Browns coaching search: 5 things to know about Matt Eberflus

Throughout the Browns' search for a new head coach,_ClevelandBrowns.com_will break down the candidates after their interview with the team is complete. It continues today with a look at Matt Eberflus, who got his first NFL opportunity with the Browns in 2009.

1. Eberflus, in his first season as an NFL defensive coordinator, is the leader of a unit that improved more than any in 2018. The Colts were near the bottom in most defensive categories last season, finishing 30th in total defense (367.3 yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (25.3 points allowed per game). Indianapolis, which went from 4-12 to 10-6 and advanced to the playoffs, finished the 2018 season ranked 11th in total defense (339.4) and 10th in scoring defense (21.5). In their final 10 games -- a stretch in which the team went 9-1 -- the Colts allowed 10 or fewer points on four occasions, including a shutout of the NFC East champion Cowboys. On Saturday, the Colts blanked the Texans in the first three quarters on the way to a 21-7 victory.

2. Eberflus' hiring in Indianapolis is a unique story. Eberflus was picked to be defensive coordinator by Josh McDaniels, who committed to become head coach but ultimately decided to return to New England. The Colts opted to keep Eberflus and two other assistants -- offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo and defensive line coach Mike Phair -- while searching for a new head coach. Frank Reich was tabbed as the head man a few days later, and one of the first things on his to-do list was to get acquainted with his new defensive coordinator. "It really couldn't have worked out any better," Reich said recently. "I know it's crazy. It's really an odd way for it to come together, but it literally couldn't have come together any better.''

3. Eberflus spent 17 seasons at the collegiate level -- working under his former college coach and mentor Gary Pinkel the entire time -- before he made the jump to the NFL. A defensive coordinator for seven seasons at Missouri, Eberflus joined Eric Mangini's defensive staff in Cleveland as a linebackers coach. It wasn't easy for Eberflus, as the Browns lost multiple starting inside linebackers for the year by the midpoint of the 2009 season. Four of his linebackers finished in the top 10 in tackles in 2010.

4. After Mangini's firing, Eberflus landed in Dallas in the same position. He held the title of linebackers coach during his entire, seven-year tenure with the Cowboys but took on additional responsibilities in 2016 and 2017 as the team's passing game coordinator. On top of his meetings with the linebackers, Eberflus spent extra time with the linebackers and defensive backs together to plan coverage strategy against opposing offenses. "Teams do it different ways," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said at the time. "We thought having Matt Eberflus being the guy who oversees that back end, in regards to the passing game, we thought that would be a good way for our defense to go." The Cowboys maintained the position after Eberflus' departure, giving the title to defensive backs coach Kris Richard for the 2018 season.

5. Eberflus grew up in Toledo, attended Whitmer High and starred on the University of Toledo football team from 1988-91. He racked up 325 tackles, 89 coming as a junior and 138 during a senior season in which he served as a co-captain and was named the team's MVP. He was inducted into Toledo's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.

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