Bears HC Matt Eberflus takes shot at Roquan Smith after trade

Matt Eberflus had some words about Roquan Smith

Roquan Smith’s trade to the Baltimore Ravens captured the surprise of many of the Chicago Bears fanbase. Smith was one of the most productive Bears linebackers in his first five seasons in the NFL. Coming into the 2022 season, his tackle and tackles for loss numbers were on par with Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis from Smith’s previous two years. This season, Smith was the NFL’s leading tackler with 83 tackles. However, it appears the All-Pro linebacker wasn’t the greatest fit with head coach Matt Eberflus.

Eberflus didn’t think Smith compares to Shaquille Leonard

During Wednesday’s press conference, Eberflus was asked by reporters why Smith wasn’t as valuable to the Bears’ defense as Shaquille Leonard was to the Colts’ defense that Eberflus was the coordinator of prior. (Leonard was made the highest-paid linebacker last season when Eberflus was there.) Eberflus answer was telling as to why the Bears and Smith couldn’t come to an agreement. It caught the beat reporter’s attention.

“I would say that when you look at that [Smith and Leonard being compared as All-Pro linebackers], we always base things on numbers and production,” Eberflus said. “To us, we covet ball production in that position. So that right there is a very important thing that Will linebacker needs to do.”

Probably the most telling words on the Roquan Smith trade came today from Matt Eberflus, who clearly doesn’t see Roquan as an apples-to-apples comp to Shaquille Leonard: “We covet ball production in that position. That is a very important thing that WILL linebacker needs to do.”

Between the lines, Eberflus is saying by “ball production” that Smith needs to be better in pass coverage and have more takeaways. Smith’s pass coverage is rated at just 44.4 by Pro Football Focus this season. He leaves Chicago after only coming up with seven interceptions and one forced fumble. Smith also had one fumble recovery during his five seasons with the Bears.

Matt Eberflus talked about potentially drafting Smith in Indianapolis

Matt Eberflus was asked if he would have advocated for the Colts to take Smith at sixth if they hadn’t chosen Quenton Nelson during the 2018 draft. (Smith was selected by then Bears general manager Ryan Pace two spots later at eight.) Eberflus appeared to hold back a chuckle has he gave his response.

“Yeah. I don’t think we, at that time, [Colts general manager Chris Ballard] was in the business of taking a off-the-ball linebacker at eight. I don’t think I could have convinced him of that,” Eberflus said.

“When you were in Indy in 2018, you guys had a very high draft pick. If they hadn’t taken Quinten Nelson…we’re you advocating for Roquan?”
Interesting how the usually well spoken Matt Eberflus stutters and expresses surprise when asked this question.
Gotta watch it.

Not sure if that was more directed at Pace or Smith. Both put Matt Eberflus in a hole to start his head coaching career with the Bears.

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