One understandable push-back against hiring a former defensive coordinator as your new head coach is the fear that he won’t be able to connect with the team’s quarterback. And the argument carries a little extra weight when the quarterback in question is young, relatively inexperienced, and exiting an offensive system that didn’t quite work for him in his rookie season.
Obviously, we’re circling an illustration of the Bears right now. And for what it is worth, I understand that point of view. After all, there is something to be said that the teams in the NFL’s final four were all led by play-calling offensive head coaches. However, we should know by now that there isn’t just one way to get it done in the NFL.
And in speaking to the media on Monday, Bears quarterback Justin Fields said something that made me think that hiring a defensive mind like Matt Eberflus could have its own built in an advantage for a quarterback’s development:
“Having a defensive coach, I feel like there are positives to that. Being on the offense, you kind of know what the defense is doing, but you don’t what fully they’re doing. So you know they’re running a certain kind of coverage, but when you have a defensive head coach, he’s able to explain to you what their jobs are, what they’re certain assignments are, and certain coverage.”
After having seen the game through the eyes of offensive thinkers such as Matt Nagy, Bill Lazor, and John DeFilippo, maybe getting perspective from another angle will be beneficial. This isn’t to say Fields won’t have an offensive coordinator and position coach in his ear. It’s just that adding the defensive mindset as a point of reference has its benefits, as well.
When we think of defensive head coaches, we think of them primarily as being hands on with the defense. But Eberflus said in his press conference that he wanted to approach the position from an executive’s angle. Think in terms of a football CEO. So while Eberflus won’t be calling plays on offense (or even defense!), the new coach will still have opportunities to be hands on as a teacher. And with players in all phases of the game, to boot. That might seem like a small detail now, but it might yield big results at some point down the line.
Also … how about Fields speaking today? That wasn’t something I was expecting. It was refreshing. Who doesn’t love a surprise Fields visit?
We hadn’t heard from Fields since he went on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. That trip ultimately ended his rookie season. It was nice to see Fields in good spirits. On top of that, it was notable that the team put him out there in the first place. To me, that speaks to what this franchise thinks of Fields right now, and what his future could hold. I’m just saying … this franchise didn’t have Mitchell Trubisky front-and-center doing a post-hiring press conference when Matt Nagy came on board.
You can watch more from Fields in the video below: