Matt Eberflus is a defensive head coach. He hasn’t hidden from that fact. This is why many people are skeptical of what he can do for Justin Fields. Typical thinking says the team should’ve hired an offensive-minded guy who could tap into how the young quarterback thinks. Considering Marc Trestman and Matt Nagy were their last such attempts at this approach, it isn’t surprising they went with Eberflus.
Don’t be fooled, though. The 51-year-old has coached for 30 years. He’s seen how multiple different head coach handled the quarterback position in that time. So when he arrived in Chicago, he felt he had a good plan in mind to help Fields take the next step forward. It starts with the new scheme being implemented by offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, a version of the famed wide zone system popularized by the Shanahan family, Gary Kubiak, and Sean McVay.
During a call on The Rich Eisen Show, he offered more interesting details.
It sounds like the Bears’ plan is straightforward and simple. They aim to help protect Fields through a series of upticks in play usage. They want to run the ball to help set up more play action, get more quick passes going, and work the screen game more often. That might sound superficial but it’s not. Think about this. Of the 270 passes Fields threw last season, only 22 of them were screens. That is 8.14%. Conversely, Patrick Mahomes threw 108 screens on his 658 attempts or 16.41%.
Play action? That wasn’t much better. Despite being a run-heavy team most of last year, Fields utilized play action on 31.11% of his drop-backs. Mahomes did so on 36.93%. If people are wondering why the Chiefs quarterback is so great, part of it is because their coaching staff does a great job of protecting him through scheming. This should illustrate how bad Matt Nagy was last season at helping the rookie.
Matt Eberflus doesn’t aim to make the same mistakes. The Bears may not have the star talent they need on offense yet, but he feels a better scheme can be of major benefit to Fields this year.