Matt Nagy’s inability and unwillingness to delegate responsibilities to others was one of the factors that ultimately led to his undoing in Chicago.
So it was very encouraging to hear the opposite from new Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus:
Matt Eberflus says he will NOT call the defensive plays, and that the defensive coordinator will, whomever that turns out to be.
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) January 31, 2022
During his press conference, Eberflus came off as a coach-y coach. Measured, calculated, and sometimes corny. But when he said he was *NOT* calling defensive plays as a defensive coordinator, it made my eyes bug out of my head.
Indeed, Eberflus said that he wanted to be more of an executive as a head coach. Which is just not what I was expecting (mostly because many of these coaches want to have their cake and eat it too – being the head coach and lead play caller). It was truly interesting to hear Eberflus hint that the head coach shouldn’t be calling plays. That Eberflus, upon taking his first-ever head coaching job, is comfortable relinquishing those responsibilities is something I found encouraging.
Who’s making those calls is still an unknown. Alan Williams, who coaches the Colts’ safeties, is reportedly a candidate. But there could be others, so we’ll keep an eye out if options pop up. It’s not as if Williams is the only DC candidate who would want to coach Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Roquan Smith, Jaylon Johnson, and Eddie Jackson.
Eberflus is coming out of the gate trying to right one of the wrongs of the past. A good head coach isn’t made by excelling exclusively on one side of the ball. Instead, the best head coaches divide responsibilities and oversee operations from the top. This isn’t to say that a good head coach can’t be an offensive or defensive guru from the top. But we saw with Nagy how things began to slip away as he became overly entrenched in fixing his broken offense. Had he instead left those responsibilities to his offensive coordinator, perhaps Nagy could have still had the pulse of a defense that did so much heavy lifting.
Ideally, this new plan of attack serves the Bears well.
Same for this important change on the side of the ball that happens to be Eberflus’ expertise:
The Bears will be a 4-3 defense. Matt Eberflus says this is the third time he’s been part of a scheme change from a 3-4 to a 4-3.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) January 31, 2022
The Bears are changing their defensive front in 2022. After having been in a 3-4 since Vic Fangio and John Fox were running the show in 2015, Chicago’s football team will flip to a 4-3. So, instead of the base featuring three down linemen, there will be four. It is a small, but not inconsequential change.
But even still … this change comes with a caveat. That is because Eberflus himself said that some elements of the 3-4 will remain in whatever style he runs moving forward. And there is this:
Bears defense vs. Colts defense 2021:
Cover 2 %:
– Bears: 8.7% (19th)
– Colts: 15.2% (9th)
Mostly zone concepts for both otherwise, similar rates.
– Bears: 3.2% (20th)
– Colts: 21.4% (8th)
Colts in nickel (4-2-5) at second-highest rate in NFL (77.2%)
— Brad Spielberger, Esq. (@PFF_Brad) January 27, 2022
In other words, it sounds like the Bears will be flexible with the scheme they are running. Additionally, that alignment with four down linemen might not always be backed by 3 linebackers. Maybe we’ll see more nickel packages with two linebackers. Perhaps we’ll see more one LB sets with six defensive backs. Heck, the Bengals were dropping eight into coverage at points on Sunday.
The most important takeaway might be that Chicago will try to play to the its personnel. What a concept! And to think, that type of line of thinking might have led to better outcomes from the previous regime. Perhaps more flexibility would’ve spit out better results. Ah, well, nevertheless.