Many people were taken aback when the Chicago Bears made Matt Eberflus the 17th head coach in franchise history. It didn’t make sense. With a young quarterback in Justin Fields to develop, the common sense thing to do would be hiring an offensive-minded head coach to pair him with. Yet instead, they go with a 51-year old defensive coordinator from Indianapolis. Experts couldn’t understand what they were thinking. All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard understood immediately.
A head coach’s job in the NFL is not to cater to the quarterback. It is to get the best out of all 53 players on the active roster. Yes, the quarterback is most important, but it’s still only one position. One must rely on the effort and execution of several other positions to win football games. The Bears felt that Eberflus had the skills and mindset they were looking for to do exactly that.
Leonard has made it clear he agrees.
The defensive superstar wasn’t happy to see Eberflus leave this offseason. He has great admiration and respect for the coach. While always a physically gifted player, he was never a great linebacker, even in college. That is why he fell to the 2nd round in 2018. Eberflus and his staff helped make him who he is today. Leonard explained on the Pat McAfee Show what separates the new Bears head coach from so many others. It starts with understanding how to get NFL players to give their absolute best.
This goes back to the H.I.T.S philosophy that Eberflus champions. He wants his team to hustle, play with intensity, produce takeaways on defense and avoid them on offense, and be smart on the field. Yet that ability to motivate and get players to play hard is only one part of his prowess. Leonard explained that Eberflus stood out as an excellent teacher. Someone willing to put in the extra time to show the young linebacker every facet of playing the position. Something a lot of coaches aren’t good at or don’t really do.
Darius Leonard believes Eberflus checks all the boxes
One of the problems with Matt Nagy during his time as head coach was he lacked critical aspects of his job. While nobody could ever dispute the man’s motivation, his teaching prowess was totally different. Too often his teams operated with an air of sloppiness. Self-inflicted wounds through penalties or turnovers were commonplace. Receivers would run the wrong routes. Offensive linemen would miss blocking assignments. The quarterback wouldn’t know where to get guys lined up.
All of that falls at the feet of the head coach. It is his responsibility to have his team prepared. This is what Darius Leonard is talking about with Eberflus.
He can find that critical second gear as a coach.
He can motivate the players while teaching them the game as well. Football isn’t easy. It is an endlessly complex game that evolves with each passing year. Not everybody can instruct players on how to play it at a high level. This is why head coaches get hired and fired with such frequency every year. It sounds like after a decade of searching, the Bears might finally have their guy.
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