Chargers coach candidates: Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus

Matt Eberflus, defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis, on the sidelines.
Matt Eberflus, defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, on the sidelines during the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla.
(Gary McCullough / Associated Press)

As the Chargers search for a new head coach to replace Anthony Lynn, the Los Angeles Times will examine candidates the team plans to interview. This is the sixth in a series of appraisals of the contenders, along with thoughts from NFL writer Sam Farmer:

Matt Eberflus

Current job: Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator.

Age: 50.

Credentials: Eberflus has three years of experience as an NFL defensive coordinator among his 28 total years as a football coach. He has been in the league since 2009, when Cleveland hired him to work with its linebackers. With the Colts, Eberflus’ defenses have finished in the top 10 in points allowed twice. Indianapolis was eighth in total defense in 2020.

Humble beginnings: As a walk-on at Toledo, Eberflus made himself into a three-year starter at linebacker. He then spent his first nine seasons as a coach with the Rockets, advancing from student assistant to graduate assistant to outside linebackers to defensive backs. Eberflus moved on to Missouri, where he spent eight years as the defensive coordinator before jumping to the NFL.


Gus Bradley becomes the Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive coordinator after he served four seasons in the same position with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Jan. 12, 2021

One man’s view: “I’m happy for him at any opportunities he gets. I would fully endorse and support anyone whoever called and asked me about ‘Flus’ as a man, as a leader and as a coach. He is a worthy candidate. Obviously, I don’t want to lose him.” — Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich, via the Indianapolis Star.

Did you know: Eberflus was originally picked to be Indianapolis’ defensive coordinator in 2018 under Josh McDaniels before McDaniels famously backed out as the team’s head coach to return to New England. When Reich was hired instead, the Colts decided to honor Eberflus’ contract and he remained on as defensive coordinator.

Sam Farmer’s take: Eberflus is outstanding when it comes to developing young talent. Linebacker Darius Leonard is the obvious example, but players such as safety Khari Willis, nose tackle Grover Stewart and middle linebacker Anthony Walker all continually got better under his guidance. Eberflus has total autonomy over the Colts defense while Reich is singularly focused on the offense. Eberflus is essentially an assistant head coach, and knows how to establish a winning culture. Win or lose, the Colts consistently play at a high level on defense. His teams are unwaveringly accountable, and his players buy in, even seasoned veterans such as Justin Houston. Eberflus, who has long prepared to be a head coach, something he unflinchingly admits, has a wide range of established mentors such as Lovie Smith, Gary Pinkel and Rod Marinelli. He’s got a plan and won’t be caught flat-footed.

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Jan. 11, 2021