On Monday things started to become more clear in terms of who will be the Indianapolis Colts head coach.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is slated to land the gig, and that’s newsworthy to Cowboys fans because he’s rumored to be bringing Matt Eberflus with him as his defensive coordinator. Too da loo, Flus.
Eberflus is coming off time served as the Cowboys linebackers coach and passing game coordinator, becoming one of the more valued defensive minds in the NFL. He deserves his chance to be a defensive coordinator, and Cowboys fans should be happy to see him have success as sad as they are to see him go.
Beyond the Cowboys missing Eberflus’ services in terms of their own team, his heading to Indianapolis will bring with it new challenges for Dallas.
The Cowboys visit the Indianapolis Colts in 2018. It will mark their first visit since 2010 when, coincidentally, a rookie linebacker named Sean Lee scored his first touchdown in the NFL on a 31-yard interception return off of Peyton Manning. Talk about a start.
An impending reunion could be far from the biggest threat Eberflus poses to the 2018 Cowboys, though. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens is arguably the team’s most valuable free agent (DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving aren’t going anywhere, so moving past them).
We’ve spent a great amount of time talking about how admirably Hitchens played last season for the Cowboys. It’s an even greater feat when you consider that it all looked lost for him in the season’s dress rehearsal during the preseason against the Raiders.
Impending free agent Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens took to Instagram to reflect on his season and had a line at the end that could be a preview of free agency: “Hopefully I continue my career here..” pic.twitter.com/szYCFlPhAe— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) January 3, 2018
While Hitchens did say he hoped to finish his career in Dallas during an Instagram post earlier this month, the reality of the business of the NFL could change that hope come March.
Among the teams with needs at the linebacker position (honestly who wouldn’t want another good linebacker?) are the Indianapolis Colts. These are the same Colts who are expected to be bringing in McDaniels and Eberflus. This is the same Eberflus that has been Hitchens’ position coach for his entire career.
The trouble with the Cowboys keeping Anthony Hitchens is that there really isn’t technically room for him as a starter in Dallas. Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith are going to command a majority of time as far as linebackers are concerned, Hitchens would be signing up for more of the same, which isn’t too glamorous.
Of course, Hitchens could be promised more playing time, or maybe he could believe/know that he’ll inevitably get it if Sean Lee gets hurt again or if Jaylon Smith isn’t carrying his weight. But would you take that risk if an opportunity to go start somewhere else with the coach who made you what you are was there?
Just as it makes sense for Matt Eberflus to take a promotion in Indianapolis, it makes sense for Hitchens to do the same. Opportunity, and likely cash, is of greater value there than it is in Dallas, the Eberflus factor is just icing on the cake.
Late Monday night the Eberflus-to-Indianapolis news was all but confirmed, shockingly thanks to Facebook. Talk about a 2018 thing.
Your move, Anthony Hitchens.