Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Matt Eberflus Finally Confirms A Prominent Roquan Smith Rumor


The Roquan Smith situation has come to the forefront for the Chicago Bears. After the end of last season, it was apparent he’d become the best player on their defense. He’s made All-Pro twice already and is on pace to enter the Hall of Fame conversation before his 30th birthday. He wants a new contract and is preparing to sit out practices to get it. That is understandable. However, a few things are complicating the process. One is the fact he has no agent representing him. Another is the position he plays. After four years as a 3-4 inside linebacker, nobody knows where Smith will play in the Bears’ new 4-3 system. Thankfully head coach Matt Eberflus provided clarity.

He was asked on Mully & Haugh for 670 The Score that the traditional key linebacker spot in this defense is the weak side (WILL) spot. Yet, given his experience, some figured Smith might stay put at middle linebacker instead. Eberflus stated in no uncertain terms that the 25-year-old would be moving to the outside. He feels Smith’s skill set is an excellent fit for the Will position, and the two have already discussed it.

This shouldn’t be a surprise.

The Tampa-2 defense that Eberflus runs traces its origins to the 1990s with Tony Dungy. History says the best linebacker on the team is the weak outside guy. It was Derrick Brooks in Tampa Bay under Dungy, Lance Briggs in Chicago under Lovie Smith, and Darius Leonard in Indianapolis under Eberflus himself. Smith is easily the best linebacker on the team.

It comes down to how he handles the transition. He’s played inside linebacker since his days at Georgia. There is a significant difference between that and a 4-3 outside linebacker—different responsibilities and assignments. There might be an adjustment period for him. Still, his immense talent and intelligence should make it a short one.

Matt Eberflus deserves trust for making this call.

If there is one position he knows inside and out as a coach, it’s linebackers. He played the position himself in high school and college. Then he coached it for years for the Dallas Cowboys. He’s seen somebody make the successful transition from inside to outside before. Sean Lee did it back in the early 2010s. He was an excellent middle linebacker in 2013. Then when he returned from a torn ACL in 2015, he made the Pro Bowl as an outside linebacker.

Smith is every bit as capable as Lee ever was. Even more so. It won’t be a surprise if he’s as good or even better than last year when the dust settles. Matt Eberflus and his staff have a plan in place. They know what they’re doing. The interesting part is figuring out when Smith will actually practice.

His contract situation makes that difficult to know.

Then there is the rest of the linebacking corp. If he plays the Will position, that likely means Nicholas Morrow is their middle linebacker. That would be a first for him as well. It is clear that Eberflus isn’t afraid to do some experimenting if he feels it’s putting players in the best position to succeed.


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Jul 29, 2022 9:48 am

Urlacher was a slightly better version than Zach Thomas. Tackles: ZT-1734 BU-1361, Sacks: ZT-20.5 BU-41.5, INTs: ZT-17 BU-22, FF: ZT-16 BU-11

Jul 28, 2022 9:17 am

The best is always speculative based upon personal thought and so-called game numbers which never take into account the assist actions of fellow players allowing certain players to achieve, over-achieve, or under-achieve.

Jul 27, 2022 10:24 pm

Let’s not bring race into this man. We have enough trouble as it is. I’m not a racist, and I do not appreciate being called one! This is my football option and that’s it.

Jul 27, 2022 6:54 pm

Not too long ago, Urlacher talked about when Lovie became the coach he wasn't all in on Urlacher and wanted to trade him. He drafted Briggs for his defense and left Brian in the middle. He didn't know what he had. Briggs is in the Hall of Very Good because he fit the scheme and was a good player. Urlacher is the reason why he is in the conversation of HOF.

Jul 27, 2022 5:39 pm

Ya. I don’t understand that point in the article. Brian Urlacher was the best linebacker on the Bears during Lovie Smiths time. No matter what spot he played he would still be the fastest, cover, etc. Briggs was good, but not Urlacher good

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