CHICAGO — Here is one thing we knew about Matt Nagy the second the Bears hired him to be the 16th head football coach in franchise history.
He has already earned a PhD in coaching football.
That’s what happens when you spend your entire career — 10 years of post graduate studies for Nagy — working for Andy Reid, who has the second-most wins of any coach active in the NFL today not named Belichick and a coaching tree that includes John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera, Todd Bowles, Sean McDermott, Doug Pederson, Pat Shurmur and Brad Childress, to name a few.
However, that and three bucks will get him a cup of coffee. Remember when that cliché used to be 25 cents?
But in the near term, Nagy is young by any coaching standards. He has just seven years of coaching experience – Nagy also spent a year as an intern and two years as a coach’s assistant under Reid – only two years as a coordinator and he will not turn 40 until late in April.
So although history suggests Nagy will eventually be successful, Bears Nation and GM Ryan Pace are badly in need of some immediate gratification, and unlike his boss’, the new kid in town’s honeymoon period will be short.
The Bears roster is close to being very competitive, and with another round of free agency and the draft may be closer than we think, leaving the ability of Nagy to compete immediately very much up to the quality of the coaching staff he is able to put together around him.
Asked at his welcome-to-Chicago press conference how he will put that group together, Nagy explained, “Ah, yeah that's important. You want to have diversity, you want to have experienced diversity as well. You have to have — what you don't want is a staff full of the same people.
“You want to have people that teach in different ways, that get across, there might be some yellers and screamers and there might be some guys that you know teach in a nicer way, I'll say it that way. It's just — it's more about understanding, why are they here?
“So having a staff full of quality people that have high character and yet are great coaches — you can find those — so let's fill a whole staff with that. They're out there and, listen, going back to this staff that's right here it's only fair to give them a chance to present who they are and then keep going from there.”
Which brings us to what may very well be the keys to the kingdom.
Multiple sources confirm that the Bears are doing all they can to retain Vic Fangio as their defensive coordinator, and by the time you read this those efforts may already have a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
As I wrote this, while everybody seemed to know what the Bears and Nagy want, nobody had a handle on what Fangio wanted.
I asked Pace what he got from Nagy in the interview process about his potential staff, and he said, “That’s one of the most important questions, especially when you’re talking to a younger coach: ‘What’s their staff going to look like?’
“What was good with all the candidates, and Matt, too, was the depth that he went through with each candidate. It wasn’t just on his staff. And it wasn’t just ‘these are the guys and these are the reasons why.’ It was ‘these are the guys and this is how they fit together to create a good chemistry among the staff and how they balance each other out.’”
Again, very promising.
But Nagy just hasn’t been at this long enough to have a long list of Fangios on speed dial.
Irrespective of what Fangio decides to do, the future appears very promising for the Bears.
But if Nagy reels in Fangio or a veteran defensive mind of his ilk, it will be a huge scalp to hang on his wall — and the present just might be very exciting too.