Matt Eberflus is the new coach of the Chicago Bears, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press, tasked with turning around a franchise mired in mediocrity for much of the past decade.
The person confirmed the move to the AP on the condition of anonymity Thursday because there had been no announcement by the Bears.
Eberflus has spent the lastfour years as Indianapolis’ defensive coordinator, helping turn around a unit that ranked among the league’s worst. The Colts ranked eighth on defense in 2020, though they slipped to 16th this season.
Indianapolis missed the playoffs at 9-8, closing with two straight losses when a win in either game would have clinched a postseason berth.
The hire is the first big move for new Bears general manager Ryan Poles, who took over on Tuesday. Poles and Eberflus are first-timers in their respective positions in the NFL.
The Bears fired general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy after a 6-11 season, hoping new leadership will lift a struggling franchise. They brought in Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian to lead a five-person search team that also included chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips.
The first big question for Eberflus is his offensive coordinator, since a big part of the job for the new coach and GM will be solidifying the quarterback position that has haunted the founding NFL franchise for decades.
That likely means figuring out a way to get the most out of Justin Fields and surrounding him with the cast to help him develop. The former Ohio State star had a shaky rookie season, though he also showed potential.
Broncos finalizing deal with Hackett
The Denver Broncos are finalizing a deal to hire Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their head coach, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told the Associated Press on Thursday.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal was still in the works and the team hasn’t made an announcement.
Hiring Hackett would raise speculation that the Broncos were trying to lure star Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to Denver, perhaps along with his star receiver Davante Adams, who is set to hit free agency in March.
Hackett, 42, worked with quarterback Blake Bortles as Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator from 2016-18 before he went to Green Bay and helped Matt LaFleur win a record 39 games in his first three seasons as head coach.
Hackett, who is the son of former college and NFL coach Paul Hackett, would inherit a young, talented roster in Denver, where he flew in for a second interview on Monday. He was the only finalist to get a second in-person interview in Denver.
General manager George Paton interviewed 10 candidates to replace Vic Fangio, whom he fired after a disappointing 7-10 season, Denver’s sixth consecutive without a playoff berth.