Matt Eberfels’ opening press conference as Bears coach on Monday was as simple and unimpressive as an office meeting. It was as if a new CEO had been brought in to bolster a faltering operation, calling everyone into the conference room to put together something that looked more like a business plan than a game plan.
And Hallas long-awaited for this approach.
Eberfels made no effort to “win the press conference” because he might see how little value there is in it. New General Manager Ryan Pauls didn’t do much of that either, aside from a line about the NFC North grabbing the Packers and never bringing it back, which is mostly harmless to say – anyone who has taken that job would set the same goal – other than risking it back in his face if It did not.
There are no tournaments to win tournaments in January. Matt Nagy and other former coaches have so upset this fan base that it would be impossible for Eberflus to convince them on day one anyway.
Rather than being consumed by popularity or just providing the right vocal bite, Eberfels provided a first-hand view of how he intended to steer the Bears from their current state of chaos into a strong and consistent team. Adding to the spirit of the company he launched, he conveyed his core philosophy in a nutshell: HITS
He’s fortunately unaware of how weak it leaves people who stick an extra S in front if things go wrong, but here’s what the letters stand for:
The H is for hustle, which he will demand at every moment of practice; I am in favor of sharpness, such as having a strong playing style; T stands for transformations, i.e. to create it and not obligate it; S is for smart people, and is mostly aimed at eliminating the persistent Beers penalty problem.
“We have ways to measure it and be very detailed with it,” Eberlus said.
It’s easy to get lost in the extreme dryness of canned explanations like this, but make it clear that they’re both objective and actionable. And that’s better than the other way around: big talk about changing the culture is like metaphorically appealing to players to “sweep the pens” but constantly tolerate neglect.
You can see Eberflus presenting HITS on PowerPoint as soon as he has his first meeting with the players. And you can see that it resonates as an adult-to-adult way of working with players. It’s old school, but not too far-fetched.
If he makes one mistake, he says he plans to communicate his principles to players by showing them “why” and explaining how “it’s all about the cause”. I sighed throughout the Chicago area when I used this term. But until then, at least, Eberflus noted that he already had the “reasons” and that he wasn’t lost in an endless search for them.
Eberflus’ overview of how to proceed was comfortably practical – no promises, no preemption, nothing that sounded strange or unrealistic. He seemed competent and qualified, and he plans to apply that CEO-style thinking in his role as head coach.
“To be the main football coach and to be effective in that, you are exactly the football coach,” he said. “So I can be involved in all aspects of the game, the defensive coordinator we’re hiring will be called defensive plays. I’m not going to do that.”
The fact that he’s going to say that without even knowing who the defensive coordinator is gives insight into how he’s working – plus it’s refreshing after the bumpy play of whoever he’s been calling in the past two seasons. Even as a defensive-minded coach, Eberfels wouldn’t hire a coordinator unless he trusted him to truly manage the defense.
He made it clear, though, that he and the new coordinator would switch the Bears from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. That change is likely to be embraced by exuberant superstars Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn.
Likewise, he does not distance himself from crime. Many NFL coaches are committed to their area of expertise and give the coordinator on the other side of the ball independence. Eberflus has hired Packers quarterback coach Luke Getsy as his offensive coordinator, but he’s still involved.
It must be. His job depends on it.
Attacking is the two’s biggest problem for the Bears at the moment, and the development of quarterback Justin Fields will be the biggest factor in whether Eberflus thrives or is fired in a few years. He has 30 years of experience training exclusively defense, but he will be responsible for attacking bears every time.
“I’m excited about it,” Eberlus said of the new responsibility.
It would only be exciting if he and Jitsi could design an attack that would score more than 18 points per game.
In the end, this is the bridge between his lively press conference and the excitement of the playoff round.
Eberflus does not have to be disguised. He needs to be discreet.
No style points required. Needs actual points.
He does not need to be a dynamic speaker. It needs to be a winner.
If Eberflus did this, there would be nothing boring about it.