Colts’ Eberflus interviews for head coaching job in Cleveland

Matt Eberflus talks with linebacker Darius Leonard during an August practice.
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CLEVELAND — Matt Eberflus has a past with the Browns. Maybe he’ll have a future as well.

One day after his Indianapolis defense held quarterback Deshaun Watson and Houston’s offense to just seven points in an AFC wild-card win, Eberflus became the sixth candidate to interview for Cleveland’s open coaching job.

The Colts‘ dominant performance helped Eberflus boost a resume that already included a two-year stint (2009-10) coaching the Browns’ linebackers on Eric Mangini’s staff.

The 48-year-old Eberflus met Sunday with Cleveland general manager John Dorsey and other members of the Browns’ executive staff, which began its search by meeting with interim coach Gregg Williams on New Year’s Day.

Dorsey and his group have also interviewed New England linebackers coach Brian Flores, New Orleans assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell, Minnesota offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and former Detroit and Colts coach Jim Caldwell. Dorsey said last week that he intended to meet with Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who was credited with helping rookie Baker Mayfield‘s development.

The Browns have reportedly asked permission to interview Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, and Dorsey is expected to meet with former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy.

Cleveland has hired coaches who have worked with the team before. Mangini, Romeo Crennel and Rob Chudzinski were all assistants with the Browns before becoming head coaches.

Affectionately known as “Floos” by his players, Eberflus was one of the three assistants hired last year by Josh McDaniels, who agreed to become the Colts’ head coach before changing his mind and staying in New England. General manager Chris Ballard promised to keep the new coaches before hiring Frank Reich, who didn’t know Eberflus. But Reich was persuaded to keep him, and that decision couldn’t have gone better.

Eberflus has worked wonders for a defense that underperformed for years. The Colts steadily improved and finished the regular season ranked No. 11 overall in yards and No. 10 in points. Last season, they ranked 30th in both categories.

Eberflus also managed to generate a pass rush despite that being a major concern. Also, Indianapolis has forced turnovers in 16 of 17 games.

In Saturday’s win, the Colts sacked Watson three times, harassed him all game and got one interception.

Per league rules, the Browns had to wait until after the Colts played before they could interview Eberflus. If they want to hire him, they can’t finalize a contract with him until the Colts’ season ends. Indianapolis plays at Kansas City on Jan. 12.