Arkush: Eberflus hire signals the Bears want to return to their roots

  • FILE - Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is shown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. Matt Eberflus is the new coach of the Chicago Bears, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press, tasked with turning around a franchise mired in mediocrity for much of the past decade. The person confirmed the move to the AP on condition of anonymity Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, because there had been no announcement by the Bears.

    FILE - Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is shown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. Matt Eberflus is the new coach of the Chicago Bears, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press, tasked with turning around a franchise mired in mediocrity for much of the past decade. The person confirmed the move to the AP on condition of anonymity Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, because there had been no announcement by the Bears. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/27/2022 8:40 PM

Maybe it's just me, but Matt Eberflus -- get it right, people, it's pronounced EE-bur-floos -- has a Bears ring to it.

And it's more than just the sound of his name. His predominant specialty over the course of a 29-year coaching career has been working with linebackers, a position the Bears have owned for decades.

 

His last two teams, the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys, were built on outstanding offensive lines, running the football and playing great defense.

Two of his greatest influences have been Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli, two of the most influential defensive coaches of the last few decades, and he has been a student of the Tampa 2 defense, Kiffin's and Lovie Smith's scheme of choice the last time the Bears were relevant.

None of that assures his success, nor is he married to playing any particular schemes on either side of the ball once he arrives; it just makes him a very comfortable fit.

If the arrival of Matt Nagy trumpeted ringing out the old and welcoming the new highflying offensive schemes of the day, the Eberflus hire says the Chicago Bears want to return to their roots.

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The fit with rookie general manager Ryan Poles, who at 36 is one of the youngest top executives in the game, is interesting and eclectic.

As director of college scouting in Kansas City from 2016-18, and then as assistant or director of player personnel from 2019 until a few days ago, if Poles' focus has been anywhere, it's been on building the most explosive offense in the NFL. Even if, at the time, it came at the expense of a top defense.

Obviously it is now incumbent on Eberflus and Poles to be the best they can on both sides of the ball, and they certainly bring a wide range of skills to the table.

Matt Nagy proved to be a strong leader. The hallmark of his Bears teams was his defense, while he failed in part because he focused too much on his obsession with his offense, which he couldn't get right even though it was supposed to be his strength.

Just because Eberflus comes from the other side of the ball doesn't mean he can't oversee an outstanding offense.

He is here because of Poles' and George McCaskey's belief in his ability to lead and win with his whole team, not just one side of the ball or the other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Nagy succeeded on defense because he hired outstanding assistant coaches, including Vic Fangio and Chuck Pagano. Even the early returns on Sean Desai were very promising.

Which leads to the $64,000 question: Who does Eberflus have in mind for his offensive staff and, most importantly, his offensive coordinator, quarterback and offensive line coaches?

Is there an offensive comp to a Fangio or Pagano waiting out there?

No, but could the next best thing could be Jason Garrett, Eberflus' boss in Dallas?

I'm not saying he's my choice, but the fit is obvious. Dak Prescott presented the same challenges, if not more, as Justin Fields, and how did Garrett do with him?

If you want a prediction on how this works out, I can't help you. We'll just have to wait and see.

What we do know now, though, is, with the process complete, you have to be at least somewhat optimistic with the end results of the search by George McCaskey and company.

Had it ended as many thought it would with Morocco Brown and Jim Caldwell -- not an unattractive pair by any means -- it still wouldn't have felt good, and would have looked more like a rubber stamp by McCaskey and Bill Polian on people they knew and were comfortable with.

By being as exhaustive as they were and then ending up with the young, high-ceiling Poles and the middle-aged, ready-for-his-turn Eberflus and being first or second across the finish line, you can't dispute they got their guys and gave them a nice head start on assembling their staff.

It feels like they at least got this part of it right.

@Hub_Arkush

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