Matt Eberflus first showed up on radars at Toledo, where he became a graduate assistant in 1992 after a successful playing career playing under Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel. At Toledo, Eberflus worked under Pinkel and then Rockets-DC Dean Pees as an assistant. After Pees left to coach at Notre Dame, Eberflus became the outside linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator, a position he held till 1999. He spent his last two years at Toledo coaching defensive backs and helped guide Toledo to finishing 3rd in the NCAA in scoring defense in 2000. Eberflus followed Pinkel to Missouri as his defensive coordinator and secondary coach from 2001 to 2008. While at Missouri, Eberflus started using the “Tampa 2” defense he’s found so much success with in the NFL. He and Lovie Smith often compared notes about the system.
Eberflus’s NFL journey starts in 2009 when then-Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini hired Eberflus to be his linebackers coach under Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan. Mangini was looking for coaches to fill out his staff and Eberflus’s name popped up on his radars as an up-and-coming coach from the college ranks. Eberflus and Mangini met one morning at 9 AM, and Eberflus didn’t leave till 1 AM. He was offered the job before he left.
It was an adjustment for Eberflus. He was rooted in the stable Tampa 2 while Rob Ryan’s scheme was chaotic and frenzied, designed for confusing offenses and generating big plays. The defense didn’t produce well enough to keep Mangini and his staff around, but Eberflus took what he learned from Ryan’s defense and added it to his own experience.
Eberflus followed Rob Ryan to Dallas, where he was the linebackers coach under Jason Garrett from 2011 to 2015. Eberflus coached some outstanding players like Demarcus Ware, Sean Lee, and Anthony Spencer to Pro Bowl seasons in his first few years. Eberflus also developed linebackers like Bruce Carter, Rolando McClain, and Anthony Hitchens while in Dallas, and in 2014, his linebackers combined for 10 interceptions. In 2016, Eberflus was promoted to passing game coordinator/linebackers coach for Dallas.
Dallas’s defense under Eberflus was consistently among the best against the run, year-in and year-out. Eberflus also helped Jaylon Smith have the best years of his career in a rapid bounce-back from a career-threatening injury. Is it a coincidence that Smith fell off after Eberflus left?
His success in Dallas caught the eyes of many coaches, but notably, it caught the attention of new Colts’ General Manager Chris Ballard. Ballard was a scout for the Bears under Lovie Smith and was very familiar with Eberflus’s scheme. When he hired Josh McDaniels, he made sure to include Eberflus with that However, McDaniels backed off of his pledge in a stunning move that left many in Indianapolis feeling struck. When Chris Ballard hired Frank Reich, he assured Eberflus he would be remaining as his Defensive Coordinator.
What a smart decision that has turned out to be. Eberflus has helped coach Darius Leonard into one of the most impactful defenders in the NFL. He helped turn around the Colts defense from one of the worst in the league to one of the best. Eberflus’s defenses have kept the Colts in the playoff hunt over the years, despite an ever-changing quarterback room. His ability to develop and maximize talent in Indianapolis has been noteworthy.
Like a few other coaches on this list, Eberflus doesn’t share an obvious connection with George Paton. However, AJ Durso, the Broncos’ Director of Pro Personnel, was a pro scout for the Browns in Eberflus’s last year in Cleveland. The Broncos and Paton have to be aware of his consistent success across the league, especially in their own conference.
Potential Offensive Coordinator hires: Mike Groh, Indianapolis Colts Wide Receivers coach; Press Taylor, Indianapolis Colts Senior Offensive Assistant; Kevin Patullo, Philadelphia Eagles Passing Game Coordinator
Potential Defensive Coordinator hires: Dave Borgonzi, Indianapolis Colts Linebackers coach; Alan Williams, Indianapolis Colts Defensive Backs/Safeties coach
Would you like it if the Broncos hired Matt Eberflus as their next head coach?
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