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Matt Eberflus is calling the shots on defense now.
The Bears’ coach took over as the defensive play caller in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Alan Williams didn’t travel with the team due to personal reasons. Eberflus will continue that role now that Williams is no longer a part of the Bears organization.
“Yeah. It is where it is,” Eberflus said on Friday. “This is the best thing for right now. I think that’s where it is. It’s the best thing for our football team and for our organization. That’s where we see it and that’s where it is.”
Eberflus also mentioned that he feels “very comfortable with calling the defenses and being the head coach.” Just like Eberflus feeling comfortable in his role, his players are also having that same reaction with him calling the plays.
T.J. Edwards, who is in his first season with the Bears, is one of many players who has seamlessly adapted to Eberflus as the play caller.
“I feel like he’s such a detailed guy,” Edwards said. “He’s going to let you know throughout the week kinda what he is feeling, what he is comfortable with, what he likes. So as a player, it puts you in comfort as well cause you know what to expect in terms of when the game comes. Kinda what he is thinking. I thought it was really smooth the way he operated. Meeting was smooth. It was great, man, honestly. The plan was really, really good.”
Jaquan Brisker also has felt that comfortability with Eberflus — which he said is also having a positive impact on the field.
“It’s his defense, so he knows the ins and outs,” Brisker said. “He lets us know what we’re going to do throughout the week. What he likes, what he doesn’t like. We are kinda anticipating the calls he is going to make, so we’re kinda anticipating the play. So that helps us on the field play faster. His energy, his detail like the discipline of it. You know all of it, I love it. I love Eberflus calling and doing what he is doing right now. We’re going to continue to get better as a defense.”
When several defensive players were asked what Eberflus brings to the defense as a play caller, one word kept coming up: aggression.
“He’s an aggressive dude,” Edwards said. “He wants to go get em. A linebacker at heart. He likes that part of the game. I thought he has been really clear in what he wants. How he sees things and a good job of mixing in pressures but also knowing when to play coverage.”
In the 27-17 loss to the Buccaneers, the Bears showed different looks and blitzed more than they did against Green Bay. As a result, the Bears generated 21 quarterback hurries compared to just four in Week1, according to Pro Football Focus.
“Flus is just aggressive,” Josh Blackwell said. “That’s just his mindset. I think that’s what he wants in his defense. So, yeah, definitely. We appreciate that and enjoy that. Like I said, that’s the energy he brings and that just kind of resonates with us. We just kinda like the energy and kind of match it.”
Rookie defensive lineman Gervon Dexter also called Eberflus an “aggressive coach.” And that type of aggressive mindset is valued on the defense.
“I mean I think it’s important and also knowing when to be that and when to play some more coverage so that we can kinda blanket everywhere,” Edwards said. “I think he has a done a really good job of that. Just kind of understanding just play to his players’ strengths. I think that’s big time for a coordinator. He wants us to dictate and that’s what you want as a defense. You want to go dictate the game, so it’s big time.”
Eberflus taking over as the defensive play caller has been a smooth transition so far, and a majority of the players like what they have seen, but none of it will matter if there aren’t positive results on the football field and ultimately in the win column.
Sometimes you have to do things yourself, and that’s exactly what Eberflus is doing to try and get his team its first win of the season.
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