Matt Eberflus is still somewhat of a mystery to Chicago Bears fans. That shouldn’t be a surprise. He only became the head coach in January and has yet to work in actual games. Still, the past few months have at least painted a picture of what this team is getting. Eberflus is a defensive coach firmly rooted in the Tony Dungy/Lovie Smith style. He believes in simple schemes matched with high effort and high intelligence execution.
Perhaps the one thing that has gone unnoticed for the most part is Eberflus’ mentality. After watching him in front of the cameras and listening to a radio interview, it becomes clear the 51-year-old is a self-confident person. He doesn’t sound like a man who feels overawed by being the head coach of the Bears. Sure, it’s a great honor for him, but he retains an inner belief that he earned his position through his hard work and ability.
Likely a by-product of coaching for 30 years.
That confidence was on full display during a recent interview on The Rich Eisen Show. Eberflus talked about many things, from his plans for Justin Fields to the Packers rivalry. At one point, Eisen asked him about his encounter with all-time great coach Nick Saban. The two crossed paths briefly in 1990 when he was head coach at Toledo and Eberflus was a linebacker. He talked about the influence that experience had on him and casually made a promise about the Bears in the process.
“It was great for me to be able to see that because that really helped me whenever I was turning a defense around or as I’m going to do now, turn the Chicago Bears around† That really helped me as a young man to be able to see and really live how he did that.”
He didn’t even emphasize it. Eberflus merely said it as if it were a foregone conclusion. This Bears team will start winning football games under his watch with some time. One must admire such strong belief, both in himself and his plan. When asked what Saban taught him about coaching, the thing that stood out was getting players to narrow their focus on one play. Nothing else matters. Once that play is over, move to the next one.
“One of the things I learned from him is it’s always the next play. You focus your attention on one thing and then you move to the next play and you do it that way. That’s how you play a football game.”
Matt Eberflus comes across as very different from Matt Nagy.
The thing about Nagy when he first arrived was his enthusiasm. It was crystal clear how excited he was to be the Bears head coach, and he planned to transfer that energy to his players. It worked for a time anyway. However, such an approach has a shelf life in the NFL. That proved true in 2020 and 2021, when it felt like his words were starting to fall on deaf ears. Players had grown tired of his stale platitudes.
That isn’t going to be Matt Eberflus. While he can be positive, his approach is much more systematic. He’s a grinder. Every single player on the roster will be set to a high standard. They must hustle, play with intensity, and play smart. If they can’t meet that standard, they won’t have a place on this football team. It worked for Dungy. It worked for Smith.
There’s no reason it shouldn’t work for him.
It’s at least nice to hear a coach that knows exactly which direction he’s pointing his team in. All they have to do is follow him, and he’ll get them to where they want to go. That’s what good leaders are supposed to do.