Monday, June 10, 2024

Matt Eberflus Revealed Why He Was The One Who Pushed For Kevin Byard

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The Chicago Bears made two notable additions in free agency this past spring. Most focused on the arrival of running back D’Andre Swift, but one of his teammates arrived first. That was safety Kevin Byard. It was somewhat of a surprise. GM Ryan Poles usually doesn’t shell out significant money for players going into their 30s. The former All-Pro turns 31 in August. There were plenty of younger options on the market. Why him? The answer to that question is a simple one. Head coach Matt Eberflus pushed for it.

It had become clear Eddie Jackson wasn’t the same player he’d been a few years ago. The foot injury he suffered in 2022 seemed to linger last season. Chicago realized they couldn’t trust his durability, and his bloated contract didn’t help. In searching for a replacement, Eberflus needed some key traits. He wanted ball skills, athleticism, range, durability, and, above all, leadership. The head coach explained that Byard exemplified all of these characteristics. They’ve already been showing up in practice.

He’s special, just in terms of a leader. People respect him just because of the man he is, and he’s been a devoted guy to this game for a long time. You can really feel that. That’s palpable. You can feel the love of the game that he has. He’s very respectful. He’s like a coach on the field. He’s got really good ball-hawking ability. That’s why I like him a lot.”

Matt Eberflus isn’t breaking new ground here.

Signing older players for experience and leadership purposes isn’t anything new. People thought Charles Woodson was done when Green Bay signed him in 2006. He was 30 years old that season. He’d go on to four more Pro Bowls, win a Defensive Player of the Year, and a Super Bowl. The point is there is no telling when a player will fall off the proverbial cliff. Byard has enough talent to suggest he has at least two more good years in him. If he can even come close to the All-Pro level he was a few years ago, the signing will have been more than worth it.

The best part is that he’s in a defensive scheme that fits his talents. Matt Eberflus’ Tampa-2 system is built around safeties who excel at attacking the football. Jackson had four interceptions in 2022 before his injury. Mike Brown and Chris Harris both thrived in it during Lovie Smith’s run in the 2000s. Byard might be better than all of them. He’s smart, instinctive, athletic, and knows exactly where to be on every play. If he stays healthy, it could be a big year for him.

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Dr. Steven Sallie
Dr. Steven Sallie
Jun 10, 2024 3:08 pm

Byard was a good selection. If the other four DBs do their jobs out on the field, then Byard will have the luxury of an even bigger year than we can currently imagine.

TGena
TGena
Jun 10, 2024 7:37 am

Nice to know that we have “good collaboration” — just like the last set of Ryan and Matt.

Now if Eberflus would only “play GM” one or two more times and get some adequate help for the Bears interior O-line.

Caleb says, “Thanks!”

Tred
Tred
Jun 10, 2024 5:34 am

Good. Give Eberflus the players he wants to run his defense as he prefers. It’s the best way to learn what sort of coach he really is.

Byron
Byron
Jun 10, 2024 5:22 am

When E-Jax came out with the attitude and comment about not tackling, I lost all respect for him. The last few years he hung back, avoiding tackles and looking for errant QB throws he could catch for an interception to pad his stats. Byard might be old but at least he still realizes the value of coverage and tackling in a game I used to call tackle football. You know the one without flags.

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