Rod Marinell has coached football since 1973. He’s seen great success in that long, decorated career, including a Super Bowl ring in 2001. The man has worked under some excellent head coaches, including Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden, and Lovie Smith. So he has a good understanding of what successful ones are supposed to look like. That is what made his comments about Matt Eberflus so encouraging.
The 72-year-old spent four seasons with the Chicago Bears from 2009 to 2012, the last three as their defensive coordinator. He then spent the next seven years with the Dallas Cowboys, and he had Eberflus as his linebackers coach. The new Bears head coach views him as a mentor, which is why he invited Marinelli to come to speak to the team this past week. The longtime veteran got to see how his former understudy runs his own ship.
He came away impressed.
Marinelli had a conversation on Parkin & Spiegel for 670 The Score, where they asked him about his impressions. He said that Eberflus has already circumvented one of the biggest pitfalls for any new head coach. That is not showing favoritism for any side of the ball. Some coaches gravitate to offense, and others to defense. Matt Nagy was that way. Not Eberflus. Though he’s a defensive guy by nature, he hasn’t let that cloud his responsibilities to everyone.
“It’s an effort-based team. Everything is based off of effort. Matt is terrific like that. He has, I think, done a terrific job being a HEAD coach and overseeing everything. Sometimes you just get one side of the ball and you never capture the morale of the whole team, the special teams, everything. To play like that as a team, the head coach has to be visible to everybody, be on top of it for everybody, and he’s the guy that sets the standards.”
Eberflus himself confirms his efforts to do this.
He makes sure to sit in on various offensive meetings as often as possible, especially quarterback Justin Fields. While he doesn’t try to micromanage everything, he wants to ensure he can give whatever input and lets everybody know he’s watching. This goes back to his underlying message. This team has a standard and every player is expected to meet it, regardless of what side of the ball they play on. Marinelli pointed this out as being a significant strength.
“One key thing to do, which I see they’re doing, is you teach a system and then be demanding. It’s got to be under duress. As much as you can make it. The speed, and then the habits you want. Once that starts to be created, now you go to (training) camp and each man at least has got the tools to go compete. So it’s teaching and the head coach having that complete view of what you want your team to look like.”
Rod Marinelli knows this exact approach works.
That is because he’s seen it done already in two different locations. Tony Dungy had it during his first head coaching stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and basically built the foundation for their eventual Super Bowl win in 2002. Then Marinelli saw Lovie Smith do the same thing in Chicago. Both ran the same type of defense Eberflus does. So it’s not a coincidence they all approach head coaching similarly.
If that trend holds, and it should, then the Bears are in great hands with Eberflus. He will teach players everything they need to know about being great and then demand the necessary effort to reach those achievements. Those not willing to meet the standard won’t be around long. With enough time and energy, this team can compete with anybody on Sundays.
Rod Marinelli can already see it coming. Fans must try to have patience. This system can work. They must let Eberflus set the standard.