How Matt Eberflus Challenges Bears With Demanding Practices

How Eberflus challenges Bears with tough practices originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

If you haven’t heard by now, the “I” in Matt Eberflus’ H.I.T.S principle stands for “intensity,” both mentally and physically. Earlier this year, when Eberflus was outlining his program, he warned his Bears players that playing in under his H.I.T.S. philosophy would be the hardest thing they ever did in their football career. According to early accounts, Eberflus wasn’t joking around when he said that.

“I’m not kidding, that was probably the hardest practice I’ve ever been a part of,” said Cole Kmet after a particularly long padded practice ended on Friday. “That’s not a joke. It was a tough practice. It was a tough one… But it’s good for us to get in shape and see how good we can execute when we’re tired at the end of it.”

Saturday was no easier, with players being asked to go just as hard. Some veterans were given a day of respite, like Cody Whitehair and Riley Reiff. There were a few more water breaks, too, since it was a scorcher in Lake Forest. Other than that, the tempo was the same, as were the expectations to keep the intensity high throughout the day.

“The last two days really got everything out of me,” said Khalil Herbert. “You walk into the locker room, guys are laid out. I'm cold right now because I'm soaked in this shirt. The last two days have been tough but we needed them.”

While almost all the players who spoke on Friday and Saturday remarked on the demanding nature of their recent practices, Eberflus pushed back on that assessment in his opening statement, without being asked about it.

“Yesterday was a good day, a lot of situations, as you guys know (the players) talked about, they talked about the practice was long and all that,” Eberflus said. “I didn't see it that way. I thought it was a good practice, good solid practice and guys were pushing through.”

When asked if he was sending a message to his team by essentially saying, “Whatever, you thought that was tough. I thought that was just a good practice,” Eberflus had this to say:

“If you want to be a good football team, you have to have mental and physical stamina. And to build that callous, to build that stamina, you have to go through hard. You can't do it by going through soft. That's just what our practices do. So the tempo which we practice, how we execute with speed, and what we're asking in the standards that we're asking our players to do, that builds that mental and physical stamina.”

As Kmet and Herbert did, most players acknowledged that while the practices were grueling, they will benefit them in the long run.

“(Eberflus) wants to make it hard enough that when you get to the game it is not as hard, or maybe you’ve had that intensity before than you can adapt to it,” said Nick Morrow.

“Let’s do it. Let’s do it. I’m not afraid of it. Defensively, you have to win with effort. That’s been shown time and time again. Running to the football creates turnovers, punching the ball out, picking it up, recovering it. I think effort is definitely No. 1.”

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