Matt Nagy always talked about the grand tradition of the Chicago Bears. He even wore George Halas’ hat to the season opener again Green Bay in 2019. Yet it never really felt like the Chicago Bears head coach truly embraced the tradition of this franchise. Especially when it came to meeting with franchise alumni, he didn’t see it as a point of emphasis to build those inroads. Barely two months into the tenure of Matt Eberflus, and it’s apparent he is a different animal.
The former linebacker-turned-defensive coordinator idolized Dick Butkus growing up. So it is hardly a surprise he jumped at the opportunity to reach out to several Bears legends when he took over in Chicago. During an interview with longtime insider Peter King on his podcast, Eberflus revealed he’d spoken to 30-35 alumni, including his childhood hero. Part of it was to introduce himself and take a chance to utilize their considerable skills.
In fact, he already has plans for one such iconic name.
“Eberflus: Calling the alumni. That was pretty special. You look at your phone and you got Dick Butkus…he texted me back. Then you have Julius Peppers, (Brian) Urlacher, (Lance) Briggs. It’s truly amazing. Tillman. Peanut Tillman. Hopefully he’s coming in for a spring practice to talk to the team. I got him talked into that. So we’ll see.
King: Maybe he can teach them the (Peanut) Punch.
Eberflus: Oh he’s going to. He’s going to.”
It is hardly a surprise that Eberflus would do that. Charles Tillman changed the game of football when he brought the Peanut Punch to the NFL. Before him, defensive backs and linebackers never really focused on forcing fumbles of ball carriers. Tillman showcased how devastating such a skill could be during his ten seasons with the organization. Now everywhere you look around the league, guys are throwing that punch.
Eberflus is installing the Tampa-2 defense again in Chicago. The same system helped Tillman become a superstar in Chicago under Lovie Smith. So it’s only natural the head coach would enlist the former All-Pro to help teach the defense on how to employ this art. A major emphasis will be on turnovers moving forward, so having this knowledge should further that plan.
Matt Eberflus is already ahead of the game compared to others
It has always been odd why previous head coaches haven’t taken advantage of the Bears’ rich tradition. So many great players have come through their doors. Several have said time and again they’re more than ready to lend their knowledge to help the organization win. Yet, for whatever reason, each new regime brushes the idea off. For the new head coach to pull a 180 and embrace the idea is not insignificant.
Matt Eberflus isn’t doing this purely out of nostalgia, either. A wise coach would view Bears alumni as a resource. Something they can use to help make the current generation of players better. Here’s a bunch of guys that reached the very top of the NFL. Maybe they have some tips to offer on how to get there. If certain players are smart enough to listen, that will only help the Bears.
There is no real downside to doing this.
If nothing else, it proves that Eberflus is a competitor and is ready to do whatever it takes to win. Reaching out to past greats might be a small thing, but doing enough small things can lead to a big thing. He understands that. If even one player takes Tillman’s lesson to heart this spring, it could benefit the Bears at a critical moment this fall.
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