Neither overwhelming nor underwhelming, new coach Matt Eberflus might be exactly what the Bears need to restore respectability after the sputtering end of the Matt Nagy era.
Eberflus doesn’t have the cachet of some candidates, such as Super Bowl winner Doug Pederson or successful former head coaches Dan Quinn, Jim Caldwell and Brian Flores. He also doesn’t have the question marks of Nathaniel Hackett or Byron Leftwich.
What Eberflus has, in addition to three decades of coaching experience, is a reputation for approaching this like the business it is. There’s no need for anything corny, such as hanging a disco ball in the locker room for Club Dub, which feels awfully silly after you’ve eked out a last-second victory against the Lions to improve to 4-7.
So while Eberflus is unexciting in some ways, maybe that’s ideal. A straightforward, simple approach is what the Bears need right now as they embark on a substantial rebuild.
The book on Eberflus is less fun, more setting standards and demanding adherence to them.
Nagy talked a good game when it came to standards, but he struggled to uphold them.
Remember when he made ‘‘sweeping the shed’’ a thing? It was his effort to build a culture of doing everything — down to the smallest responsibilities — the right way at Halas Hall. Then he threw his hands up powerlessly when asked why he, as boss, couldn’t get defensive lineman Akiem Hicks to fulfill his media obligations last summer.
Nagy talked about expectations constantly when it came to receiver Anthony Miller, but he continued to tolerate his inattentiveness and ultimately watched him punch his ticket out of Chicago by getting ejected from a playoff game.
If Eberflus comes in with big talk about discipline, details and dedication, he must stick to it or he’ll foster similar dysfunction.
Eberflus also must understand an essential truth that often evaded Nagy: In news conferences, even one on a random Thursday, the head coach is speaking to the fan base. And this happens to be a fan base with zero tolerance for bluster.
Nagy is a smart guy, but he often made himself sound clueless with rambling, empty answers to key questions, such as, ‘‘Why doesn’t your offense work?’’
If Eberflus starts giving explanations such as, ‘‘It’s no one’s fault other than everybody’s,’’ this won’t go very well. And it’s going to be difficult for him as a defensive-minded coach who constantly will have to answer questions about developing the offense as a whole and quarterback Justin Fields specifically.
Think back to when Nagy needlessly prolonged a controversy in 2019 by ducking and dodging and giving everything but a straight answer about why he didn’t get kicker Eddy Pineiro an ideal spot for the winning field-goal try he missed against the Chargers.
That mess could have been cleaned up in five minutes if he only had been honest and admitted there was a miscommunication. Instead, it hung like a stench in the room for four days.
Eberflus would be wise to do it differently, starting with his introductory news conference. It’s always a debate whether someone ‘‘won’’ a news conference. That shouldn’t be his goal. It shouldn’t even be a thought.
He should be concise and businesslike. Nagy was polite and patient, but he wasn’t either of those things. And that’s what the Bears badly need.