On Thursday morning, sources indicated that former Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus has been hired by the Chicago Bears as their next head coach. ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news shortly before 11 a.m. EST.
Eberflus was a finalist not only for the Bears’ head coach vacancy but also to be the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars as well. With the Bears hiring Ryan Poles as their new general manager, someone with who Eberflus has a previous relationship with, it’s easy to see why he was Chicago’s top choice.
Eberflus was hired to be the Colts’ defensive coordinator when New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had originally agreed to be the head coach of the Colts in 2018. When McDaniels backed out, and Frank Reich was hired as the head coach, Eberflus was kept on the staff and has run the Colts’ defense for the past four seasons.
During Eberflus’s tenure in Indianapolis, the Colts ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense in three out of four seasons. The Colts also ranked in the top 10 in rush defense every season Eberflus was the defensive coordinator.
In 2021, Eberflus’s unit gave up 21.5 points per game (t-ninth in the NFL), 109.1 rush yards per game (t-tenth), and 234.1 passing yards per game (19th). The Colts defense also finished second in the league with 33 turnovers forced in 2021.
Eberflus was known to get maximum effort out of his players in Indianapolis. His “loaf” system kept players accountable and demanded that they give 100% from start to finish on every play. The effort was obvious in the play of the Colts, as defenders were consistently seen running all-out to the ball.
Eberflus has been a candidate for head coaching positions for a few years now, and the Colts knew losing their defensive coordinator could be a possibility. It is also possible that Eberflus will take some, if not all, of the current defensive staff with him to Chicago to run that side of the ball. With the Eberflus hiring by the Bears, along with the news that defensive line coach Brian Baker would not return, the defensive staff for the Colts is sure to look much different in 2022.
The Colts will now begin their search for a new defensive coordinator. With All-Pro and Pro Bowl players at each level in DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard, and Kenny Moore II, interest will be heavy around the league for this position. The new Colts’ defensive coordinator will also get full control over the defense, as Reich spends most of his time with the offense and deferred to Eberflus to run the defense during his tenure.
As far as what the Colts will be looking for in their next defensive coordinator, expect the Colts to look at candidates who will implore the same scheme or a scheme similar to what they are currently running. The Colts would like to stay in a more base Cover-2 or Cover-3 look with more man concepts added in at times. My colleague Zach Hicks recently wrote a piece on potential replacements for Eberflus that you can find here.
While some fans were not too high on Eberflus, he kept the Colts’ scoring defense in the top 10 and was a big proponent on forcing turnovers. The next defensive coordinator will be tasked with taking this Colts defense from a top 10 unit into one that can challenge the top offenses in the NFL.
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