Matt Eberflus has plenty of critics already. They feel his hiring as Chicago Bears head coach was misguided. Not because he’s necessarily unqualified but more because he isn’t what the team needed. With Justin Fields as the centerpiece of their future, the Bears have to do everything in their power to make him a success. Logic dictates they should’ve hired an offensive-minded head coach—somebody with a deep background in managing quarterbacks.
Forget the fact that the Bears already tried this with Matt Nagy and failed. Not enough people recognize the truth about Eberflus. Despite his defensive history, the man did get a pretty extensive education for developing quarterbacks. It started back in the mid-1990s when he became a member of Gary Pinkel’s coaching staff at Toledo. There, the head coach recruited and developed two of the top eight leading passers in program history. Ryan Huzjak threw for 6,672 yards and 52 touchdowns in 43 games. Chris Wallace threw for 5,454 yards and 44 touchdowns in 29 games.
Yet his best work was still to come.
By 2005, Pinkel was the head coach at Missouri. That year, he recruited a talented high school quarterback named Chase Daniel from Texas. He would break every program passing record with 12,515 yards, 101 touchdowns, and just 41 interceptions. Eberflus was the defensive coordinator for the team during that entire stretch. He’s seen the process of first-hand bringing in a young QB and molding him into a starter.
The same became true when he finally jumped to the NFL. Eberflus was there when the Dallas Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott in 2016 and saw him win Rookie of the Year. Jason Garrett gets plenty of grief, but the former head coach understood how to cultivate the quarterback position, having been one himself. Eberflus spent four years with Frank Reich in Indianapolis if all that wasn’t enough.
Not only a former backup quarterback himself but also somebody that got career-best seasons from Carson Wentz in 2017 and Andrew Luck in 2018 as a coach. So let’s repeat it.
Matt Eberflus got a great education on developing quarterbacks
Already it is becoming clear he had a plan for Justin Fields coming into this. He hired Luke Getsy as offensive coordinator, a man who just worked with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Then he put together a staff with lots of experience running a Shanahan-style outside zone offense. Arguably the most quarterback-friendly system in the NFL right now. This is a head coach that took his lessons from the past 20 years and is applying them well.
The next step is finding the necessary players to put around Fields. That job falls to GM Ryan Poles. If he can secure better blocking and better weapons, this system should be capable of making full use of them. Provided Fields takes the coaching well and learns from his past mistakes; next season, he is poised for significant improvement.
One thing is for sure.
Matt Eberflus isn’t going to baby him. This is a coach that holds his players to a high standard. He’ll teach them. He’ll motivate them. Yet that doesn’t change his level of expectation. He will demand excellence from everybody on that roster, including the quarterback. A requirement that sometimes escapes certain head coaches.
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