Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Jan 2018

Chicago Hires Matt Nagy as Head Coach

For only the second time since the merger, the Chicago Bears have decided to pick an offensive coordinator for their head coach. On Monday morning, they announced that Matt Nagy, the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, will become the 16th head coach in franchise history. He'll be tasked with turning Mitchell Trubisky into the best Bears quarterback since [Scene Missing].

At age 39, Nagy is the latest in the recent trend of hiring young offensive minds to turn programs around, joining Adam Gase, Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay in the under-40 squad.

Nagy is a long-time Andy Reid guy, starting his coaching career in 2008 in Philadelphia and gradually working his way up the ranks. He made the jump with Reid to Kansas City as quarterbacks coach, and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2016 when Doug Pederson left to become coach of the Eagles.

While Reid traditionally calls his own plays, he transferred that power to Nagy in December when the Chiefs were in the middle of the skid. With Nagy calling the shots, the Chiefs finished the year 4-0 before losing in the playoffs to Tennessee, scoring 26.6 points per game, while the Chiefs as a whole scored 25.9 ppg on the season. The Bears haven't been that productive on offense since 2013, when they were lead by the only other offensive coordinator they've ever brought on to be head coach, Marc Trestman.

The next move for the Bears would seem to be re-upping defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who remains under contract until Tuesday. Fangio is eternally the bridesmaid and never the bride; one of the more respected defensive coordinators in the league, it's the second time in five years where a franchise has hoped to keep him on as DC despite passing him up for the head coaching role. It didn't happen in San Francisco, but they were in the process of falling apart. Chicago may have better luck.

Charles McDonald took a look at Kansas City's offense back in September, an article which suddenly becomes much more interesting to Bears fans.

Posted by: Bryan Knowles on 08 Jan 2018

32 comments, Last at 12 Jan 2018, 11:37pm by TomC


by mjb :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 2:13pm

Congrats to the former starting QB at the University of Delaware. #DelawareProud Also, showing my age since I remember watching him at U of D.

But, I am wondering how this move will affect the Bears RBs? Will Cohen be used more like Tyreek Hill now? Speedy guy that can line up wide and take jet-sweeps, or run pass routes?

by Guest789 :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 2:25pm

Oh so Nagy gets an XP but Gutekunst doesn't? FO's well known Bears bias at it again /s

I would love it if McCarthy can pry Fangio away from Chicago though.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 2:28pm

Anyone have any insight into whether a coach, like Nagy, who spends his career in one system makes a better HC than someone who moved around to see a variety of systems (e.g. Pete Carroll)? Like the Hedgehog and the Fox there are arguments in both directions. Or is it because he was so good Reid would not let him go?

by rpwong :: Wed, 01/10/2018 - 3:16pm

That's a great nature-vs-nurture question. I think it mostly comes down to whether the coach likes to incorporate other concepts and fresh ideas that complement the personnel (e.g. Belichick, Reid), or believes that his way is the best and the players should adapt (e.g. Mike Martz).

A coach can likely come from any background/experience and succeed, so long as they're willing to create unpredictable schemes that maximize the available talent. More importantly, I think a really special coach shows their stuff when they're forced to make in-game adjustments. Unfortunately for KC, Nagy/Reid didn't do that after Kelce left the game on Saturday.

I hadn't heard of Nagy before last year, but I'm not convinced that the hot trend of young head coaches with minimal coordinating experience will be a good thing. I don't think a coach has to be in his 50's, but I'd want a coordinator to have sustained success over 2-3 seasons before becoming a head coach.

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 01/11/2018 - 11:25pm

I know John Fox obviously, but what coach's nickname is the Hedgehog? I think I would have heard of something that awesome

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 2:37pm

I'm cautiously optimistic about him, but it is so Bears that they hired him two days after his offense melted down in the second half of a home playoff game. (Don't get me wrong - I don't think any coach should be judged by one game, and I have read that Reid may have been calling plays in the second half on Saturday so it's quite possible that Nagy simply got overruled. Heck, maybe he'll learn from that game and successfully protect a playoff lead in the future. I just think the optics of it are hilarious).

As far as Fangio, I would love to see him stay on as DC but I didn't want the Bears to promote him so I'm glad they didn't, even if it means they lose him. From what I'm hearing in Chicago it sounds like he might want to leave, but who knows. It might depend on the contract offered. I have no idea what Nagy has in mind either and I hope to God the Bears didn't do something stupid like pick their head coach based on his willingness to keep Fangio.

by Levente from Hungary :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 2:40pm

Another Hungarian head coach in the NFL! :-) :-) :-)
I have no idea if he keeps track of Hungarian ancestry, anyway Nagy means big or great in Hungarian and is a fairly common family name here.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 3:58pm

I'm glad I don't do podcasts very often. I cannot, no matter how I try, bring myself to pronounce his name the 'American' way. I'll get there eventually. It took me a good few years to hurdle that gap with Calais Campbell.

by Levente from Hungary :: Tue, 01/09/2018 - 2:52am

Thanks, Andrew. I knew you would show up here :-) Yes, is weird to hear. On the other hand if he pronounces that way too, then who are we to criticise him?

by dryheat :: Wed, 01/10/2018 - 1:22pm

Us Hockey fans know...although I believe Ladislav was actually a Slovak.

by Andrew Potter :: Fri, 01/12/2018 - 4:07pm

He was, and indeed still is. Ladislav Nagy: the Great (Nagy) and the Glorious (Ladislav).

by D :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 9:10pm

Hungarian sports fan, huh? What do you think is going to happen with Katinka and Shane? Is the Iron Lady back in Budapest?

by Levente from Hungary :: Tue, 01/09/2018 - 2:59am

I wasn't aware that she is news in the US.
I am a sports fan, but not interested in family life gossip to tell the truth so don't know what is really behind it. He does come across to me as a bully and maybe she snapped.
She is back in Budapest, latest news was that they left the pool together yesterday, although went home to a separate place. He is practically nothing without her while it is possible for her to find another coach...
Worst case scenario she have an off-year I guess, she is not very young any more and worked a lot the past several years. Plus no big event this year.

by D :: Tue, 01/09/2018 - 12:49pm

Like basically every swimmer not named Phelps, Lochte or Ledecky she isn't that popular in the US, but I am a swimming fan. I don't really follow gossip stuff all that often, but I am curious how well the brand they have built will endure if their marriage ends. The business empire they have assembled is really innovative and an inspiration for other Olympic athletes.

by Levente from Hungary :: Tue, 01/09/2018 - 1:48pm

The brand should survive as (in the eye of the fans) it is linked to her. At the same time it is clear that he is the motor behind the brand. And I think if they break up, most people will turn against him as the narrative is that he is a bully and she had to suffer him.

by siggyllama :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 3:05pm

"For only the second time since the merger, the Chicago Bears have decided to pick an offensive mind for their head coach"

Make that third. As hard as it is to believe, Mike Ditka was an offense-oriented coach.

by Bryan Knowles :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 3:25pm

Ah, a fault of me being unclear. It's the second offensive coordinator they've hired to be a coach. I've edited the article to make that more clear -- you're absolutely right.

by Chip :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 10:09pm

Ditka was a special teams coach.

by andrew :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 3:18pm

The NFL really needs to stop hirings until after the superbowl.

If you're a coordinator and you coordinate well enough to advance, you have to continue coordinating while job openings are getting filled. Patrcia and McDaniels and Shurmur and others still coaching now know if they make it to the superbowl then they won't be able to accept any jobs for another three weeks. In theory teams would wait until all their candidates are available, but year after year they pounce as soon as someone is out...

Even if they weren't candidates for this opening, they lose leverage by having less openings at the time they are finally available. Bad enough that they have the distractions of needing to conduct interviews during their prep weeks.

by Levente from Hungary :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 3:28pm

Isn't it the other way around? I guess they hired Nagy because they wanted him. Do you think if someone wants Patricia, he still takes the defensive coordinator of the Bills just because he is available 3 weeks earlier?

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 7:01pm

I think if two candidates are viewed as almost perfectly equal, the fact that one is available a few weeks sooner might tip the scales. But I think a GM would be an idiot to hire someone other than his preferred coach just because one was available sooner.

I'm not sure exactly what the rules are regarding how far teams can go with candidates while they're still in the playoffs, but wasn't Kyle Shanahan all but signed by the 49ers before the Super Bowl last year?

by Bryan Knowles :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 7:35pm

It was widely assumed by everyone involved that Shanahan would be the coach of the 49ers for weeks before the Super Bowl, yes, to the point where John Lynch was talking to him after the divisional round game and saying 'hey, I know you have a lot of opportunities; take me with you'.

His official interview didn't happen until the Friday after the conference championships, but there was clear mutual interest on both sides before the interview occurred.

The NFL prohibits interviews and the like until a team is eliminated or they have a bye week, so teams can't do anything official with candidates. But they can sure slip each other notes under the door with a "Will u coach for me (check one)" message on it.

by Noah Arkadia :: Wed, 01/10/2018 - 11:01am

Yeah, but it's hard to commit to a guy without an interview.

by andrew :: Tue, 01/09/2018 - 8:33am

In 1998, Brian Billick was the offensive coordinator of the Vikings, who were the #1 seed in the NFC, and he very much wanted a head coaching job.

There were nine openings that year: Carolina (Capers fired), Chicago (Wannstadt fired), Green Bay (Holmgren left to Seattle), Philadelphia (Rhodes fired), Baltimore (Marchibroda fired), Kansas City (Schottenheimer resigned), San Diego (June Jones left for Hawaii) and Seattle (Dennis Erickson fired). Plus the new Browns.

The Vikings had a bye, played their first game vs the Cardinals on January 10, winning easily 41-21.

By this time the Panthers had hired Siefert, the Chargers hired Mike Riley and the Seahawks had hired Holmgren.

In the week leading up to the NFCCG (Jan 17) Billick lamented in an interview that the jobs were being filled before he had a chance, I don't recall if back then they were able to interview during bye weeks. He further lamented that if they advanced he would be out of the picture until January 31.

During this week the Packers hired Ray Rhodes and the Eagles hired Andy Reid.

On January 17, the Vikings were upset in overtime by the Falcons after Gary Anderson missed his only kick that year.

Two days later, Billick was hired as the coach of the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns (Palmer), Chiefs (Cunnignham) and Bears (Jauron) all filled their facancies in the next 5 days, all long before the Superbowl. No one from the Broncos or Falcons was hired as a head coach.

The more conspiracy-addled Vikings fans actually accused Billick of sabotaging the Vikings chances in the second half and overtime to make sure he could accept one of those gigs, never mind the fact that such a theory would have to include somehow causing a miss Gary Anderson--who had a perfect season to that point--to miss a mid-range field goal that would have clinched it.

If I remember right, Billick was basically offered the Browns job but wanted to also interview with the Ravens to gauge whether it was a better situation, and the Browns retracted their offer when he did not accept immediately.

FWIW of those 9 coaches, Billick is the only one that won a superbowl with that job. Two others, Reid and Holmgren, would reach one.

by amin purshottam :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 11:36pm

After the lousy play calling in the second half by him, I don’t know if this is a good idea.

by jtr :: Tue, 01/09/2018 - 9:08am

As I mentioned in the Audibles thread, the KC offense completely collapsed every time it faced a little bit of adversity this season. The terrible second half of this game coincided with Kelce's injury. Their big midseason slump coincided with Hill losing a bit of his speed from a hamstring injury. The offense that Nagy and Reid designed this year relied so strongly on those two players, and the threats they offer as decoys, that it fell apart completely as soon as they weren't both at 100%. I would be very worried if I were a Bears fan that the team doesn't even have one player on that level, and without two all-pro playmakers Nagy might not be able to make this offense work at all.

by BroncosGuyAgain :: Wed, 01/10/2018 - 9:46pm

If I were a Bears fan, I would be concerned about the lack of Kelce/Hill type talent no matter who is coaching. I am at least as disappointed in Ryan Pace (and his staff) as I am in John Fox. I have no idea if Nagy will be a good coach, but if the roster doesn't improve, it won't matter.

Even if the team had hired a cardboard cutout of Rich Kotite, Bears fans could still cross themselves and say "thank goodness it is not Josh McDaniels".

by The Ninjalectual :: Thu, 01/11/2018 - 11:33pm

Is there something inherent in Andy Reid's system, coaching style, personality, etc. that prepares his assistants for HC jobs especially well?

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 01/12/2018 - 4:26pm

The Bears just re-signed Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator. I have to think that's a great move...it's logical that Nagy would be happy with a veteran DC that he can turn the defense over to and not worry too much about, and Fangio has done some really nice things with the Bears defense. From 31st in DVOA in 2015 to 23rd in 2016 to 14th in 2017. First time since 2012 they've had a negative defensive DVOA.

by Chip :: Fri, 01/12/2018 - 6:42pm

Even more amazing when you consider the talent that he has.

Fangio has only one blue chipper in Akeem Hicks.

Fangio had 5 week one starters end up on IR in 2017 (J.Freeman, W. Young, L. Floyd, M. Unrein, Q. Demps). Not to mention that N. Kwiatkowski and P. McPhee missed 4-5 games each, while Houston started on IR, then was cut with an IR settlement, went to another team and then boomeranged back and played Ironman football (almost 100% of snaps) the last few weeks of the season as a starter.

Similar story in 2016 with the Bears in the top 3 of missed games.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 01/12/2018 - 7:07pm

Yup, great point. Kyle Fuller and Adrian Amos also had greatly improved seasons in 2017.

If the Bears can fix the injury bug that's bitten them and add a couple players, there's no reason Fangio can't lead them to being a top 10 defense in 2018. And if Nagy can get the offense to be even competent, they should be competitive right away.

by TomC :: Fri, 01/12/2018 - 11:37pm

I was not sure how I felt about Nagy, but seeing the staff come together the way it has makes me optimistic. It seems like there were at least three guys Nagy had in mind when he took the job (Helfrich, Hiestand, and Fangio), there was competition for all of them, and he landed them all, fast. And I like all three of them, too---Hiestand did a lot with not much talent in his first stint with the Bears, the combination of Helfrich and Nagy should drag the Bears into the 21st century offensively, and they get continuity on D with Fangio.