The Chicago Bears on Thursday hired Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to be the franchise's 17th head coach.
Eberflus spent four seasons as the Colts' defensive coordinator (2018-2021), during which his defenses were consistently among the best in the NFL.
"I'm thankful and appreciative of the opportunity to coach with Matt over these past four seasons," head coach Frank Reich said. "I learned a tremendous amount from him, and I respect the way he led our defensive unit. We played aggressive and with great discipline and consistently were a top 10 team at taking the ball away. I appreciate all Matt has done for the Colts and I'm excited for his opportunity with the Bears. I think he'll do a fantastic job."
The Colts were a top-10 scoring defense in three of Eberflus' four seasons in Indianapolis, and had a top-10 takeaway total every season from 2018-2021. That emphasis on takeaways culminated with 33 in 2021, the second-most in the NFL.
"Matt is an outstanding leader and a man of strong conviction," general manager Chris Ballard said. "There is a standard that must be met by the players he coaches, and he does a fantastic job targeting their strengths while putting them in the best position to succeed. Upon his arrival to Indianapolis, he made immediate gains with our defense and consistently had our unit ranked toward the top of the league. We knew it was only a matter of time before he became a head coach, and he is extremely deserving of this opportunity. Chicago will love Matt's intensity, dedication, and his desire to win."
Under the watch of Eberflus — whose defensive background is in coaching linebackers — Darius Leonard blossomed into a perennial All-Pro and one of the most accomplished ballhawks at any position in the league. Leonard in 2021 became the only player in NFL history to force eight or more fumbles and interception four or more passes; after four seasons, he ranks eighth on the Colts' all-time tackle leaderboard.
During Eberflus' tenure, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner earned his first-career first-team All-Pro honor in 2020 while Kenny Moore II developed into one of the league's most versatile cornerbacks, culminating in his first career Pro Bowl selection in 2021. Eberflus said prior to the 2021 season the most important positions in his defense are the three-technique (Buckner), WILL linebacker (Leonard) and slot corner (Moore); all three players, among others, have flourished in his scheme.
"He has a clear vision of what he wants to do schematically and how he wants to do it, how he wants to coach it," Reich told Colts.com prior to the 2021 season. "I love the fact that 'Flus has a clear set of standards, expectations for how we're going to play defense by each position, what that looks like, what that means, what it takes to get there. So I think 'Flus paints a very clear picture of what's required and what we're trying to do on defense.
"The other thing I appreciate about 'Flus is he's very consistent with every position, with every player, the standards are the standards and nobody's getting special treatment. This is how we gotta play defense and so let's hold ourselves to this standard."
Eberflus is the second of Reich's former coordinators to be hired as a head coach, joining ex-offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, who was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021.