Matt Eberflus was not kidding when he said everything the Bears do moving forward will be measured by his H.I.T.S. philosophy.
“Every single rep, every single practice, every single game,” Eberflus said about H.I.T.S. in his introductory press conference back in January. “It’s going to be an effort-based team.”
Since then, we’ve heard about it a lot. From Eberflus himself, players who know what to expect like Al-Quadin Muhammad, his new defensive coordinator Alan Williams, and more. But apparently Bears players have heard it way more than we might have anticipated.
“When I first met the coaches, all they said was H.I.T.S. principle,” said Trevis Gipson. “That was the first week going on to second week, H.I.T.S. principle. Third week. We heard it yesterday. We’re hearing it today.
“I’m hearing it even walking down the halls. I think it’s getting bred into our defense and our offense, and I think we’re going to have a fantastic year.”
Even if Eberflus and his staff have their H.I.T.S. playing on repeat, Gipson says it hasn’t gotten old. On the contrary, it’s set a clear tone.
“I think it’s just sort of, ‘This is what we’re about, this is how we do things, this is how we want you guys to do things and this is how you guys will do things.’ So I think that’s sort of the culture right now, and I’m really appreciative of it.”
From his perspective, Eberflus believes the team has been receptive to his program in the early stages, too.
“What we're teaching them and what we're telling them is that it's winning football,” Eberflus said. “It's the rudiments of the game. It's about blocking and tackling. It's about doing the simple things better than anybody else does. They've been good.”
That’s all great, but practically what does that mean? It’s early spring, so there’s no live contact. The players just got onto the grass together for the first time together on Tuesday.
“We got emails detailing what we need to do to be ready to get back, and ‘run’ was what most occurred in those emails,” Gipson said. “So that’s something I think we weren’t blindsided by and we’ll expect to do more often.”
On the field, Eberflus was encouraged that his message had hit home due to great execution and concentration.
“You'll see other things that don't show that, like snaps that are dropped, guys jumping offsides, defensively guys missing their assignments,” Eberflus said. “I saw really good execution today. That's a tribute to them paying attention to what we're trying to do, offense, defense and kicking.”
Earlier this offseason, Eberflus and Williams were candid and admitted the H.I.T.S. philosophy is not for everyone. It demands maximum effort and attention all the time, and some players aren’t cut out for it. There could be obstacles on the horizon for this coaching staff that they’ll have to overcome. But for now, it sounds like the team has yet to face those obstacles.
“Today was a good start,” Eberflus said. “It was a really good start. We’re excited about where it is but it’s got to get better, for sure.”