New Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus met with the media on January 31 for the first time since his hire, and he laid out his plan for turning the team around.
The Bears finished third in the NFC North with a 6-11 record in 2021, and they have managed just three winning seasons since 2008. Eberflus is the 17th head coach in Bears’ history, and the fourth coach to lead the team since Lovie Smith was fired in 2012.
According to The Football Database, Chicago finished with the 12th-most penalties (106) in the league. Eberflus, who led the Colts defense last season, was part of an Indianapolis team that was fourth-least penalized team in the league (76). His defense was tied for fewest defensive holding penalties in the NFL (3), and the Colts were the only team that didn’t jump offsides last year — not once in 17 games.
In his introductory presser, penalties and discipline were some of the first things Eberflus mentioned when discussing the philosophy he plans to instill in his new players, who he also had a strong message for.
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Eberflus to Bears Players: ‘Get Your Track Shoes’
In his introductory press conference, Eberflus and new Bears general manager Ryan Poles fielded questions from the media while also discussing their plans to rejuvenate the franchise. It didn’t take long for the Bears’ new coach to let his players know what’s in store.
“I would like to really have a statement, really to the Chicago Bears players and fans,” Eberflus said during his opening statement. “We will play at a high tempo, a high effort, attacking, physical style, built upon speed, quickness and explosive athletic ability. We will carry ourselves with an attitude of energy, passion and intensity. We will play with maximum effort on every play. My next piece of advice for the players for sure is get your track shoes on, because we’re running.”
When laying out his H.I.T.S principle (it’s an acronym that stands for Hustle, Intensity, Taking the ball away and Smart situational playing) Eberflus made a point to note cutting down on penalties will be a focal point for Chicago moving forward.
“It’s being smart situational players,” he said. “So smart is really being what? No stupid penalties. Make sure we’re squared away with the penalties. Should be in the top 5 every year in penalties.”
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Bears QB Justin Fields Excited to Work With Eberflus
Quarterback Justin Fields, who enters his second season in 2022, also met with the media on January 31, and he had only positive things to say about Eberflus.
“I really just like the way he carries himself,” Fields said about his new head coach. “Just his demeanor, I feel like his presence – he’s confident when he talks, he knows what he wants to do, he has a plan set in stone, and I’m just ready to lead with him and just get ready for next year.”
While Eberflus is a defensive-minded coach, Fields thinks that could be a positive for himself and the rest of the Bears offense.
“Having a defensive head coach, I feel like there are some positives to that,” Fields added. “Being on the offense, you kind of know what the defense is doing, but you don’t know what fully they’re doing. You know they’re running a certain type of coverage, but when you have a defensive head coach, he’s able to explain to you what their jobs are, what their certain assignments are in a certain coverage, so I think that’s one plus on having a defensive head coach.”
Eberflus also served as passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys from 2016-2017, working with QB Dak Prescott during his first two seasons, so he has experience shaping young signal-callers.
It’s very early, but Eberflus is saying the right things. We’ll see how the players respond on the field.