Chicago Bears fans could have predicted the team would have gone defense-first in the hiring of its new head coach based on how things went with offensive-minded Matt Nagy.
But most Chicago faithful were surprised to see another Matt come through the door Thursday morning -- this time in former Indianapolis Colts DC Matt Eberflus.
The Bears will be Eberflus’ first head coaching gig, unlike some other candidates the Bears were considering in their search; however, that doesn’t mean he comes unequipped for the job.
Here are some quick facts about the Bears new coach that are worth knowing before the 2022 NFL season.
While Eberflus does not have any prior head coaching at any level, he has 29 years under his belt as a coach, including 12 in the NFL.
After he concluded his walk-on career at Toledo with two First-Team All-Mac selections as a linebacker, he was hired as a student assistant coach in 1992 by head coach Gary Winkel. He was then a graduate assistant coach in ‘93, recruiting coordinator and outside linebackers coach in ‘94 and ‘95, was outside linebackers coach from ‘96-‘98 and finally, spent 1999 and 2000 as Toledo’s defensive backs coach.
When Winkel left Toledo for the head coaching job at the University of Missouri, he brought Eberflus with him, where he was the defensive coordinator from 2001-2008. He helped recruit Brad Smith, William Moore and Sean Witherspoon to the Tigers, all of which got drafted to the NFL.
Eberflus was hired in 2008 by Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini to serve under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan as the linebackers coach of the Browns for two seasons.
He then followed Ryan to the Dallas Cowboys after Ryan was hired by Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. He resumed his role as linebackers coach with the Cowboys from 2011-2017, acting as the passing game coordinator for his last two seasons in Dallas, as well. During his time with Dallas, Everflus helped develop the likes of Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens and Jaylon Smith.
Ahead of the 2018 season, the Colts hired Eberflus to be their defensive coordinator with Eberflus planning to work with Josh McDaniels, who was the New England Patriots offensive coordinator that had taken the Colts’ head coaching job. When McDaniels decided to withdraw from the acceptance, Colts general manager Chris Ballard convinced Eberflus to stay, with Philadelphia Eagle offensive coordinator Frank Reich set to take the head coaching job instead.
During his time in Indianapolis, he turned the defense around from one of the worst units in the league to one of the better groups in the NFL. When the 51-year-old took over the DC job, the Colts were coming off a 2017 season where they finished 30th in NFL scoring defense and total defense. In 2021, the defense ranked ninth in the NFL in points per game (21.5) and 16th in yards per game (343.2). He’s helped Darius Leonard become one of the best linebackers in the league.
Coming to Chicago, Eberflus now has an opportunity to work indirectly with linebacker stars Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith.