LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Matt Nagy is the latest branch off the sprawling Andy Reid coaching tree covering nearly one-quarter of the NFL.
Those roots, Ryan Pace admitted, played a role in the general manager’s decision to hire Nagy, who was introduced Tuesday as the 16th head coach in Bears history.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Reid," Pace said. “With him being a longtime leader in our league and a successful coach. Coach Reid believes in Matt Nagy, and so do I.”
The entirety of Nagy’s decade of NFL coaching experience comes under Reid, who hired him in 2008 as a coaching intern with the Philadelphia Eagles and took him along to Kansas City in 2013, where he rose from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.
Reid, then, has clearly had a profound influence on Nagy, and it was apparent within minutes of Nagy’s first-ever press conference at Halas Hall.
“Go out there, be honest, be yourself and let your personality show,” recalled Nagy of the best advice he received from Reid, whose 183 regular-season wins over 19 seasons trails only Bill Belichick.
Nagy clearly took Reid’s words to heart.
Over the nearly 40 minutes spent with the media, Nagy provided a small glimpse into his personal life, choking up when thanking his four young boys and wife, seated in the front row.
“This is why I am here. This right here is why we do it. I love you.”
Nagy was brutally honest in describing his personal “failure” as the play caller during the Chiefs’ 21-3 second half playoff collapse to the Titans last Saturday, when NFL rushing leader Kareem Hunt received just five carries as the offense was shutout after intermission and gained just three first downs.
And Nagy described in some detail Reid’s trick in working with quarterbacks, which, of course, is the No. 1 reason Nagy is here – to develop last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Mitch Trubisky, into a franchise player.
“They all had a coach that believed in them,” Nagy explained of the common denominator between Reid’s past QB success stories, including Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and most recently Alex Smith, who, alongside Nagy just authored his finest season in Year 13.
“… He has a method to his madness of just showing those guys that he believes in them. And then what happens is, is they understand ... and they work on their weaknesses and they try to get better, they ask questions, they all have different ways of learning.
“Words don’t do it justice,” Nagy uttered on more than one occasion in explaining Reid’s effect on him, in addition to his teaching of young passers. Instead, Nagy shared an anecdote regarding the attention to detail he learned under Reid.
Nagy brought with him to his four-and-a-half hour interview with Pace on Sunday the notes he jotted down on Trubisky during his pre-2017 draft evaluation and during the exhaustive visit Trubisky made to Nagy and the Chiefs last spring.
“It was kind of neat,” recalled Pace.
Nagy also described the two-way street that connects Reid and his quarterbacks, one he intends to venture down with Trubisky, that requires adaptability and a willingness to listen.
But how does the seventh man to graduate from Reid assistant to head coach feel when he hears that Reid said Nagy is the best head candidate yet from a list that includes a Super Bowl winner (John Harbaugh), two-time Coach of the Year (Ron Rivera) and the latest, Doug Pederson, vying for the same award in just his second season?
“How difficult do you think it is?” Nagy quipped. “Hahhaha. … But hey, that’s a challenge, though, right? That’s a challenge. He gave me an opportunity in this league. In 2010, he gave me an opportunity and I told him I’m not going to let him down. And when I hugged him yesterday, I told him I loved him. I said, ‘I’m not going to let you down.’ And I’m going to stick to that.”