Sunday, August 14, 2022

Colts Players Are Not Happy Matt Eberflus Is Gone


Matt Eberflus made an interesting first impression when he stepped in front of the Chicago Bears media earlier this week. He didn’t make any grandiose speeches. All he promised was one thing. Players on his team were going to work, and they would be held to a high standard. There would be no “loafing” on his watch. This is according to his H.I.T.S philosophy. Hustle. Intensity. Takeaways. Smarts.

Such preaching was met with many eye rolls from some in the Bears beat. Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times was one of them. A notorious skeptic, he refused to believe actual football players bought into something so hokey. That is why he reached out to several Indianapolis Colts defenders. Less to learn about Eberflus and more to get validation that they were finally free of the man’s supposedly outdated approach. Lieser learned fast that his assumptions were wildly inaccurate.

“No, I’ll miss it,” said Colts inside linebacker Darius Leonard. “That H.I.T.S. principle made me who I am.”

He did everything for me,” Leonard said. “He taught me the game, especially as a rookie, going in early in the morning and having a walk-through with just him and Borgonzi, learning the playbook and stuff like that. I’ve got athletic ability, but he put the game plan up.”

Leonard added, “When he gets on the field, he demands absolutely everything out of his guys… In the press conference, he’ll do what he needs to do, but then he’ll go into the locker room and demand excellence. That’s what you need.”

Strange how that works.

The head coach is better at coaching football than at press conferences. Another reminder that people put way too much stock into what a guy says in front of the cameras. Eberflus proved that he could get the most out of NFL players across four years. Leonard was a 2nd round pick in 2018. There were genuine questions about him at the time. A few months later, he was named All-Pro.

Former undrafted free agent cornerback Kenny Moore II became a Pro Bowler thanks to Eberflus. Denico Autry, another former undrafted player, had 10.5 sacks during his first four years in Oakland. In three years with Eberflus, he had 20. There are several examples to draw on. The man gets the most from his players. So scoff at the H.I.T.S principal if you want. Players swear by it. Why? Because it works.

Matt Eberflus will do what Nagy couldn’t. Root out the weak

Over the final two years of Nagy’s run as head coach, it often became apparent several players were giving less than total commitment to winning at times. They weren’t outright not trying, but it often felt like they were holding back. Allen Robinson is a good example this past season. Eddie Jackson is another. They got away with it because their head coach didn’t know how to hold players (or anybody else) accountable.

That isn’t going to fly with Matt Eberflus. This man expects “maximum effort” on every single snap. If you aren’t ready to give that, then it is a safe bet you won’t see the field on Sundays. One example is Hassan Ridgeway. The young defensive tackle had a decent second year in 2017, notching three sacks. Most figured he’d get more action when Eberflus arrived the following year. Instead, he appeared in just five games. The primary reasoning wasn’t injuries, which indicates the coach wasn’t impressed with his effort.

He was proven correct too as Ridgeway hasn’t done much since.

The H.I.T.S principals are just about running a defensive scheme at a high level. It is a great way to separate the strong from the weak. Teams don’t win championships by fielding weak-minded players. Eberflus is about to determine how many on this Bears roster deserve to wear that uniform.

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