Colts reporter shares why Eberflus will make great coach


The Bears have reportedly found their next head coach in Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. He’s a man who earned praise for creating a disciplined culture in Indianapolis, one that ranked near the top of the league in turnovers and near the bottom of the league in penalties last season. But to get to know more about Eberflus the leader, and Eberflus the defensive mind, earlier this month we reached out to Colts reporter, and former host of the Under Center Podcast, J.J. Stankevitz, to get some insider perspective. From what Stankevitz said, it sounds like the Bears have a man ready to take on his first head coaching job.

“Flus commands his staff really well,” Stankevitz said on a recent episode of the Under Center Podcast. “The way Flus leads that defense and coaches, you know, finds the right coaches to coach, it is really impressive.”

With Frank Reich running the offense, Eberflus was charged with revitalizing the defense when he came to Indianapolis in 2018. He brought about instant improvement, as well. In 2017, the year before Eberflus came to Indianapolis, the Colts ranked 30th in the league in both scoring and total defense. The next year, Eberflus helped the defense climb all the way to No. 10 in points allowed and No. 11 in yards allowed. Last season, the Colts ranked No. 9 in scoring defense and No. 16 in total defense.

Eberflus came up in the league as a linebackers coach. He started his NFL coaching career in 2009, coaching the position for the Cleveland Browns, then taking the Cowboys linebackers coach job in 2011. Over his career he’s helped groom Darius Leonard into a three-time All-Pro, and Sean Lee into an All-Pro as well. He’s also worked with established greats, like DeMarcus Ware.

“It's not just their incredible All-Pro in Darius Leonard,” said Stankevitz. “It's guys like Anthony Walker and Bobby Okereke, who played really well. And that's kind of at the core of Matt Eberflus’ coaching style is, you've got to have good linebackers.

“He always says that in his defense, which is a 4-3, you need to have a really good nose or three technique. You need to have a really good Will linebacker, which is Darius Leonard. And you need to have a really good slot corner, which is Kenny Moore II. So that's kind of how his philosophy sort of comes.”

But having an established philosophy does not a head coach make. A great head coach needs to establish a culture, lead in good times and lead in bad times too.

“I think the way that he, as a defensive coach, responds to adversity is really important,” said Stankevitz. “You know, the Colts started the season. We were 0-3, then 1-4. There were some things going on on defense that were not up to the team's standard. And, you know, Flus always stuck to his process of it, and trusted the players and the process around him, even in the face of a pretty crummy start to the season.

“I think, you know, not deviating from that process, not panicking and trying to do some different things with a defense that's very well established. A lot of these guys have been here for three or four years. That was really impressive just how he went about that.”

One thing that stood out most to Stankevitz was how he put together creative programs to keep well established players motivated on defense. This year, he handed out tie-dyed “ball hawk” shirts to players who created a takeaway, so that they could wear them around the locker room to show off their accomplishments. And the players loved it.

“I mean, just like the loudest shirts I've ever seen,” Stankevitz said. “If you scored a touchdown on defense, he got a red one. If he got an interception, you got a blue one. If you got a forced fumble recovery, you got like a green one or something.

“Players in meetings一 they showed this a little bit on Hard Knocks… it was hilarious. And like, it's just like those little, little motivational tactics sprinkled here and there, you know, that are authentic and players really can buy into, he's pretty good at that. I really came away appreciating how he can do that with the team.”

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