Matt Eberflus joined the Dallas Cowboys on January 26, 2011 as the club’s linebackers coach. He added the title of passing game coordinator in 2016. Eberflus, who enters his eighth season coaching in the NFL, returns for his sixth season with Dallas after spending two seasons as the Cleveland Browns linebackers coach. He spent 17 years prior to that coaching in the collegiate ranks.
His linebackers made a strong impact during the 2015 season, led by the return of Sean Lee, who missed the entire 2014 season due to injury, as three players from his unit finished in the top-five in total tackles. Lee turned in arguably his best season while shifting to the weakside linebacker position, logging 156 tackles and 11 tackles for loss - both career-highs - his first career sacks (2.5) and added an interception as he was named to his first Pro Bowl. Pairing with Lee was Rolando McClain, who tallied 97 stops, two sacks and nine tackles for loss while taking over as the team’s starting middle linebacker. Second-year linebacker Anthony Hitchens followed up his stellar rookie campaign with 85 stops, two sacks and three tackles for loss in his second season while once again showing his worth in his versatility by seeing time at every position along the linebacker front.
Eberflus faced arguably his greatest challenge as a coach with Dallas in 2014, having to immediately replace the production of one of the club’s top tacklers and team leaders in Lee, who was lost for the entire year after suffering a torn ACL during the spring. To fill the role left by Lee, the club made a trade with Baltimore for the rights to McClain, who retired before the beginning of the 2013 season, but returned to NFL action in 2014 to pay immediate dividends for the Cowboys. McClain won the starting middle linebacker position out of training camp and went on to tally a career-best 108 stops - second on the squad - along with a team-leading nine tackles for loss and a career-high two interceptions, tying for third, while starting 12-of-13 games played. Veteran linebacker Justin Durant began the year as the starting weakside linebacker and posted 59 tackles, but an elbow injury prematurely ended his season after the eighth game of the year. Eberflus was also credited with molding rookie linebacker Hitchens into a pro, as the young linebacker stepped in to start 11-of-16 games while seeing action at every linebacker position at some point during the season filling in for other injured players. Hitchens logged 100 tackles in his first year - third on the team; fifth-highest by a rookie in team history - to become the first rookie defender to record 100 tackles in a season since Roy Williams (127 - 2002). Eberflus also received production from Bruce Carter, who led the team with a career-high five interceptions to tie for fourth in a single season by a linebacker in team history, while he also posted 75 tackles to place fifth on the team.
Eberflus worked with a young and talented group as the defense transitioned to a 4-3 scheme in 2013. At the heart of the linebacking corps was Lee, who registered 123 tackles and a team-high four interceptions despite missing five games due to injury. Carter also put together a strong season from the weakside linebacker position, posting 122 tackles and recording his first two career sacks to go along with four tackles for loss and three pass breakups. Reserve linebackers Ernie Sims, DeVonte Holloman and Kyle Wilber put up solid numbers filling in for Durant on the strong side after Durant was injured.
Under Eberflus’ guidance in 2012, the outside linebackers continued to excel, as both DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer earned Pro Bowl berths. The duo became the fifth in club history to each reach double-digit sacks, Ware with a team-best 11.5 and Spencer with a career-high 11.0. Spencer led the team with a career-best 106 tackles, while Ware finished with 72 tackles, a team-best 33 pressures and five forced fumbles. The inside linebackers were shuffled throughout the year with both Lee and Carter suffering season-ending injuries. Lee managed 77 tackles, good for fourth on the team, and prior to his injury, he posted a career-high 21 tackles that tied Lee Roy Jordan (9/26/71) for the most tackles in a game in franchise history. Carter finished with 80 tackles, third on the team, and led the squad with nine tackles for loss.
The 2011 season marked Eberflus’ first year overseeing the Cowboys linebackers, inheriting a unit led by All-Pro Ware, who once again terrorized NFL quarterbacks with 19.5 sacks - good for second in the NFC and the NFL and tops amongst all linebackers in the league - en route to his sixth consecutive selection as a Pro Bowl starter. Eberflus also helped oversee the emergence of second-year linebacker Lee, who led the team with a career-best 131 tackles and tied for the team-lead with four interceptions, which were the most by an NFL linebacker in 2011. The overall production of the linebacker unit was seen on the final stats sheet, with five of Dallas’ top-10 tacklers and three of the top-five -- coming from the position: Lee (first - 131), Spencer (fourth - 74), Keith Brooking (fifth - 72), Ware (sixth - 67) and Bradie James (ninth - 53).
In 2010 Eberflus led the charges of the Browns linebacking corps that had four of its starters (Eric Barton, 12 starts; Scott Fujita, nine starts; Chris Gocong, 16 starts; Matt Roth, 16 starts) finish in the top-10 in tackles. Additionally, linebacker David Bowens became the second player in Browns history to return two interceptions for touchdowns in a single game (at New Orleans, 10/24).
In his first season with the Browns, Eberflus guided a unit through a solid season despite the loss of both starting inside linebackers due to injury by the season’s midpoint. Under Eberflus’ guidance, linebacker Bowens made a successful transition from an outside spot to the inside, finishing with a career-best 71 tackles, with 5.5 sacks - the third-highest sack figure of his career. With the injuries to his inside starters, Eberflus worked third-year backer Jason Trusnik into a starting role. Trusnik, acquired five weeks into the season, went on to make the first 10 starts of his career and tallied 54 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
Prior to entering the pro ranks, Eberflus coached at the University of Missouri (2001-08). He came to Missouri as the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach in 2001 and became the associate head coach/defensive coordinator/safeties coach in 2006. While with Missouri, Eberflus guided the Tigers defense to the Big 12 North Division title in 2007 and 2008, compiling a 22-6 record over that span. Not being limited to his role with the defense, Eberflus helped recruit All-American quarterback Brad Smith and wide receiver Sean Coffey while also landing defensive back William Moore and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Before arriving in Missouri, Eberflus spent nine years (1992-2000) at his alma mater, the University of Toledo. He served as a student assistant coach in 1992, then as a graduate assistant in 1993 before landing a full-time spot in 1994 as recruiting coordinator/outside linebackers coach. He held that position for two seasons before concentrating solely on outside linebackers for two more seasons (1996-98). For his last two years at Toledo, Eberflus coached defensive backs. In his seven seasons as a full-timer, Toledo boasted a winning record each season, compiling a 56-22-2 record, including an 11-0-1 finish in 1995 and a 10-1 finish in 2000.
Eberflus was a four-year letterman and a three-year starting linebacker at Toledo. He earned first-team All-Conference honors as a junior and senior as he led the team in tackles both years. He also served as a team captain as a senior and took home the Nicholson Trophy for contributing the most towards the success of the team.
Eberflus earned his degree in education from Toledo in 1993 and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
Eberflus and his wife, Kelly, have two daughters, Grace and Giada.