Bears coach Matt Eberflus spoke exclusively to ChicagoBears.com senior writer Larry Mayer Thursday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The following is a transcript of their conversation:
LM: Now as a head coach instead of a defensive coordinator, how has your role changed in terms of draft preparation and specifically the Combine?
ME: "First and foremost, you have media responsibilities. That's part of the job. I have a lot of friends in the media that I've talked to over the years and gotten to be acquaintances and all that, so it's been good to catch up with those guys as well. And then just your big vision for the football team. You're looking at not only the defensive side or special teams; now you're looking at offensive linemen and tight ends and the whole gamut there on offense. That's been refreshing to me. To see the offensive guys coach and do their interviews with the college players, that's been pretty cool."
LM: You and general manager Ryan Poles have talked about finding players who work extremely hard and have a passion for the game. Have you developed a profile for the traits you're seeking at each position and how have you communicated that to Ryan and the personnel department?
ME: "What you do is you basically take the best of the best in the league at each position and that's your profile. A lot of times they come in different shapes and sizes, and that's OK. But what are the attributes that you're looking for in that position? And then how do you translate that to the college game? Does he translate to those positions, and can you see it on tape? So, you have a bunch of different tape, but a lot of it's the best players in the league. It's the top of that, and then you have other examples throughout the course of the league. That's what you do."
LM: What have you enjoyed most about preparing for free agency and the draft?
ME: "Just getting together. We have time in the afternoons and we give our time to the scouts. In the morning we do all scheme and then in the afternoons, from 1 o'clock until whenever, we do our reports for Ryan. We're just really trying to create that vision for the player. The guys do a great job with that. We started with free agency and now we're starting to work on the draft."
LM: Ryan has spoken about having open and honest conversations about players. How would you characterize those discussions?
ME: "That's one of the most important things that Ryan and I are doing. And how you do that is you enable guys to have a voice and they're able to speak their mind on a player and you listen. A lot of times leadership doesn't let you do that. You start to voice your opinion and then all of a sudden they shut you down with a comment or whatever. We've all been a part of that. But we do not want that. We want the guys to be able to voice their opinions, feel like their voice is being heard, and it will be. We value their opinion. That's an important part for Ryan and I."
LM: What type of contact are you permitted to have with Bears players before the voluntary offseason program begins April 4?
ME: "The rules are no football. You cannot talk about football. You can talk about their family life, or what they're doing to enjoy their time off. They might talk about their workout or where they're working out. But that's about it right now. Once we get into April, then we can start talking ball. But I told [executive assistant to the head coach] Robyn [Wilkey] and the rest of the staff, if there's a player in the building, I want to see him and send him up. My door's always open, and I've had some good talks with those guys."
LM: Have you thought about the message you're going to deliver April 4 when the players report for the start of the offseason program?
ME: "I've already started to give my opening message. I've done that with my [introductory] press conference. I do it every chance I get with the media. I'm really speaking to the players more than I'm speaking to anybody else. That's an important part of it. I'm sure they've heard bits and pieces of it. We'll lay it out there on the line. Everything will be up on the table. Everything is clear and concise and everybody can see it. From the ownership to the coaches to the players to every staff member in the building, everybody will see the product we want to see on the field."