Bears fire running backs coach David Walker, leaving Eberflus down 2 assistants
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears fired running backs coach David Walker on Wednesday, leaving coach Matt Eberflus down two assistants after defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned in September and raising more questions about the team's culture.
Walker was in his second season with the Bears. He was hired after Eberflus replaced Matt Nagy following the 2021 season.
“As the head coach, we are building a program,” Eberflus said. “We have standards to uphold as a staff and organization both on and off the field. And those standards were not met.”
The Bears are last in the NFC North at 2-6 and 5-20 in two seasons under Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles.
They lost 14 consecutive games before winning at Washington in Week 5. They play this week in a stadium where they haven't come out on top since 1991 when they visit New Orleans, though they did beat the Saints in Baton Rouge, La., in 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina.
They'll again have Tyson Bagent, an undrafted rookie from a Division II school, at quarterback with Justin Fields injured and they'll be down two assistants.
As bad as all that looks, Eberflus was adamant the Bears have the right culture.
“The culture in our building is outstanding,” he said. “The guys work hard every single day. The relationship piece is there. We care about each other. We’re working diligently to get this thing turned. We’re 2-2 in our last four. One game was real close, we had a chance at that one. We really feel we’re turning the corner there, and we are excited about this week. But to answer your question, our culture is awesome.”
Eberflus offered few details about Walker’s situation, declining to say if his dismissal was for behavioral reasons and if it had anything to do with his coaching ability. He also would not say if he felt blindsided by Walker’s situation or the one involving Williams, who resigned Sept. 20, saying he needed to “take care of my health and my family.”
Poles seemed to shed a little more light on why Walker was dismissed.
“If you don’t meet those expectations of how you move around this building and how you treat people, how you talk to people, how you act, you don’t belong here,” Poles said.
“So the alternative is you do nothing and you just kind of brush it under the rug and you’re cool with that, which we’re not. Or you act accordingly to make sure that your culture is strong.”
Eberflus did say there were no red flags during the phone calls and interviews leading up to Walker’s hiring. He also said the Bears “take pride” in their vetting process.
Poles, meanwhile, had strong praise for his coach.
“What I see every day, where I see him address the team and I see his approach through adversity, it is stable, man,” he said. “And I know in the outside world it doesn’t look like that. And I know it looks like we’re far away. But this dude comes in every day and just keeps chipping away. He has high integrity. The people that he brings in here, he’s done the work to make sure that they’re the people they’re supposed to be. Again, we hold that standard. If it doesn’t follow that and people aren’t acting that way, they’re not here.”
The Bears led the NFL in rushing last season with a franchise-record 3,014 yards behind quarterback Justin Fields (1,143 yards) and running backs David Montgomery (801) and Khalil Herbert (731). They are sixth in the league this season even though Montgomery signed with Detroit in March and Herbert and rookie Roschon Johnson have dealt with injuries.
Eberflus took over defensive play-calling duties when Williams stepped down. The Bears eventually hired former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Phil Snow as a defensive analyst in mid-October.
With Walker out, assistant quarterbacks and wide receivers coach Omar Young takes over as running backs coach. He has worked with running backs in previous stops at the NFL and college levels.
Besides raising more questions about what exactly is going on at Halas Hall, Walker’s dismissal steered attention away from the trade Chicago made with Washington for pass rusher Montez Sweat on Tuesday. Throw in the Bears dealing receiver Chase Claypool to Miami on Oct. 6, and it has been a chaotic season.
“We’re all disappointed," Eberflus said. "It’s never good when this has to happen. Certainly a disappointment. But I do know this, adversity does make you stronger in your personal life, in your team life, it does make you stronger. It’s just how you come through it. It’s how you respond to it.”
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL
Updated November 1, 2023