It was just a week ago today that the Bears fired John Fox as their head coach and began the search for a new man. Usually in the NFL these things take a bit as many of the candidates are working for playoff teams and can’t be hired until their team is finished playing.
The Bears were one of six clubs looking for a new coach. Detroit, the New York Giants, Oakland, Indianapolis and Arizona were also in the market. While there is always a lot of names being tossed about as possible candidates, the reality is there were only about six or seven real candidates that were worthy of a head coaching job.
Those names included both of the coordinators of the New England Patriots (Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels). Both of the Minnesota Vikings coordinators (George Edwards and Pat Shurmur). Philadelphia quarterback coach John DeFilippo, Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. The Bears interviewed all but Wilks in the last week.
There were lots of rumors going around as to who may be the favorite or who may have had a great interview but most of that was hearsay. This year more than any other, the candidates had leverage because of the scarcity of candidates and the number of jobs open. I thought it may be a few weeks before we found out who was going where.
Then the Bears got hit with a bit of luck. No one thought that Kansas City would lose to Tennessee in the wild card game Saturday afternoon. Had Kansas City won, Matt Nagy could have been interviewed early this week but not hired.
At least two teams had Nagy on their list of candidates. They were the Bears and the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts looked as if they had the inside track on Nagy because their General Manager Chris Ballard had worked with Nagy in Kansas City for better than three years and had a strong relationship with him. Both the Colts and Bears set up interviews for Sunday.
I’ve been told that Nagy was so impressive that Pace never left Kansas City on Sunday night and he made sure he was going to get his guy before he left. If that happens to be fact than hats off to Pace as he was going to make sure he got his first choice. In this coaching cycle, the only coaches who could have been hired this week were Nagy and Carolina’s Steve Wilks, so it makes sense that Pace stuck around KC.
The exciting thing about Nagy is that he is a young energetic coach. He played quarterback at Delaware before a long career in the Arena Football League. Following his playing career he began coaching under Andy Reid in Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, Nagy was both an offensive assistant and a offensive quality control coach. When Reid moved to Kansas City in 2013, Nagy moved with him. He was the quarterback coach from 2013 through the 2015 seasons. In 2016 he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator and then this past season he was promoted to the sole offensive coordinator.
Under Andy Reid, the coordinator seldom gets an opportunity to call plays as Reid does the playcalling himself. That changed this season as Reid turned over the playcalling duties to Nagy for the final four games of the regular season. In those four games, the Chiefs offense averaged better than 400 yards per game in total offense and scored an average of 29 points per game while winning three of four games. Impressive numbers for a first time playcaller.
In Chicago, Nagy’s most important job will be to develop quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Looking at the Kansas City offense what should be exciting to Bears fans is the extensive use of RPOs (run-pass option plays). Kansas City incorporated RPOs because of quarterback Alex Smith’s outstanding athleticism. While Trubisky was at North Carolina that is the type of offense he was in. Nagy’s offense should fit well with Trubisky’s skill set.
The other important job that Nagy has is putting together a quality staff. In fact that may be more important than Trubisky’s development. The Bears will only be as good as the staff that Nagy is able to put together.
The one question that many Bears fans have is will current defensive coordinator Vic Fangio stay in Chicago. We should know the answer to that very shortly as Fangio becomes a free agent coach Tuesday.
For Fangio to stay, three things have to happen. First, Fangio was a candidate for the head coaching job and didn’t get it. Does he still want to be in Chicago after being passed by? Second, Nagy has to want Fangio to be his coordinator and third Fangio has to want to work for a new and young head coach. If the answer to any of these questions is no, than Fangio will not be a part of the Bears' staff in 2018.
Not only does Nagy have to find a top defensive coordinator, but it's imperative that he hire quality line coaches on both sides and a quality quarterback coach. Nagy will most likely be the offensive coordinator himself so whoever gets that position will actually be his assistant.
These are exciting times for Bears fans and the hope is that Matt Nagy is the coach that Ryan Pace thinks he is.