During their three seasons together as Dallas Cowboys assistants, new Bears coach Matt Eberflus made a very positive impression on Rod Marinelli.
"Start off with the person," Marinelli told ChicagoBears.com. "He's a terrific family guy. [He's] upbeat, hard-working. That's what jumped out to me. He's everything you want; how he carries himself, discipline. He's got great communication skills. I think all of those things build into a head football coach."
Marinelli witnessed those traits firsthand in 2013 when he was hired by the Cowboys and tasked with switching the Dallas defensive scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Entering his third year as the team's linebackers coach, Eberflus assisted Marinelli with the transition and continued to coach in Dallas through 2017.
"He's such a bright guy," said Marinelli, who joined the Cowboys after spending four seasons with the Bears as defensive line coach (2009) and defensive coordinator (2010-12) under coach Lovie Smith. "I wanted to go back to the original Tampa system, and we just kind of got our heads together.
"He just really took off and grew. You've got to be demanding on players in the right way and he did a terrific job in that area. The whole system's about details and execution and teaching, and he really took off and flourished."
Eberflus, 51, possesses 30 years of coaching experience, 13 in the NFL and 17 in college. He spent the past four seasons as Colts defensive coordinator.
"He's a terrific teacher, and not just for the players," Marinelli said. "I believe he'll do a great job of teaching the staff exactly what he wants so that everybody is on the exact same page."
“He’s going to take that franchise, put it on his back and help lead that franchise.” Rod Marinelli on new Bears coach Matt Eberflus
Although Eberflus has never previously served as a head coach, Marinelli is convinced that his former colleague will excel in that role with the Bears.
"I think he'll rely on his intelligence," Marinelli said. "He's very consistent, and he'll take time to make good decisions. I feel very strongly about that. And he's a leader. He's going to take that franchise, put it on his back and help lead that franchise."