The Indianapolis Colts have hired three new assistant coaches.
The Colts signed Matt Eberflus as defensive coordinator, Nick Sirianni as offensive coordinator, Bubba Ventrone as special teams coordinator and Rusty Jones as director of sports performance.
Matt Eberflus: Eberflus has 21 years of coaching experience, including the last nine seasons in the NFL. He spent the last seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys serving as the team’s passing game coordinator/linebackers coach (2016-17) and linebackers coach (2011-15). His role as the passing game coordinator gave him more influence in the coverages amongst the linebackers and the secondary.
The Cowboys boasted one of the league’s best rushing defenses in each of the last two seasons, including No. 1 overall in 2016. In 2017, he guided a linebacker group that accounted for 34 percent of the tackles for the league’s No. 8 ranked defense (318.1 yards per game) and rushing defense (104.0 yards per game). Eberflus’ trio of Sean Lee (101 tackles), Anthony Hitchens (84 tackles) and Jaylon Smith (81 tackles) finished as the Cowboys’ top-three tacklers. Lee eclipsed the 100-tackle mark for the fifth time in his career. Some of Eberflus’ most impressive efforts came with the development of Smith, who missed his entire rookie season in 2016 due to an injury he suffered in his final collegiate game at Notre Dame. In his first year, Smith saw action in all 16 games (six starts) and tallied 81 tackles (50 solo), 3.0 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Dallas also concluded the 2017 season ranked 11th in the NFL in passing defense (214.1 yards per game).
The Cowboys boasted the league’s No. 1 overall ranked rushing defense (83.5 yards per game) in 2016 and gave up the fifth-fewest points. Lee led the defense with 174 tackles (120 solo) and 12.0 tackles for loss, both career highs. He was named First Team All-Pro and was selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl.
In 2015, Eberflus and his unit saw the return of Lee who missed the entire 2014 season due to injury. Lee shifted to the weakside linebacker position and saw immediate results, totaling 156 tackles (109 solo), 11.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and one interception en route to his first career Pro Bowl selection. In 2014, Eberflus was credited with molding then rookie Hitchens into a pro, as he started 11-of-16 games and saw action at every linebacker position. Hitchens recorded 100 tackles (74 solo) which ranked third on the team. The total ranked fifth most by a rookie in team history and he became the first rookie defender to record 100 tackles in a season since Roy Williams (127 in 2002). The Cowboys improved their rushing defense from No. 27 in 2013 to No. 8 in 2014 and tied for the seventh-most interceptions in the league.
In 2013, Eberflus assisted with the team’s transition to a 4-3 scheme. Lee finished with 123 tackles (95 solo) and a team-high four interceptions despite missing five games due to injury. Eberflus guided DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer to Pro Bowl selections in 2012.
In Eberflus’ first season in Dallas, he inherited a group that was spearheaded by All-Pro Ware, who registered 19.5 sacks, good for second in the NFL and tops amongst all linebackers in the league, en route to his sixth consecutive selection as a Pro Bowl starter.
Prior to Dallas, Eberflus spent two seasons (2009-2010) as the linebackers coach for the Cleveland Browns.
Preceding his NFL coaching career, Eberflus spent eight seasons (2001-08) at the University of Missouri and nine years (1992-2000) at his alma mater, the University of Toledo.
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. Eberflus 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. He earned his degree in education from Toledo in 1993 and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004.
Nick Sirianni: Sirianni has 14 years of coaching experience, including the last nine seasons in the NFL. He spent the past five seasons with the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers as wide receivers coach (2016-17), quarterbacks coach (2014-15) and quality control-offense (2013).
In 2017, Sirianni assisted with the league’s No. 1 passing attack and the No. 4 overall offensive unit. He guided wide receiver Keenan Allen to a career year. Allen tallied career highs with 102 receptions for 1,393 yards and added six touchdowns. He set a franchise single-season record for receptions and his receiving yardage output ranked second in team history. Allen ranked fourth in the NFL in receptions and third in receiving yards. He finished 10th in the NFL with 1,402 yards from scrimmage.
Under Sirianni’s direction, Tyrell Williams enjoyed a breakout season for the Chargers in 2016. In just his second NFL season, Williams led the team with 69 receptions for 1,059 yards while adding seven touchdowns. He became just the 15th player in franchise history to top 1,000 yards.
After originally joining the Chargers in 2013 as a quality control coach on offense, Sirianni served as quarterbacks coach for San Diego from 2014-15. Quarterback Philip Rivers was selected to Pro Bowls in his two seasons with Sirianni as his position coach. In 2015, Rivers set new franchise marks for attempts (661) and completions (437), while passing for 4,792 yards, 10 shy of the franchise record. Rivers set a team-record with five-straight 300-yard games, including the first 500-yard game in team history, and he threw 29 touchdown passes.
Sirianni’s NFL coaching career started with the Kansas City Chiefs where he served as wide receivers coach (2012) and offensive quality control coach (2009-2011).
Prior to the NFL, Sirianni coached five years (2004-08) at the collegiate level. He served as wide receivers coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from 2006-08. Sirianni began his coaching career at his alma mater, the University of Mount Union, where he served as defensive backs coach from 2004-05. He helped the Purple Raiders to a national title in 2005.
A native of Jamestown, N.Y., Sirianni won three NCAA Division III National Championships (2000-02) as a wide receiver at Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio. A three-year starter, he earned All-Ohio Athletic Conference honors as a senior after a career-high 13 touchdown catches. Sirianni spent one season (2005) playing in the Atlantic Indoor Football League with the Canton Legends before transitioning into coaching.
Sirianni’s brother, Mike, is the head coach at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa. A seven-time Presidents’ Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, Sirianni owns a .818 winning percentage (139-31), which is the highest in school history. In 2017, the Presidents won 11 games and their 25th PAC title and hosted two NCAA Division III playoff games for the first time since 2004. His brother, Jay, is a former head coach at their alma mater, Southwestern Central High School in Jamestown where their father, Fran, also spent nine years as the varsity head coach. Under Jay, Southwestern Central won New York state championships in 2008 and 2009. He stepped down from coaching at Southwestern Central in 2015.
Bubba Ventrone: Ventrone has 13 years of NFL experience as a player (2005-2014) and coach (2015-17). He served as assistant special teams coach with the New England Patriots the last three seasons and won Super Bowl LI with the Patriots following the 2016 season.
In 2017, Ventrone helped special teams ace Matthew Slater get selected to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl (2011-17). Kicker Stephen Gostkowski converted 37-of-40 field goals and 45-of-47 PATs for 156 points. He finished the season ranked in the top five in the NFL in total points (second), field goals made (fourth) and field goal percentage (fifth). Gostkowski was one of only four kickers in the league to be perfect on field goal attempts from 50+ yards (4-of-4).
The Patriots boasted some of the best coverage units in the league in 2017. New England ranked third in the NFL in kickoff return average allowed (18.9) and fourth in punt return average allowed (4.6).
Under Ventrone’s assistance in 2016, Slater was selected to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl and earned First Team Associated Press All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. Defensive back Nate Ebner tied for the NFL-lead in special teams tackles (19) and forced one fumble.
In 2015, Gostkowski led the league in scoring (151 points) for the fourth straight season, was elected to the Pro Bowl and named First Team Associated Press All-Pro. Gostkowski ranked in the top five in the league in field goals made (33, tied-second), field goal percentage (91.7, tied-fifth) and PAT percentage (100.0, tied-first). Additionally, punter Ryan Allen set a single-season career-high with 31 punts inside the 20-yard line which ranked tied for sixth in the NFL. Slater was selected to his fifth straight Pro Bowl as a special teamer and wide receiver Danny Amendola led the NFL with 12.0 yards per punt return.
Prior to coaching, Ventrone spent 10 years in the NFL as a player with the San Francisco 49ers (2013-14), Cleveland Browns (2009-2012), New England Patriots (2005-08) and New York Jets (2007). He played in 97 career games and tallied 13 tackles (12 solo), one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Ventrone was a standout on special teams, where he compiled 57 special teams stops. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate in 2011.
Collegiately, Ventrone played in 35 games at Villanova and totaled 251 tackles (189 solo), 19.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 11 passes defensed. He earned First Team All-Atlantic 10 recognition his junior year. Ventrone was a three-time Atlantic 10 All-Academic Team honoree (2002, 2003 and 2004).
A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Ventrone attended Chartiers Valley High School in Bridgeville, Pa., where he was a three-time all-conference performer and also set three high school records in track and field: long jump (22’6”), triple jump (45’6”) and 100M (10.8). Bubba’s younger brother, Ross, also played in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Patriots.
Rusty Jones: Jones has 28 years of NFL experience with the Chicago Bears (2005-2012) and Buffalo Bills (1985-2004). A pioneer in the strength and conditioning field, Jones was named the recipient of the 2016 NFL strength and conditioning Lifetime Achievement award.
Jones was named 2006 National Professional Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year by the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society in February of 2007. The award recognized his proficiency at enacting his renowned conditioning and nutrition program upon his arrival in Chicago.
As one of the most well-respected strength, conditioning and nutrition experts in the business, Jones’ philosophy focuses on designing specific nutritional and workout programs for each individual player on the roster to maximize their performance while maintaining year-round health. His approach takes nutrition and body composition down to the molecular level and is based on what players do at their position.
Since 2014, Jones has worked as a sports performance consultant for numerous professional and collegiate programs.
Before retiring from the NFL following the 2013 season, Jones served as the director of physical development (2008-2012) and strength and conditioning coordinator (2005-07) with the Bears. In his first season in Chicago in 2005, he helped Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher deal with hamstring problems and leg cramps that had caused him to miss seven games the prior year. Urlacher played in all 16 games in 2005 and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Prior to Chicago, Jones spent 20 years with the Buffalo Bills after being hired by the team in June of 1985. He spent 19 years as the Bills strength and conditioning coordinator before being promoted to director of physical development/assistant to the head coach prior to the 2004 season.
During his tenure in Buffalo, Jones worked under six head coaches including Hall of Famer Marv Levy and worked with over 25 different Pro Bowlers including Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, James Lofton and Bruce Smith. The Bills qualified for the playoffs in 10 of Jones’ 20 seasons with the team, including four consecutive Super Bowl appearances from 1990-93. He gained league-wide notoriety for getting Buffalo’s players in top physical condition while the Bills enjoyed success running the “no-huddle” offense in the early 1990’s.
Before joining the Bills, Jones spent two years (1983-84) as the conditioning supervisor for the DeBartolo Corporation, working in Pittsburgh with the Penguins, Spirit and Maulers.
Jones earned a physical education degree from Springfield (Mass.) College and taught for two years at Dover High School in New Hampshire. The native of Berwick, Maine and Noble High School returned to Springfield to earn a master’s degree in exercise physiology (1979-82), serving as a graduate assistant with the football program during that time.