The Bears reportedly have their next head coach in former Cowboys and Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.
Chicago concluded interviews with Eberflus and general manager Ryan Poles on Wednesday. The move not only reflects a change in staffing, but also a philosophical departure from former head coach Matt Nagy’s offensive background. Eberflus, who has coached defenses in the NFL since 2009, has made a career of instilling intense, effort-driven cultures on the teams for whom he has coached — often resulting in positive on-field results.
That likely would be a point of emphasis for a Bears team that, after finishing 12-4 in Nagy’s first season in 2017, struggled to two 8-8 records in 2018-19 before finally ending with a 6-11 campaign in 2021.
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Sporting News has everything you need to know about Eberflus, including coaching background, NFL history and defensive rankings:
Who is Matt Eberflus?
Eberflus, 51, is getting his first head coaching position after 30 years’ combined coaching experience — nine at his college alma mater, Toledo; eight at Missouri; two with the Browns; seven with the Cowboys; and five with the Colts.
Prior to getting his coaching start at Toledo, Eberflus was a walk-on quarterback for the Rockets from 1988-91. He was a three-year starting linebacker under Dan Simrell and Hall of Famers Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel. Eberflus finished his career with 325 tackles, including team-best tallies as a junior (89) and senior (138). He was a two-time first-team All-MAC selection as a junior and senior, and was later inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2004.
Eberflus transitioned straight to coaching following his final season as a player: He started as student assistant in Toledo in 1992 before advancing to outside linebackers coach in 1996 and defensive backs coach in 1999. He followed Pinkel to Missouri in 2001, serving as his defensive coordinator for nine seasons
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Eberflus first ventured into the NFL in 2009 as the Browns’ linebackers coach — a position he held for two seasons. He later accepted the same position with the Cowboys from 2011-15. There, he worked with linebackers such as DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Sean Lee and Rolando McClain, helping them to productive seasons and producing two first-team All-Pro seasons and five Pro Bowl berths. He was also instrumental in transitioning the Cowboys’ defense from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 after Monte Kiffin took over the role of defensive coordinator in 2013.
The Cowboys promoted Eberflus to defensive coordinator and defensive passing game coordinator in 2016 after he had interest from opposing teams to take over as their defensive coordinator. He eventually left for the Colts in 2017 as Indianapolis’ defensive coordinator. He helped turn a Colts defense that ranked 30th in scoring defense and total defense in 2017 to a unit that ranked 10th and 11th in those categories, respectively, in 2018.
Eberflus interviewed for the Browns’ head coaching job in 2019, but was turned down in favor of Freddie Kitchens.
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NFL defensive rankings
Eberflus has made a career of instilling an effort-driven culture into his defenses, which has helped his teams rank among the better units in the league.
Notably, Eberflus is responsible for producing two top-10 units in terms of total defense; six top-10 units in terms of rushing defense; four top-10 units in terms of scoring defense; and four top-10 units in terms of turnovers created.
Below are the Cowboys and Colts’ defensive rankings while he served as those teams’ defensive coordinators:
|Total defense (rank)||Passing defense (rank)||Rushing defense (rank)||Scoring defense (rank)||Turnovers (rank)|
|2016 Cowboys||343.9 ypg (14th)||260.4 ypg (26th)||83.5 ypg (1st)||19.1 ppg (5th)||20 (T-19th)|
|2017 Cowboys||318.1 ypg (8th)||214.1 ypg (11th)||104.0 ypg (8th)||20.8 ppg (13th)||21 (T-16th)|
|2018 Colts||339.4 ypg (11th)||237.8 ypg (16th)||101.6 ypg (8th)||21.5 ppg (10th)||26 (T-10th)|
|2019 Colts||346.8 ypg (16th)||248.9 ypg (21st)||97.9 ypg (7th)||23.3 ppg (18th)||23 (T-10th)|
|2020 Colts||332.1 ypg (8th)||241.6 ypg (20th)||90.5 ypg (2nd)||22.6 ppg (10th)||25 (T-5th)|
|2021 Colts||343.2 ypg (16th)||234.1 ypg (19th)||109.1 ypg (10th)||21.5 ppg (9th)||33 (2nd)|