LAKE FOREST, Ill. — On a day that was supposed to be about the arrival of new defensive end Montez Sweat, Bears coach Matt Eberflus took the podium Wednesday at Halas Hall and announced the firing of running backs coach David Walker.
“So David Walker, supported by [general manager Ryan Poles], [CEO Kevin Warren] “We made the decision this morning to relieve our running backs coach, Coach Walker, of his duties,” Eberflus said. Organization on and off the field, and those standards were not met.”
Walker is the second member of the Eberflus coaching staff to leave since the start of the season. Defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned “for personal reasons,” but subsequent reporting by ESPN’s Adam Schefter indicated that Williams’ departure was due to unacceptable business conduct and was “non-criminal.”
The Bears fired Walker due to human resources issues, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago. Al Riyadi newspaper was the first to publish the news.
When Eberflus was hired as head coach, he envisioned himself as CEO. With two coaches he has evaluated and vetted, he is now leaving for not meeting the standards, and the responsibility falls on Eberflus.
“Like I said, it’s disappointing from my perspective,” Eberflus said of Walker’s dismissal. “But we have a standard that must be held to. And when that standard is not met, we act. And we act accordingly, and that’s what we did today.”
“I would say the responsibility is there because I’m the head football coach,” Eberflus later said when asked about his culpability in the coaching trouble cases. “I would also say that the criteria has to be met, right? And when it’s not met, you have to make a decision. We did that.”
When asked if he felt he misevaluated Walker and Williams, Eberflus evaded.
“We take pride in that,” Eberflus said of the screening. “Actions are actions and we have to take action.”
Eberflus said there were no signs of these issues with Walker when he was hired and he felt they did the right thing when hiring him to staff.
“I would just say when you look at things, you have to make sure you look at everything, and I think we did that,” Eberflus said. “I know we did. Again, this is a process where something happened, and we take action on it. And I actually… how we all came together to do that, that was good.”
Eberflus is proud of the culture he creates in Chicago. Despite staff turmoil and poor evaluation of Walker and Williams, Eberflus maintains the culture is solid.
“Absolutely not,” Eberflus said when asked if the Bears had a culture problem. “The culture in our building is great. Men work hard every day. The relationship piece is there. We care about each other. We’re working hard to turn this thing around.
“Our culture is amazing.”
Throughout the 11-minute press conference, Eberflus kept pointing to the Bears’ 2-2 record over the past four weeks as evidence that things are on the right track despite the obvious imbalance.
When pressed on whether he felt this was a good day for the organization, Eberflus admitted he was frustrated by the issues that led to Walker’s firing.
“We’re all disappointed. It’s never a good thing for this to happen. Definitely a disappointment,” Eberflus said. “But I do know this. Adversity makes you stronger in your personal life, and in your collective life, it makes you stronger. It’s how you overcome it. It’s how you respond.”
Despite the issues with Walker, Eberflus insists he has not lost the trust of his players or staff.
“I think trust is stronger because we are taking action,” Eberflus said. It’s called taking responsibility and moving forward. Player, coach, employee. It doesn’t matter.:
Omar Young will take over Walker’s role as running backs coach as the Bears prepare to face the New Orleans Saints in Week 9.
Eberflus left the podium on Wednesday after asking just two questions about Bears trade deadline acquisition Montez Sweat and zero about the status of quarterback Justin Fields or the future of cornerback Jaylon Johnson.
This tells you everything you need to know about the state of the process driven by Eberflus.
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