Hoge: Eberflus’ defensive past can help Justin Fields originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Let’s be honest. The Bears have a lot to prove.
After interviewing a combined 23 candidates for their general manager and head coach positions, they ended up hiring a general manager and head coach for the first time.
Oh, and a first-time caller to work with quarterback Justin Fields.
It’s definitely a leap of faith.
But one development that isn’t as concerning is the fact that new Bears head coach Matt Eberflus is a former defensive coordinator. As the Bears learned with their last head coach, having an offensive-minded coach paired with a young quarterback isn’t always the best answer.
“I’ve always been very committed to having a leader as head coach,” new Bears general manager Ryan Poles told NBC Sports Chicago on Monday. “I did my research. I spoke to people who have really succeeded in this league and I just had this confirmation. If you can find both, great. But the leadership position is what you should be looking for and that’s why it was easy to choose Matt.
Eberflus will have to prove he’ll get the whole roster on board, but when it comes to the quarterback, the coaching staff structure shouldn’t be an issue. Yes, in a perfect world you find the best leader who also happens to be the driving force on offense, but history has proven that’s not the only way to win the Super Bowl.
“Being on offense, you kind of know what the defense is doing, but you don’t know exactly what they’re doing,” Fields said. “You know they run 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 is a plus on having a defensive head coach.
That is, until the head coach is fully invested in calling the defense as well. And that’s a huge box that Eberflus ticked on Monday, making it clear that his defensive coordinator will call the defence.
“I believe that to be the head football coach and to be effective in that, you are exactly the head football coach.” said Eberflus. “So I can be involved in all aspects of the game.”
This will allow Eberflus to participate in offensive meetings and provide the kind of defensive insight that Fields was talking about. You don’t usually have defensive coordinators in the quarterback room. There just isn’t enough time. But in this case, Eberflus feels he can help give Fields “a double education,” as he told NBC Sports Chicago:
“So how can he learn the attacking system when we’re building that attacking system around him? But along the same lines, learn what the defense is trying to do to you, in terms of coverage, front and pressure? And what are the tell that I can give to the offensive staff, number one, and also to the quarterback? So you really learn Spanish and Latin at the same time.
Meanwhile, new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will have full autonomy in attack. He’s going to just focus on building the offense around Fields, without all the other distractions that come with being a head coach.
“I think it’s going to be great to see him just focus on offense and make it work, so I’m excited,” Fields said.
And in that regard, the bond between Fields and Getsy will be one of the most important relationships inside Halas Hall.
“It’s important that coaches execute plays that their players know how to execute well. They already have a basic idea of my strengths, but being able to communicate with them and tell them what my strengths are, we can be on the same page,” Fields said. “But there are going to be some new things that we didn’t race last year that work and I’ve never raced before that they’re going to want me to learn, so I’m going to talk to them and see what they need me to do and see what they need me to learn and then work on that in the offseason. And by the time training camp rolls around, I’ll know.
The Getsy-Fields pairing is very promising, and if that promise is kept, then yes, Getsy will likely be an NFL head coach soon. And that’s a problem the Bears would certainly be able to live with.
In the meantime, Ryan Poles has a head coach himself who can fully concentrate on his role as head coach.
And it’s a change that Halas Hall badly needed.