The state of Illinois rejoiced Monday when the Bears hired someone who is not John Fox to lead their football team. Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, who, along with Andy Reid, architected an offense that was far and away the league’s most innovative in 2017, will now helm the Bears’ rebuilding effort.
Nagy replaces Fox, who left the Bears after three seasons with a 14–34 record, the worst challenge of all time, and a rotten stink in the building. With Nagy, Chicago will get a fresh start from a fresh face (and hopefully some Febreze for their offense). Whereas Fox had been a head coach for 12 years before being hired in Chicago at age 59, Nagy, 39, has spent his entire coaching career under Reid. He rose from a position as Philadelphia coaching intern in 2008 to become offensive quality control coach by 2011, and then followed Reid to the Chiefs in 2013 to become their quarterbacks coach. This year Nagy was promoted to offensive coordinator, and, in early December, he took over play-calling duties from Reid and promptly rejuvenated the Chiefs’ slumping offense.
The Bears offense won’t need to be rejuvenated as much as dredged and sanitized like movie characters that were exposed to an alien virus. Chicago finished 30th in yards per game (287), dead last in passing yards per game (176), and tied for last in passing touchdowns (13) as Fox tried to stuff the Bears offense into a time machine and set the sport back 50 years. Now Nagy has to clean up the mess, and his primary responsibility on offense will be developing quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who the Bears traded up to draft with the second overall pick last year. Under Nagy and Reid, the Chiefs finished fifth in yards (375.4 per game) and second in yards per play (6.1) after establishing one of the most dynamic attacks in the league that focused on bringing college concepts to the NFL. That’s welcome news for Trubisky, whose mobility and sharp accuracy on rollouts should give him the skills to thrive in that kind of offense.
It will be intriguing to see how many West Coast–spread hybrid concepts Nagy brings from his time under Reid, and while he won’t have the luxury of game-breaking pass catchers like Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill, Bears running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen provide excellent running and catching options out of the backfield. Take this speed option the Chiefs ran against Miami in Week 16.
Andy Reid and the #Chiefs bring the college game to the NFL better than anyone else! Always creative.— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) December 27, 2017
Here we have Speed Option off Jet action, with both Defensive Ends unblocked.
Alex Smith pitches to @Kareemhunt7 for a 24 yd gain.@ArrowheadPride #chiefskingdom pic.twitter.com/4Jq5JK8Vfk
It’s not hard to imagine the Bears running that play with Trubisky and either Howard or Cohen.
With Nagy on board, the immediate concern will be the Bears defense. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is considered a valuable asset to the team and was also interviewed for the head-coaching role. The front office wants to retain him as coordinator, though his contract expires Tuesday and he could leave for a head-coaching gig elsewhere.
Even if Fangio departs, an open-minded and creative offensive mind taking over a team with a young quarterback and an offense that needs to be overhauled is a promising start, especially considering his predecessor might have been the most stubborn and uncreative coach in the league. Nagy has a lot of work to do, but just the fact that he isn’t Fox will have Bears fans thrilled.