Houston (2-12-1), which the Bears beat in Week 3.
It's probably not the way Eberflus envisioned his first year going. But he and general manager Ryan Poles knew they had a big rebuilding job when they were hired after last season.
Eberflus also sees long-term value in finishing with five wins instead of three. The team has come up short late in some close games, and he sees learning how to finish as part of the development.
“To me, these next two games are just about that," he said. “Being able to execute in those game-defining moments, those plays that matter and getting it done. And to me, that’s important going forward to the future.”
Kickoff returns. One bright spot against Buffalo was on special teams. Velus Jones Jr. returned four kickoffs for 113 yards, including a 40-yarder in the first quarter.
Run defense. Not a good day for the defensive line in general. The Bears sacked Allen just once and allowed the Bills to run wherever they wanted. Chicago gave up a season-high 8.2 yards per attempt and let Buffalo run for 254 yards in all. The Bills just missed having two 100-yard rushers after none hit triple digits in their first 14 games. Devin Singletary ran for 106 yards, James Cook added 99 — and both ran for long TDs in the third quarter to help Buffalo come out on top.
CB Kyler Gordon. The second-round draft pick from Washington has three interceptions this season and one in each of the past two games after missing the previous two because of a concussion. He picked off Allen in the end zone early in the second quarter when the quarterback tried to hit Isaiah McKenzie in double coverage and returned it 36 yards to the 34.
RB David Montgomery. The Bears needed more from Montgomery with the Bills containing Fields by keeping him in the pocket and giving him no room to run. Montgomery ran for 62 yards on 16 attempts, with a shaky and short-handed line not making it any easier. The Bears were missing right guard Teven Jenkins (neck) and left guard Cody Whitehair (knee). Khalil Herbert — averaging 6 yards per attempt coming in — had just 7 yards on six carries after missing four games because of a hip injury.
Eberflus is optimistic the Bears will get some combination of Jenkins, Whitehair and WR Chase Claypool (knee) back this week.
80 — The Bears, who lead the league in rushing, just missed a season low with 80 yards. They had 43 yards on five carries on their game-opening touchdown drive, then stalled the rest of the way. Chicago had 78 yards rushing in a Week 5 loss at Minnesota.
The Bears get somewhat of a breather when they visit Detroit on Sunday after facing two of the NFL's best teams the past two weeks — Philadelphia and Buffalo. The Lions won 31-30 at Soldier Field in Week 10.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL