The Chicago Bears aggressively got their man Monday, hiring Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to be the 16th head coach in franchise history. So far we don't know the years or the terms, but coaches aren't on a cap and GM Ryan Pace was extended through 2021, so expect it to be around a four-year deal.
Outside of the Raiders, who were enamored at the thought of throwing a bag at Jon Gruden, every team with a coaching vacancy were looking for this year's version of Sean McVay, the young offensive prodigy who turned the LA Rams offense into the best in the NFL in 2017. Pace identified that prodigy, just like he identified Mitchell Trubisky a year ago as his quarterback of the future.
Nagy (that's NAG-ee Bears fans) is now tasked with molding Trubisky into that guy. Nagy was an All-American at Delaware before ripping up Arena Football with the Georgia Force. He's a guy that has a chip on his shoulder; he feels like he was good enough to play D-I football and in the NFL. He's hungry to prove he belonged in the NFL from the beginning, and now he'll get the chance of a lifetime to do it in Chicago.
Nagy left a VERY kush real estate job and took a risk with his wife and family of four to work his way up from the bottom of Andy Reid's staff in Philadelphia. He started as an intern in 2008, and eventually worked his way to offensive quality control coach. He moved with Reid to Kansas City in 2013 to be the quarterbacks coach of the Chiefs, and was promoted to offensive coordinator before this season. He's the only coach Andy Reid has given playcalling duties to, and when the team sputtered after a hot start, Nagy was given more control of the offense, guiding them to a strong finish on the way to an AFC West title.
Nagy took an offense that struggled to do anything under Alex Smith despite four double-digit win seasons, and got a career year out of Smith, throwing for 4,000+ yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2017. Chiefs ranked 5th in NFL in total offense with 375.4 yards per game, 6th in points per game (25.9), 7th in passing yards (256.5), 9th in rushing (118.9) and led NFL with the fewest turnovers (8).
When the Chiefs were forced to start rookie Kareem Hunt week one in New England, Nagy brought the league's leading rusher out of him, 1327 rushing yards for the season. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce also had 1,000 yard receiving seasons under Nagy this year.
“I think he thinks a little different from coach (Reid) and kind of adds to that, where now you’re kind of getting some of the spice that’s not your typical West Coast offense,” Smith said, according to the Kansas City Star.
Nagy is also a pretty cool guy and relatable in the locker room. “Awesome — killer,” Smith said. “When he got to be up in the room in front of everybody as a coordinator, you never know how guys are going to handle that. I think the thing all of us appreciate is that he didn’t even blink."
Nagy's secondary job this season was grooming rookie QB Pat Mahomes, who is expected to push out Smith for the starting job last season. But leading up to last year's NFL Draft, he coveted Mitch Trubisky. Now he'll take his aggressive run-pass option offense to Chicago, where Trubisky is waiting to develop in his second year in the league.
Nagy becomes the latest under Andy Reid's tree to become head coach. There's currently six of Nagy's former assistants coaching in the league, including Panthers' Ron Rivera, the Bills' new HC Sean McDermott, and Eagles HC Doug Pedersen, who turned second-year QB Carson Wentz into an MVP candidate for the 13-3 Eagles before his December ACL injury.
Awaiting him at Halas Hall is a team with talent bursting at the seams, but unable to fully let loose on the NFL. Jordan Howard is a beast of a running back, and Tarik Cohen was the sparkplug in a dead offense this season. Adam Shaheen didn't perform much, but projects to be an under-the-radar tight end if Nagy can bring the Travis Kelce out of him. Receiver Cameron Meredith returns from ACL injury as well, along with a defense that has top 10 potential when 100% healthy.
The Bears could have waited it out for Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo, but you can't hire a coach until their team is out of the playoffs, and the Bears want to jump the gun to convince defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to stay before Tuesday's deadline.
This is Ryan Pace going for broke. He knows he has one shot left at hiring a head coach in Chicago, and if he's going to keep a job in this league, he can't hire another retread like John Fox, and he can't wait around and miss on his choices while other teams get out in front of them. He moved quickly for his coach, he has his young quarterback in tow, and now they have a day to keep their defense intact. Even the most skeptical Bears fan has to be excited about the stones of this hire.
As for Nagy, I think his gamble paid off.