Why Bears' Matt Eberflus Didn't Challenge Isaiah Coulter Catch

Eberflus explains why he didn’t challenge Coutler catch originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The preseason isn’t just for the players to install their scheme, or to fight for a roster spot, it’s for the coaches too. They work on communication, and practice various scenarios, like whether they’re going to go for it on fourth down at the 50-yard line, and whether or not to throw a challenge flag. After the Bears’ second preseason game, Matt Eberflus and his team will have to do some self-scouting in the latter department.

On a 3rd-and-8 play, from their own 33-yard line, Trevor managed to wrangle a high snap, then fire a back-foot pass to Isaiah Coulter with the Seahawks’ pass rush bearing down on him for a remarkable first down conversion. Except it was ruled incomplete.

On the TV broadcast, it looked like Coulter managed to get his arm under the ball for a good catch, giving Eberflus a chance for an easy challenge. But Eberflus let the play stand and the Bears punted.

“A couple coaches on the sideline thought it bounced on the ground,” Eberflus said. We got one good look upstairs, and that was it. We didn’t have a second look at it, so we just decided to let it go.”

It’s an understandable explanation, except the Bears took too long to make the call. They were assessed a delay of game penalty, which in turn put Trenton Gill out of range to pin the Seahawks inside their 20-yard line. Once the Bears committed the delay of game, they also squandered their chance to challenge.

Per the NFL rulebook: “A team that commits a foul that prevents the next snap can no longer challenge the previous play. The non-fouling team can still challenge the previous play, and both teams can benefit from the review.”

There were just over 10 minutes left in the second quarter at the time, so it wasn’t necessarily a moment where a coach needed to be precious about his timeouts if Eberflus wanted to give his replay team more time to find another angle. With another challenge to use, even if this one failed, it seemed a good time to drop the red flag if Eberflus didn’t want to risk burning two timeouts in one play.

“In real time, in a real game, maybe I would’ve thrown (the challenge flag),” Eberflus said. “But we didn’t have the second look.”

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