Bears coach Matt Eberflus will reunite with several familiar faces this weekend when he returns to Dallas, where he spent seven seasons as a Cowboys assistant.
After starting his NFL coaching career with the Browns for one year, Eberflus joined the Cowboys in 2011 as the team's linebackers coach.
While coaching in Dallas, he also met Rod Marinelli, who Eberflus has called one of the most influential mentors of his career. Marinelli, a longtime NFL defensive coach and former Bears defensive coordinator, went to Dallas in 2013 to become the defensive line coach then served as the defensive coordinator from 2014-2018. His style of coaching was a major influence on Eberflus' "HITS" principle.
While Eberflus said there won't be any different emotions when traveling back to Dallas, he expects a "great atmosphere," while voicing his respect for the organization.
"I can't say enough about the Jones family," Eberflus said. "They're an unbelievable ownership. It's family-oriented. Mr. Jones has been nothing but loyal to me over those years. Seven years is a long time, close relationship with him. Then also Stephen [Jones], obviously a close relationship with him. He's day-to-day working in the business there. Will McClay, the GM, does an outstanding job. So nothing but nice things to say and certainly enjoyed my time when I was there, for sure."
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy also has a tie to the Cowboys, formerly working with Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy in Green Bay. While McCarthy was the Packers' head coach, he hired Getsy in 2014 as an offensive quality control coach, then promoted him to wide receivers coach in 2016.
While Getsy's first stint with the Packers ended after the 2016 season, the coordinator expressed his gratitude for McCarthy.
"He's one of the most influential people in my life, there's no question," Getsy said. "I never had really a desire to be a head coach in my life until I got to sit in his team meetings and look at the way he approached the team, talked to the team, the way he was able to be himself, be humble, be confident, lead men. I mean, he was one of the most impressive men that I've ever got to be around. So he's a huge part of who I am for sure."
Leading yourself: Eberflus had a long visit with Robert Quinn Wednesday after the Bears agreed to trade the veteran to the Eagles for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick. Eberflus gave thanks to Quinn for "everything he did while he was here."
"The relationship that him and I built during the time he was here was outstanding," Eberflus said. "His leadership was great. His work ethic was unbelievable on the field. And he certainly did a lot of great things for the Bears when he was here, so I just want to thank him for that. Strong family man. I really respect Robert Quinn, so I wish him the best of luck with the team he's with now and nothing but the best for him."
The departure of Quinn leaves a team captain position open. Eberflus is in the process of deciding whether or not it will be filled permanently.
While Quinn was undoubtedly one of the team's biggest leaders, Eberflus has confidence in the rest of the team to collectively take over that role.
"I always go back to the messages I always tell the guys is that everyone's a leader," Eberflus said. "The first part of leadership is leading yourself and so we ask all of our guys to lead. I know we have four captains; we've got our leadership council and all that, but to me, everybody leads, and they do a good job of that. They do a good job of encouraging each other, being there for each other as teammates, and that's what we expect. That's no different than if it was him or anybody else. I think we have strong leadership inside the locker room and throughout the entire team, from the first man all the way to the last guy. And we have strong leadership in our coaching staff. We know we are partnering with the players, working with those guys to form the Chicago Bears, so I don't really see that as big of a weight or a disruption as most people would see it as because of who we are and the men we have in the locker room."
"Everybody, like I said, is leading themselves first," Eberflus said. "You lead through performance and then when you need to say something, you say it. When it's needed. But you mostly lead by action. People get inspired by your actions, how you execute and the way you play the game more than words. Sometimes words are needed but that's not that often."
The Bears hit the Halas Hall practice fields Thursday afternoon as they get ready for Sunday's matchup with the Cowboys in Dallas.
Schofield excited with new role: Offensive lineman Michael Schofield earned his first start with Bears in Monday night's win, taking over the left guard position as Lucas Patrick moved to center. Schofield, a Chicago native and lifelong Bears fan, said the opportunity to start for the Bears was special and "a moment I'll never forget."
"It's crazy how football plays out," Schofield said. "Yeah, just with how everything played out, training camp, getting cut, coming back, not knowing what's gonna happen then end up being a starter. It's definitely a journey for sure, but it's a memorable one."
While Schofield was placed in the starting role on short notice, the 8-year veteran, who has appeared in over 100 NFL games, felt as prepared as always.
"I've started a bunch of games in the NFL," Schofield said. "So I've learned even if I'm not starting, my mind says I'm starting. You gotta be ready, you're always one play away. So when you prepare that way your whole season, your whole career, when the moment comes, you're already prepared. So that's kind of how I've always done it."