The Chicago Bears have their head coach. General manager Ryan Poles pulled the trigger on Matt Eberflus, whose resume of success after four seasons as the Indianapolis Colts’ defensive coordinator placed him at or near the top of most lists of coaching candidates. And while there’s no doubt Eberflus will generate excitement inside Halas Hall, there was some pushback on social media about Chicago’s decision to go with a defensive-minded coach instead of an offensive or quarterback guru. Look, I get it. The Bears’ offseason was supposed to focus on Justin Fields and everything that the team can do to make sure they don’t screw him up. Players will be added in free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft to make his job easier, but the biggest Fields-based decision was expected at head coach. Brian Daboll? Kellen Moore? Insert offensive coordinator here? It seemed like a foregone conclusion that the coach who’d replace Matt Nagy would be a quarterback whisperer. Eberflus isn’t that guy. At least, he isn’t a quarterback specialist or a coach who worked his way into the Bears’ gig by leading NFL offenses to big stats and a lot of points. In fact, he’s the exact opposite. His entire career, dating back to his days at Toledo and Missouri, has centered around defense. But that doesn’t mean Poles got it wrong. Instead, it feels like he got it exactly right. Here are four reasons why. It’s about building a winning culture first and foremost Run a Google search. Look for videos on Twitter. You’ll find plenty of examples of the kind of coach Eberflus is, and it’s infectious. He’s also the type of coach who holds players accountable, regardless of draft or free agency pedigree. That matters. It’s the cornerstone of a winning culture. “He’s very consistent with every position, with every player,” Colts coach Frank Reich told Colts reporter J.J. Stankevitz in August. “The standards are the standards and nobody’s getting special treatment. This is how we gotta play defense and so let’s hold ourselves to this standard.” Standards. Expectations. Those are important variables to a winning formula that have been missing in the Nagy era. No player on the Bears’ roster will receive ‘special treatment,’ and that’s fantastic. It’ll breed competition, and anytime there’s more competition on a practice field, the better the results will be on game day. Eberflus will get out of Justin Fields’ way The Bears spent the last four years with Nagy’s ego getting in the way of real and legitimate growth on offense. It ruined the career of Mitch Trubisky and we saw the negative impact it had on Fields, at times, in 2021. Nagy’s stubborn approach to play-calling and his irrational loyalty to his system prevented him from being objective about the Bears’ offense. That won’t happen with Eberflus. In fact, it might be a really good thing that the Bears didn’t hire an offensive coach. Instead, Eberflus will delegate that responsibility to a real and true offensive coordinator, something Chicago hasn’t legitimately had in four seasons. And if that coordinator fails at his job? Remember, standards and expectations. I’d imagine Eberflus will apply that approach to his coaching staff, too. Whoever Eberflus tabs as the Bears’ offensive coordinator will be the person with the greatest impact on Fields’ development. His quarterback coach will be, too. Eberflus will decide who those guys will be; it’ll be his first big decision as the team’s head coach. But once they’re made, he’ll trust the OC to do his job and do it well. What better way to coach a young quarterback than to enhance his understanding of defense? There’s actually a benefit to having a defensive-minded head coach lead the Bears in Fields’ second season in the league. Eberflus will be an asset when he pops into quarterback meetings. He can still coach his quarterback by helping him digest on a deeper level what the defense intends to do in certain situations. It won’t be his primary responsibility, but it’ll be one nonetheless. And who better to help Fields get a grasp on NFL defenses than one of the best defensive coaches in the league? Oftentimes, we get too narrow-minded in our evaluation of head coaching decisions. We view it in a linear fashion: it’s a defensive coach or an offensive coach. But it isn’t that simple; there’s more nuance. Eberflus is the head coach with a defensive background, and it’s a background that will make the offense better. Think of it like having a spy in the room giving intel to the team’s most valuable asset. That’s a huge advantage. Eberflus is the anti-Nagy, and that’s exactly who the Bears needed to hire Imagine, for a minute, if the Bears had hired Kellen Moore. Or Brian Daboll. Or any of the other up-and-coming offensive coordinators. Yes, it would’ve been a sexier move and the talking points would’ve been great because of the knee-jerk reaction it creates about Fields’ growth. But the Bears have been there, done that. Prior to Fields, the Bears’ biggest investment in a quarterback (in team history) was Trubisky. His first season in the league, 2017, was a promising one under coach John Fox but Chicago’s underwhelming finish that year led to a coaching change. That year, the Bears did exactly what fans wanted them to do this year: they hired Nagy with the expectation he’d rejuvenate the offense and bring the best out of Trubisky. It failed… miserably. And while it’s entirely possible that Moore or Daboll will be successful head coaches, it’s also within a range of outcomes that they’ll be Nagy, part two. The Bears can’t afford that to happen; not now, not with Fields. Eberflus is the anti-Nagy. His success or failure won’t be measured by Fields’. It’ll be measured by wins. Nagy’s inability to develop Trubisky started his slippery slope to the unemployment line, and had any of the offensive-minded candidates struggled in their effort to develop Fields next year, the narrative around the Bears would get really bad, really fast. Now, the Bears can do things the old-fashioned way. They have a quality head coach. They’ll hire a quality staff on offense. They’ll land fantastic coaches on defense. And at the end of it all, they’ll have a well-rounded coaching staff that’s better equipped to develop Fields and bring wins back to Chicago.
- Aug 22, 2022
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