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Potential LA Chargers head coach profile: Matt Eberflus

Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus speaks to the media during the Colts mandatory minicamp at the Colts Complex on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.
Colts Minicamp
Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus speaks to the media during the Colts mandatory minicamp at the Colts Complex on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. Colts Minicamp
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Colts DC Matt Eberflus will interview for the LA Chargers head coaching gig. What’s his background?

Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus will interview with the LA Chargers next week following the Colts’ playoff game against the Bills:

The #Chargers have requested permission to speak with #Colts DC Matt Eberflus, source said. That’s three for him.

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 4, 2021

The Jets and Texans are the other two teams who put out interview requests for Eberflus.

The most notable thing on Eberflus’ resume to me is how quickly he made Indianapolis’ defense a powerhouse.  In 2017, Indianapolis ranked 29th in total defense. When Eberflus got there in 2018, they then ranked 11th. 2020 left no doubt in his defensive scheming abilities as the Colts are officially a top 10 defensive team in the league. They ranked eighth in total defense.

Indianapolis has been doing it all with a relatively inexperienced group too. The Colts are the fifth-youngest team in the league by player age. That means they’ve been getting quality defensive development from their drafts.

Darius Leonard, Anthony Walker, and Bobby Okereke make up a starting linebacker that’s all 25 and under. They’ve allowed Indianapolis to have the 2nd best run defense in the league.

The same is true for many of the players at the secondary level. Julian Blackmon, Khari Willis, and Kenny Moore II force fumbles, INTs, and get after receivers at the third level. Blackmon is obviously a rookie, but Willis and Moore are just two years older than him.

Eberflus also tends to pick the right veteran defensive players to take a chance on. His bet on Xavier Rhodes has paid off and probably revived Rhodes’ career. The same can be said for Justin Houston, who many thought would tail off in pass-rushing ability following his departure from Kansas City.

Getting the best out of all players, young or old, is truly what’s impressive about Eberflus. Avoiding statistical defensive regression is really hard but the Colts stay on top of the draft, free agency, and wherever else they might find plug and play talent to develop.

Anyone clamoring for an experienced head coach would be getting one here. Eberflus has been in football for 28 years since his start at Toledo and just finished his 12th NFL season. It’s a larger football resume than many of his colleagues that are also getting interviews.

So, we know he built a terrific Colts’ defense, can get the best out of players and has a high level of experience. What’s the holdup?

Eberflus may not be exactly what the LA Chargers are looking for as he isn’t offensively oriented. Yes, Tom Telesco did stress in yesterday’s press conference that defensive coaches can and have developed quarterbacks. While hiring a defensive coordinator is plausible, it’s not probable in comparison to the odds of hiring a Brian Daboll, Eric Bieniemy, or Arthur Smith.

Justin Herbert has become the top priority this offseason. Tom Telesco and the Spanos family are looking for someone that can take their quarterback to the next level.

It’s totally understandable as to why front offices associate offensive guys with developing quarterbacks, but I have a hard time believing that Eberflus or Robert Saleh wouldn’t be able to develop Herbert with the right staff in place. Especially when you consider Eberflus’ record for developing young defensive talent, which we went over before.

Ultimately, Eberflus is probably on the second tier of coaching candidates for the Chargers. He’s a really solid coordinator that can fix a defense overnight. I’m fully bought into what he could do for this team, but he may just not be what they’re looking for.

Next. Coaching Profile: Joe Brady

If they don’t reach an agreement with a Daboll, Smith, or Urban Meyer type, it could be Eberflus. I just don’t think he’ll be that hotly pursued by them from the get-go.

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