As soon as they began working together in Indianapolis, Frank Reich believed that Matt Eberflus possessed the attributes to become an NFL head coach.
"I felt that from Day 1," Reich told the Chicago media Tuesday on Zoom, five days after Eberflus was named the 17th head coach in Bears history.
The two were paired with the Colts in 2018, Reich as head coach and Eberflus as defensive coordinator. Immediately, Reich was impressed with Eberflus' conviction, intensity, leadership and adaptability.
"Matt's coaching style is he's very intentional about every move," Reich said. "There's clear standards, there's a clear process and there's a clear vision of what it's going to take. He's not a big yeller and screamer, but he has an intensity. You get around 'Flus,' [you] feel the intensity.
"He's very thoughtful and deliberate in his communication. There's not going to be a lot of fluff. He's not going to play games; he's going to be direct. He's going to stick to what he believes in."
Reich was named Colts coach Feb 11, 2018, five days after Josh McDaniels changed his mind after accepting the job. Eberflus was hired as defensive coordinator before McDaniels backed out, but remained in place when Reich took over. The two men bonded over faith, family and, of course, football.
"There was a real quick connection," Reich said. "Both very principle-centered, family-oriented, obviously love everything about ball. Both connected on a faith basis. Different ways of expressing that; I'm maybe a little bit louder with that than 'Flus' would be, but the commonality there was really good.
"I think we were both very process-oriented. We live in a results-oriented business, but the importance of practicing hard, the importance of practicing at game speed, we were both very linked up right there. So, that made it easy for us to grow in that relationship over the four years."
Reich praised Eberflus Tuesday for playing a huge role in helping create a winning culture with the Colts and the sizeable impact he made on the organization.
"I just think the world of Matt personally and professionally," Reich said.
Under Eberflus, the Colts finished in the top 10 in the NFL in run defense and takeaways in all four of his years, top 10 in points allowed three times, and were the least penalized defense in the league in 2019 and 2021.
"He's going to play his system, and it was very methodical," Reich said. "There was a progression to it, which I think is important. The other thing I think is important that I saw over the four years is he adapted, which is what we all want to do as coaches. You've got to adapt to what your players do best. You've got to adapt to what the offense is doing.
"Flus has shown a good ability to come in with a system, and really 'let's nail down these fundamental principles, but then let's also be willing to adapt. And let's also have a vision to incorporate that into what our players do best and how we counter what we're seeing from the opposing team.'"
“He’s very thoughtful and deliberate in his communication. There’s not going to be a lot of fluff. He’s not going to play games; he’s going to be direct.” Colts coach Frank Reich on new Bears coach Matt Eberflus
Although this is the first time that Eberflus has been a head coach, Reich is confident that his former defensive coordinator will excel in the role—just as the Colts coach suspected when he first started working with Eberflus.
"It's a big job, right?" Reich said. "It's too much for one person. You've got to hire people that you believe in and that you trust. And then you have to be willing to delegate and empower people to carry out the vision.
"It's not going to be perfect. You're going to make mistakes. You've got to have patience. You've really got to have deep conviction because you're going to make some mistakes along the way, you're going to learn along the way. So, you've got to be willing to give yourself some grace along the way, give others some grace, but you also have to drive the ship. You have to stay the course.
"You have to lead in a way that is very clear, that people understand where this is going. But it has to be 'us' doing it together. Flus is going to do a great job of that. I couldn't be more excited for him and his family. It's such an incredible opportunity, well-deserved for him. And I think that Bears fans are going to see what leadership looks like and [Eberflus will] demonstrate it over the course of the years to come."
Get an exclusive look inside the Bears practice facility at GM Ryan Poles & coach Matt Eberflus signing their contracts, meeting the Chicago media and making their way through their first days on the job.