June 06, 2023


Hub Arkush: Ryan Poles, Matt Eberflus make solid first impressions

Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus, left, and general manager Ryan Poles listen to a question during a news conference, Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, at Halas Hall in Lake Forest.

LAKE FOREST – As NFL courtships go, these introductory press conferences aren’t really even a first date so much as a first meeting in an arranged marriage, but at least we got a few details out of the way Monday with new Bears general Manager Ryan Poles and new head coach Matt Eberflus.

Poles choked up several times talking about his road to Halas Hall and some of the folks that helped to pave it. He seemed guarded in the full auditorium introductory session, but he was much more comfortable once we moved to the smaller one-on-one-type settings. I think it’s fair to say even impressive with his control of the situation, his clear answers and comfort level giving them.

An offensive lineman at Boston College and a one time undrafted rookie free agent of the Bears back in 2008, Poles was asked why he chose the front office over coaching.

“I think it’s interesting to be able to change culture of a team by bringing in people that reflect that,” Poles said. “If you keep adding those same types of players on the roster, all of a sudden you are tough, you are passionate, you run hard to the ball, you’re violent, you’re fast. That, to me, it’s a really cool process, and when you see the end result, I think that is very rewarding.”

How did Poles know Eberflus was the guy to lead his team on the field?

“It was his standard,” Poles said. “He had a high standard for what he wanted out of a team and he had a plan to raise the bar in terms of what we were going to become.

“His passion for the game, his discipline, those are some of the key ingredients to get a team off the ground and headed in the right direction. And then connections to a really good staff as well. That was important. And a plan that just wasn’t short term but there was long-term thought into it as well.”

It’s my belief that ultimately what doomed Matt Nagy was his failure to become a complete head coach, which was hindered by his obsessive focus on his offense.

Eberflus will take a different approach.

Asked as a defensive guru if he’ll call the defensive signals, he appeared to have done his homework.

“I do believe that to be the head football coach and be efficient at that, you are exactly the head football coach,” Eberflus said. “So I can be involved in all aspects of the game. “The defensive coordinator we hire will call the defensive plays. I will not do that.”

I asked Poles probably the biggest question of all: is the plan to rebuild or reload?

“Yeah, absolutely, I do think we can be competitive, and the beautiful (thing) about football is what we just saw with the Bengals,” Poles said. “We all know it’s fluid on a yearly basis so we’re going to attack it. Our goal is always going to be in contention and win games.”

I asked both men if studying the talent already here was a factor in their taking the jobs and both said definitely.

Eberflus confirmed he will be switching from a base 3-4 defense to a 4-3.

So, to be sure I was hearing correctly, that they hope to compete/contend immediately, I asked Eberflus if he has the talent here to run his 4-3?

“Yes, I think so,” Eberflus said. “I coached in the 3-4 in Cleveland for two years and Dallas for two years, and it’s not hard to go that way. It’s pretty easy because when you look at the Bears or any other 3-4 structure team they (also) get into four-down (linemen) a lot. So you’re just doing it all the time.”

There was one significant topic that sounded a lot like what we heard from the last Ryan and Matt.

Both talked about immediately hitting it off and how critical their relationship with each other will be to their success.

They didn’t call it the great collaboration, but it did start to sound like déjà vu all over again.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, you just have to hope this time there’s a lot more than that to celebrate.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is the Senior Bears Analyst for Shaw Local News Network and ShawLocal.com.