Bears aiming to build better discipline by working with officials

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Before the Bears took the practice field to begin veteran minicamp last Tuesday at Halas Hall, coach Matt Eberflus called upon a few visitors in their team meeting.

NFL referee Craig Wrolstad and his officiating crew were introduced to the Bears by Eberflus as they prepared to spend two days with the team at Halas Hall.

“Use the wealth of knowledge that we have in front of us,” Eberflus told the players as he introduced Wrolstad and his crew.

A 20-year NFL official, Wrolstad and his crew sat with the Bears in their position group meetings. They were available to answer questions for players. They then took their places on the practice field and officiated each play.

Eberflus encouraged the Bears to utilize the officials as a resource to improve, and he pointed to previous results in explaining why he feels that's important. While Eberflus worked as the Colts’ defensive coordinator for the past four seasons, Indianapolis improved from one of the most-penalized teams in the NFL to one of the least. Colts coach Frank Reich would also welcome officiating crews in for practice.

In 2021, the Colts were called for just 76 penalties on the season. That was the third-fewest in the NFL and well below the league average of 100.5 penalties per team. By comparison, the Bears were the 13th-most penalized team with 106 on the season. The Colts had the fourth-most penalties (120) during Reich’s first season in 2018.

The Bears plan to welcome back an NFL officiating crew during training camp along with a Big Ten crew. The presence of officials will become increasingly important as the Bears practice at full contact for the first time and focus on increasing their speed while maintaining proper technique.

Eberflus envisions playing with discipline as part of the Bears' new culture. It’s why he feels these details are important.

“We believe in that,” Eberflus said. “We believe in not beating ourselves and doing things the right way.”

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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