As the Chicago Bears prepare to face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, first-year head coach Matt Eberflus is prepared to expect the unexpected when it comes to second-year quarterback Trey Lance.
“You’re projecting a little bit,” Eberflus stated at his media availability, as detailed by NBC Sports. “You have to project how they’re going to use the young man and where they’re going to use them in their offense. We certainly have an idea of what this offense looks like. But how they’re going to use him, no one really knows. You have to use your rules, have your calls and make sure you’re sound.”
Even after spending his entire NFL coaching career working on the defensive side of the ball, it’s clear Eberflus isn’t taking the prospects of facing Lance lightly.
Matt Eberflus Took The Scenic Route To The Chicago Bears
Long before Elberflus was the head coach of the Bears, he was a four-year letterman linebacker at the University of Toledo, where he played under Dan Simrell, Nick Saban, and Gary Pinkel. Though he was a prolific on-field performer for the Rockets, collecting 325 tackles and eventually making it onto the University’s Hall of Fame in 2004, Elberflus didn’t garner much interest from the NFL and instead opted to return to Ohio to begin his coaching career as a graduate assistant.
From there, Elberflus spent nine years with the Rockets, eventually rising to the rank of defensive backs coach before he made the jump to the SEC ranks, where he followed Pinkel to the University of Missouri and was named the team’s defensive coordinator and associate head coach.
From 2001-08, Elberflus worked well under his mentor, helping to lead the team to four-straight winning seasons from 05-08, but when the NFL came calling, the collegiate linebacker accepted, first joining the Cleveland Browns, then the Dallas Cowboys, and finally the Indianapolis Colts, where he served as Frank Reich’s defensive coordinator from 2018-21.
Finally afforded an opportunity to oversee both sides of the ball in Chicago, Elberflus’ Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season will be unlike any he’s experienced to date at any level of the game.
Kyle Shanahan Trusts The San Francisco 49ers’ Quarterback
While the mystery of Lance’s offensive abilities is enough to keep Elberflus and Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams working overtime ahead of Week 1, Kyle Shanahan is equally intrigued to see what his second-year quarterback can do in 2022. Even if Lance isn’t perfect right out of the gates, he’ll learn from his mistakes and ultimately get better with more experience.
“There’s going to be times where he makes some mistakes,” Shanahan said after the 49ers’ preseason finale against the Houston Texans, again, from NBC Sports. “And he’s going to learn from them and find a way to still win the game and overcome some of those things that he learns on the run.”