For four years, Matt Eberflus worked under Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich, and for four years Reich had a front-row seat watching a man who felt like he was destined to be a head coach “from day one.”
That vision materialized over the last week. The Bears hired Eberflus, the former Colts defensive coordinator, to become their 17th head coach in team history.
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Reich believes Eberflus has been preparing for this for years. Eberflus became the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis in 2018, expecting to work under Josh McDaniels. Eberflus had already signed his contract when McDaniels had a change of heart. When the Colts later hired Reich as head coach, he teamed up with Eberflus, a coach he didn’t know at the time.
“There was a real quick connection,” Reich said. “[We’re] both very principle-centered, family-oriented, obviously love everything about ball. Both connected on a faith basis, different ways of expressing that. I’m maybe a little bit louder about that than Flus would be, but the commonality there was really good. I think we were both very process oriented.”
Eberflus believes in his process. Fans heard him during his introductory press conference Monday introducing his H.I.T.S. principle. His defenses lived by the acronym and his Bears teams will to.
Hustle. Intensity. Taking care of the ball. Situational smarts.
Bears players are going to be hearing about that a lot.
“Let me just tell you, man, he eats sleeps, drinks, bleeds that in every aspect,” Reich said. “So those are the standards. Those are the standards. Everything is going to be measured up against those things, and it’s going to be very clear to the players what this H.I.T.S. principal is all about.”
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Sure, maybe it’s gimmicky. But his Colts defenses produced. They ranked in the top 10 (or tied for 10th) in takeaways in all four of his years as Colts defensive coordinator.
Reich believes Eberflus’ players bought in because they could see the results on tape. Gang tackling and punching at the ball led to turnovers. Not every time, but if a defense does it again and again, it’s bound to result in a fumble.
“Those will be the foundational pieces that we can measure, and I’m excited about getting to work with the coaches,” Eberflus said Monday.
The Bears still have a lot of hiring to do. Eberflus’ staff currently consists of only offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. He will need about a dozen more coaches to fill out his complete staff before he can start executing a plan for individual players.
Eberflus plans to take a broad approach to head coaching. He won’t call defensive plays. He will be involved in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams. After four years of offense-focused Matt Nagy, this is a good change for the Bears.
How Eberflus juggles those responsibilities will go a long way toward determining if he is a successful NFL head coach.
“It’s a big job, right?” Reich said. “It’s too much for one person. You have to hire people that you believe in and you trust. And then you have to be willing to delegate and empower people to carry out the vision. It’s not going to be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. You have to have patience.”