Pay Attention to What Matt Eberflus Told Dave Wannstedt About the Bears’ Type of Player
An interview featuring Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus (and conducted by former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt) is making its rounds today, and it is an intriguing conversation.
Eberflus and Wannstedt discuss all sorts of topics — including QB Justin Fields, the most recent NFL Draft, and his relationship with Ryan Poles — as they look ahead to the 2023 NFL Season. But there is one particular talking point that caught my attention. One that I’d like to carve out and share for a wider discussion here.
In chatting about the Bears’ free agency efforts (in which Eberflus said he looked at 60 free agent targets on the team’s radar), Chicago’s head coach offered up what he and the team were looking for in players to add to the roster this past offseason.
“We wanted to get guys that were young in their second contracts. Guys that would have some years left for us. It’s like Tremaine Edmunds. Super-young guy. A guy that we can build our defense around. He’s a special guy. He’s got length. If you look at a lot of the guys, they’re all long, even the guys we drafted. We want them long, fast, and strong. Those are the things we look for.”
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds being the prototype of what the Bears are doing in the Poles-Eberflus regime makes so much sense. Edmunds, who just turned 25 on May 2, checks all the boxes of what the powers that be want on this team moving forward. Young, but with experience. Quality experience, too. Edmunds has a pair of Pro Bowl nods under his belt and has eight games of playoff experience on his résumé. But it’s not just Edmunds’ youth, quality of experience, and upside that makes him the prototypical Bear. Because Eberflus’ line about length, speed, and strength isn’t just some throwaway. Instead, it is Eberflus declaring the Bears have a type and this is what it looks like.
I didn’t see it at the time, but now that the dust is settling on the heavy-lifting portions of the offseason, I see it clear as daylight. And now we know how to apply it down the line when the Bears go about hunting for fits in free agency and future NFL Drafts. Look back at the high-profile additions the Poles-Eberflus leadership committee brought in — and pay attention to their Relative Athletic Score (via @MathBomb):
- WR D.J. Moore: 9.65 RAS ranked 71st out of 2,006 receivers from 1987-2018.
- LB Tremaine Edmunds: 9.74 RAS ranked 48th of 1,779 linebackers from 1987-2018.
- RT Darnell Wright: 9.68 RAS ranked 43rd of 1,294 offensive tackles from 1987-2023.
- DT Gervon Dexter Sr.: 9.53 RAS ranked 77th of 1,620 defensive tackles from 1987-2023.
- CB Tyrique Stevenson: 8.93 RAS ranked 239th of 2,222 cornerbacks from 1987-2023.
This even dates back to last year’s key draft picks who were full-season starters:
- CB Kyler Gordon: 9.69 RAS is nice … and ranked 63rd of 2,001 cornerbacks from 1987-2022.
- S Jaquan Brisker: 9.12 RAS ranked 77th of 863 strong safeties from 1987-2022.
- LT Braxton Jones: 8.43 RAS ranked 192nd of 1,217 offensive tackles from 1987-2022.
This isn’t to say that RAS score is the be-all, end-all in the evaluation for this front office.
However, we definitely need to keep that kind of stuff in after Eberflus laid out how athleticism and length were things he (and by extension, his GM) value in players and prospects. Armed with this information, we’ll now have a better idea of potential fits and targets for this team as Poles and Eberflus continue to build a squad that has their fingerprints all over it.
For more from Eberflus and his interview with Wannstedt, check out this link and the snippet below: