If Matt Eberflus helped turn Darius Leonard into a star by helping him with more than just Xs and Os, maybe he can do the same for Justin Fields

If Matt Eberflus helped turn Darius Leonard into a star by helping him with more than just Xs and Os, maybe he can do the same for Justin Fields


Matt Eberflus’ next task will be transforming Justin Fields into a winner.
Image: Getty Images

The Chicago Bears are in a familiar position, starting all over again. Since they fired Lovie Smith following their 10-6 2013 season in which they missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season, they have relieved three coaches of their duties. They followed a predictable pattern with each hire. Smith was a defensive coordinator, Marc Trestman was an offensive guru, John Fox was defensive coordinator, and Matt Nagy was an offensive coordinator.

They have continued that pattern with the hiring of former Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. He has brought along an inexperienced offensive coordinator in Luke Getsy — he only spent one year of his coaching career as an offensive coordinator and that was at Mississippi State in 2018. However, Getsy spent five seasons with the Green Bay Packers, the last three as their quarterbacks coach, and was their passing game coordinator in 2021.

Some may question why the Bears went with a defensive-minded head coach. If Getsy works out as an OC, then he could be gone in 2023, leaving the Bears to have to start all over again on offense. While that sounds like a tough scenario, maybe the Bears learned something during the Matt Nagy years. Being an expert in offensive strategy sounds ideal for a young quarterback like Fields, but what is most important is the relationship between the quarterback and the coach.

Darius Leonard was a second-round draft pick for the Colts in 2018, and has been a first-team All-Pro selection three times at inside linebacker. He was certainly a diamond in the rough that the Colts discovered, but Leonard credits Eberflus for helping to maximize his talent.

“I came in as a raw guy.” Leonard said. “Really didn’t know how teams are gonna attack each defense. He actually sat me down [taught] me where my help is, [taught] me where my help is, [taught] me the game.”

Eberflus recognized Leonard’s raw talent and taught him how to use it better and that’s exactly what Fields needs. He was certainly raw as a rookie, but also had several flashes of brilliance. There was the 4th-and-1 run against the San Francisco 49ers when he cut across the field and went 21 yards for a touchdown. The following week was his best performance of the season on Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He went 17-for029 for 291 yards and a touchdown, and contributed 45 yards on the ground.

Still, there were many bad interceptions, and times where he didn’t make quick and proper decisions. Fields being able to sit down and connect with his coaches could be what turns him into a more consistent player. It clearly worked for Leonard with Eberflus, and Matt LaFleur brought Getsy back to Green Bay from Mississippi State when he got the Packers head coach job because of Getsy’s relationship with Aaron Rodgers. I have no idea what Nagy was like behind closed doors, but he frequently came off as smug during press conferences.

The Bears absolutely need to make some adjustments to their scheme. It was too much straight drop back and Fields sitting in the pocket way too long. He also needs to speed up his decision-making, but he should feel more comfortable doing that with people he is more comfortable around.

Maybe all the Bears needed to turn their franchise around was to hire people who are good when it comes to football knowledge, but even better when it comes to dealing with superstars.



Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.