The Chicago Bears have been anything but predictable since George McCaskey took over as team chairman in 2011. In that time, he has made three different GM hires, and four different head coaching hires. Of those seven decisions, none of them were could’ve been called predictable when they happened. This was especially true on the coaching front. CFL legend Marc Trestman in 2013. John Fox just three years later. The relatively inexperienced Matt Nagy in 2018. Now he pulled a swerve once again by allowing GM Ryan Poles to secure Matt Eberflus as the 17th head coach in team history.
The shock wasn’t due to the man himself being undeserving. Eberflus has consistently been one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL since 2018. His unit finished top 10 overall in three of the past four seasons. It was more his background. He is a defensive guy and has been for 30 years. Defense is his specialty. Considering how vital it is for the Bears to develop Justin Fields moving forward, many expected another offensive-oriented head coach.
That includes insiders Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano.
The ESPN tandem covered the Bears search for weeks. Even they were surprised when Eberflus was the choice, believing the team would opt for somebody more experienced. Combine that with the defensive background, and it was pretty puzzling for them. That might explain why their grades for the hire were somewhat lukewarm. While intrigued by the coach himself, they fear he isn’t what the team needed.
“Fowler: B-. This is an understated hire — solid but not overly exciting. And that’s OK. Eberflus might turn out to be great. If you’re looking for a home run plan around Fields, this probably isn’t it. But Eberflus is a good chemistry guy who should engender trust rather quickly.
Graziano: C+. Similar to Hackett in Denver, it’s impossible to know whether the guy is a head coach — and we will all find out together. Eberflus’ reputation is strong, and the Bears obviously saw something they liked. But I’d still feel better about it if either the GM or the coach weren’t doing this for the first time.”
Both men came away with the same assessment. What they’ve heard about Eberflus is a incredibly detailed and organized coach. He will run a tight ship and hold his players accountable. The one fear they have is whether he has a plan for Fields. In truth, that bias showed in their grades for every other head coach hire with a defensive background this cycle—Lovie Smith in Houston and Dennis Allen in New Orleans.
Matt Eberflus seems to have a plan for Fields
That was evident from the moment he got the job. There was no deliberation about who he might hire as offensive coordinator. Eberflus knew who he wanted. That was Green Bay Packers passing game coordinator Luke Getsy. The Bears’ coach had done his research on the man and was impressed. Not only with his track record of innovation but also his reputation for being an excellent teacher.
Getsy made his agenda clear from the start. The scheme isn’t what matters most with Fields. It is finding out what the young quarterback does best and crafting the offense around those strengths. It’s about the players, not the plays. Matt Nagy and his staff seemed to miss a simple and profound concept during their four years running the show. Matt Eberflus is already showing he sees things differently.
The truth is nobody knows what he will be.
Good head coaches continue to come from just about any background. The reality is different for all the talk about offensive specialists for so many years. In the past 10 years, the Super Bowl was won five times by offensive coaches and five times by defensive coaches. If Eberflus is good, his background won’t matter. The Bears will end up winning a lot of football games.