I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago as a Bears fan before heading to college at the University of Indianapolis and after graduating spending 11 of the last 13 years in Indianapolis. Needless to say, I have some experience watching the Bears and Colts throughout the years and always keeping an eye on both teams, which has led to unnecessary stress and has probably knocked several years off of my life. I’ve accepted my fate.
So it’s nice when occasionally both teams cross their streams (in the “Ghostbusters” sense and not in the bathroom sense). It happened with linebacker Jerrell Freeman, Chuck Pagano, Trey Burton, joint practices and the infamous preseason game where news got out of Andrew Luck’s impending retirement. I was there and can still remember hearing the audible gasps and seeing phones light up in every section of Lucas Oil Stadium like a social media version of The Wave. Now add the latest crossover, defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus being named head coach of the Bears. Colts fans seem to be over the moon because it means a fresh face to take over a defense while Bears fans are understandably on the fence. What does it all mean for both teams and could more crossover be coming?
For The Colts
The last image Colts fans got of the Matt Eberflus defense came in Week 18 when, in a must-win game, the Colts defense got manhandled by Trevor Lawrence and the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. Lawrence, who hadn’t thrown more than two touchdown passes since Halloween, looked like a long-haired version of Joe Montana as the Colts were absolutely outplayed and embarrassed and saw their season come to an abrupt end. Fans wanted change and it didn’t seem like it was coming until Eberflus’ name kept getting mentioned for head coaching interviews. He was a finalist for both the Bears and the Jaguars that we know of and got the nod to be the Bears head coach earlier today.
Now, the Colts have a vacancy at defensive coordinator on top of the departure of defensive line coach Brian Baker and even more changes to the defensive coaching staff could be right around the corner, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Coaches generally get to take an assistant with them, and all signs point to that being LBs coach Dave Borgonzi who should end up with Eberflus in Chicago. https://t.co/y3cqDVAFd4
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 27, 2022
If Eberflus brings linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi with him the Colts will be pretty much be bringing in an entirely new defensive staff in 2022. Looking for a new defensive coordinator could mean that Frank Reich and company stay in-house and try to hire someone already on the staff, like safeties coach Alan Williams or look for an external hire. Maybe there could be more crossover with both teams if they decide to bring in Sean Desai, Vic Fangio or former head coach Lovie Smith. They could also look to bring in another guy Reich worked with in Philadelphia previously, former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, who was defensive coordinator for the Eagles when Reich was there and currently works as a senior defensive assistant for the Tennessee Titans.
There’s plenty of options for the Colts and it depends on how bold or safe they want to go in their hiring process, but according to The Athletic’s Stephen Holder, they will exhaust all options.
As the Colts look to replace outgoing defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, look for them to consider internal AND external candidates. This will be a legit search, I’m told.
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) January 27, 2022
For The Bears
I’ll be honest. We were heading into a group meeting at work with my bosses’, other producers, Kevin Bowen and Jake Query and news had just gotten out that Eberflus was the guy and my immediate thought was a groan. Everyone laughed. I have nothing against Eberflus, but like Colts fans, the last image I have of Eberflus was the defense running down their collective leg in a must-win game against the Jaguars in the franchise’s worst loss in history. Not exactly the lasting memory you want to have of a guy who will now be in charge of a team with what you hope is the franchise’s first legit quarterback. On the list of candidates I initially saw, Eberflus was near the bottom of it along with Jim Caldwell and Leslie Frazier. That said, I’m keeping an open mind. Would I have preferred an offensive minded coach like Brian Daboll or Eric Bieniemy? Of course I would, but that’s also because I’m sick of watching the Bears play a 1940’s version of offense in 2022. I’m hoping that Eberflus has a damn good offensive coordinator lined up who can develop and protect Justin Fields. A guy who can run a modern offense and that will actually be around for a few seasons so Fields isn’t learning a new system every other year. The early word of what type of guy they may me looking at is already getting me excited.
— Aaron Leming (@AaronLemingNFL) January 27, 2022
I’ll put in a vote for San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Matt McDaniel, who not only seems to fit the bill for “modern offensive mind” from the Shanahan coaching tree, but also can pull a Mike Jones reference with ease.
“WHO?! Mike Jones!” pic.twitter.com/rNCzlBTLQA
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) January 19, 2022
New General Manager Ryan Poles, by all accounts, made this hire on his own. Eberflus was his call and I am willing to give him and Coach Flus the benefit of the doubt. I want nothing more than for both of them to be successful and in Chicago for years to come, but I’ve been burnt many times before so I’m a bit scarred. My faith in the last Ryan and Matt pairing still has me waking in cold sweats on some evenings. Like I said though, clean slate. For now.
Where Both Teams Go Now
The Colts and Bears both have a ton of questions in the off-season, the Bears decisions likely coming quicker than those in Indy. Eberflus will organize his staff and we should have a much better picture of what the Bears offense, and specifcially Justin Fields, will have to work with going forward. For the Colts, it’s a bit murkier with a ton of questions that could take awhile to get answered:
– Will the team make a decision on Carson Wentz before March 19 (the day he’s due $13.3 million if he remains on the roster)
– If not Wentz, who at quarterback
– Who will be defensive coordinator
-Will Chris Ballard finally spend in free agency
-Quenton Nelson is due a massive contract, will he get it in Indy
There are so many questions and so much time to figure it all out between now and the start of next season but one thing is for sure, both the Colts and Bears are going through massive changes and they historically don’t mind being bedfellows during those changes.