I’ve been wondering something all offseason.
How much do we know about Matt Eberflus? And how important is he in the grand scheme of the 2023 season and beyond?
Then something amazing happened at Halas Hall the other day.
“Can you guys hear me OK? Coach Flus here, head football coach of your Chicago Bears.”
How many times over the course of the 100-plus years of the franchise do you think the head coach had to introduce himself to a crowd there to watch Bears football?
In an offseason full of lists of important Bears, impactful Bears, Bears on the spot, why do we barely scratch the surface on the the head coach? We know Bears president Kevin Warren is setting a new team culture and is looking for a new stadium site. General manager Ryan Poles is the architect, quarterback Justin Fields the focus of everything of everyone everywhere, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy calls the plays and develops Fields, and Alan Williams calls the defense.
Even longtime equipment czar Tony Medlin may be more recognizable than “coach Flus.”
Do the Bears even need Eberflus to be good at his job to be a great team?
The answer is, of course!
Truth is, in 2023, if you’re not an offensive-minded NFL head coach, your name is never going to be front and center on the marquee. Andy Reid, Sean Payton, Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are all offensive geniuses.
Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin aren’t offensive guys, but they’re over-the-top personalities.
And Bill Belichick is simply the GOAT.
Think more Sean McDermott with Eberflus.
McDermott was Ron Rivera’s defensive coordinator in Carolina and then became a fairly nondescript head coach in Buffalo. Brian Daboll oversaw the Josh Allen renaissance, Brandon Beane constructed the roster, Leslie Frazier called the defense, while ownership took on a new stadium project. Sound familiar?
I did learn a few things about Eberflus in 2022 other than his disdain for giving injury updates, a great head of hair and an even sweeter golf game.
I know he inherited one of the least talented rosters in Bears history, but rarely did his team not compete and stay in games. Even after trading Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn, nobody quit despite a ton of adversity. Eberflus even got undrafted Jack Sanborn playing comparable football to Smith, a position he used to coach.
Then there’s his Property Brothers-like fix-it ability. Instead of trashing players who find themselves in the doghouse or coming off a bad season, Eberflus has the ability to build that player back up.
Guys such as Jaylon Johnson and Teven Jenkins weren’t even drafted by Poles/Eberflus and quickly found themselves falling out of favor in training camp a year ago. It would’ve been easy to say they’re former GM Ryan Pace’s guys and move them out. Instead, Eberflus got them playing really good football.
The same thing happened with Eddie Jackson after a terrible 2021 season. Jackson was given a clean slate by Eberflus, and now he’s a team leader.
Eberflus enables players rather than tearing them down. He’ll give them tough love, but will allow them to find a road back to his good graces. Easier said than done with coaches who think they have all the answers.
As I watched practice Wednesday, Eberflus’ defense played with a swagger similar to how Lovie Smith had his guys going before a breakout 2005 season. I’m not expecting similar results, although the addition of free agent defensive end Yannick Ngakoue adds a productive rusher like the Bears did not have on their roster. The defense seems to be building an identity.
Now, what will Eberflus’ ultimate identity be? If he wins, he won’t have to introduce himself to any crowd in Chicago anywhere. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.
• Marc Silverman shares his opinions on the Bears weekly for Shaw Local. Tune in and listen to the “Waddle & Silvy” show weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m. on ESPN 1000.