Lake Forest, IL— With the Chicago Bears officially hiring Matt Eberflus, the defensive mind will be tasked with getting the Bears back to prominence. With rookie quarterback Justin Fields on the roster, Eberflus already answered the Bears’ biggest question: Who would be the offensive coordinator to develop Fields and rebuild the Bears’ offense?
Eberflus opted to hire Luke Getsy, the Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator in 2021. But the question also has to be asked: Considering Eberflus was the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator from 2018-2021, what will be expected of the Bears on the defensive side of the ball?
Looking at the Colts’ draft history and scheme, Eberflus runs a 4-3 defense with four defensive linemen, three linebackers, and four defensive backs. As the Bears look towards 2022, an aging defense will need to be rebuilt but with limited draft capital, the Bears will have to be cautious about how to go about rebuilding a defense that needs an infusion of young talent.
Let’s breakdown Eberflus’ time with the Colts and look at what to expect moving forward.
The Colts draft classes.
2018: Darius Leonard, Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Matthew Adams, Zaire Franklin. – Four second-rounders and two seventh-rounders. All five are still with the Colts.
2019: Rock Ya-Sin, Ben Banogu, Bobby Okereke, Khari Willis, Marvell Tell III, E.J. Speed, Gerri Green. Three-day two picks and four-day three picks. All of these players, besides Green, spent 2021 with the Colts.
2020: Julian Blackmon, Robert Windsor, Isaiah Rodgers, Jordan Glasgow. One day two pick and three defensive players were selected on day three. All four names are still with Indianapolis.
2021: Kwity Paye, Dayo Odeyingbo, Shawn Davis. One first-round pick, one second-round pick, and a fifth-round pick. All three are still with the Colts.
So since 2018, the Colts have drafted 19 players on defense, with just one being a first-round pick. 18 of these 19 players are still on the roster and a majority of the Colts starters over the last four seasons have been mid-round picks. That alone should mean something to the Bears, who can only get younger by drafting and developing talent.
So what’s next for the Bears?
Under Eberflus, the Bears will transition to a 4-3 defense after having been in a 4-3 defense since 2015. While a change in scheme usually is met with overhauling the defensive side of the ball and acquiring new talent, players such as Robert Quinn, Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, and Trevis Gipson are transcendent and will fit flawlessly.
For additional context, Quinn and Mack have played in 4-3 defenses during their times with the Rams and Raiders. Meanwhile, Gipson was a 4-3 defensive end in college who was forced to become an outside linebacker after being drafted by the Bears. Smith is a perennial off ball linebacker who can fly around and make plays, making him a perfect fit for Eberflus’ defensive philosophy.
The Bears do need to overhaul the secondary. While Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson are the only projected starters in 2022, 2021 sixth-round pick Thomas Graham Jr. is a name to watch as an early starter in 2022. Eberflus’ background includes coaching defensive backs, so the Bears secondary should see an improvement heading into the 2022 season, especially with a complete overhaul likely on the way.
As the Bears continue to lay the foundation for the future under Eberflus, the defense should get back to playing faster and with more intensity, continuing to make impact plays, hopefully getting back to being of the NFL’s best.