The debacle that Matt Eberflus had in front of the media when he failed to clarify Justin Fields’ medical status earlier this season made me think he was totally unfit to be an NFL head coach. Perhaps I should’ve learned my lesson from Nick “Systems” Sirianni’s infamous opening presser for the Eagles. Winning at the podium doesn’t always translate to winning over the locker room, or fielding a competitive football team.
Up until that point, Eberflus looked destined to be the next fired head coach, or at least part of this offseason’s layoffs. Then the Montez Sweat trade happened. Then the Bears started playing very real defense. Somehow they aren’t yet mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. And I know I just said I’d hesitate to put as much stock into any off-field stuff when it comes to this guy, but I gotta say, the ‘Flus is loose when it comes to the swagged-up nicknames he’s developed for his players:
Couldn’t tell you how this footage came to be. It’s glorious nonetheless. If my eyes and ears don’t betray me, let me give you the breakdown of Eberflus’ call-outs:
Safety Jaquan Brisker — “Mako”
Nickel corner Kyler Gordon — “Spidey”
Stud CB1 Jaylon Johnson — “Dragonslayer”
Safety Eddie Jackson — “Bo Jack”
Cornerback Terell Smith — “Smitty”
Linebacker Jack Sanborn — “Sandman”
Linebacker TJ Edwards — “Hitman”
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds — “Predator”
Star pass-rusher Montez Sweat — “Beast”
Defensive tackle Gervon Dexter Sr. — “Dino Dex”
Defensive end DeMarcus Walker — “D-Walk”
Defensive tackle Andrew Billings — “Juggernaut”
Right tackle Darnell Wright — “D-Wright”
Quarterback Justin Fields — “One”
Quarterback Tyson Bagent — “Bay”
Running back Roschon Johnson — “Governor”
Fullback Khari Blasingame — “KB”
Wide receiver Tyler Scott — “T-Scott”
Wide receiver/return man Velus Jones Jr. — “V12”
HOOOOOH. Got through it. Some of these are more creative than others — initials, jersey numbers, minor variations on names, etc. — but there are some real standouts here. “Dragonslayer” for Jaylon Johnson is my personal favorite. “Mako” as in mako shark (reaches up to 45 mph at top speed) for Jaquan Brisker is dope. Brisker is a speedy safety and the gridiron equivalent of a heat-seeking missile. “Predator” is aporpos for the dreaded-out appearance and play demeanor of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.
Gervon Dexter Sr.’s “Dino Dex” easily takes the cake for coolest rookie nickname. I love, too, how Montez Sweat is just “Beast.” That works just fine for the man who’s almost single-handedly transformed the team’s defense and bolstered Eberflus’ job security to an exponential degree.
Eberflus seems to have full buy-in from his guys, which is no small feat given that he still has a 9-23 record in spite of Chicago’s recent 4-2 run.
The only losses in that span were by five points to the NFC North champion Lions, and by three points to the Joe Flacco-led Browns, who have the NFL’s No. 1 defense. It took a dropped/kicked — not to be confused with dropkick — would-be Hail Mary catch by Darnell Mooney to lose against Cleveland. The Bears were also up 26-14 in Detroit after a Cairo Santos field goal with 4:15 left in the fourth quarter.
Look at how Justin Fields was dancing at the time! The heartbreak…
In other words, it’s not at all outlandish to say Chicago could easily be on a six-game winning streak right now, with an 8-7 record and tied with the Rams and Seahawks for a Wild Card spot. How crazy is that?
Since we’re operating in reality, though, we can’t credit Eberflus with those accomplishments. His otherwise excellent defense of late blew that Lions game. Thus, his player monikers are the next-best thing going unless that 1% chance at the postseason comes to fruition.
I can’t believe how an offense so schematically deficient and assignment-poor as that of the Bears could stay afloat well enough to even come that close to an 8-7 record. Plus, Fields was out for several weeks, creating a starting shot for rookie undrafted Division II QB Tyson Bagent. Just think what Eberflus might be able to do with a better offensive coordinator than Luke Getsy and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft replacing Fields under center.
Not that it’ll happen, but in case you’re curious, check out Peter Schrager’s breakdown on how the Bears can still make the playoffs.