Matt Nagy is a breath of fresh air.
The new Chicago Bears head coach appeared on the MMQB podcast with Peter King today, and discussed a variety of topics – everything from Nagy’s climb through the coaching ranks, his thoughts about Mitch Trubisky, how to attack really good teams, and more.
You’re going to want to clear out some time and give it a full listen, but here are some highlights to get you rolling.
- Nagy seems to really like Mitch Trubisky, and not just because he inherited him as a quarterback. A year ago at this time, Nagy and the Chiefs “went through the process of breaking down the quarterback world” and came away with six that they really liked. One of whom was Trubisky, who Nagy called a “perfect” fit for what the Chiefs wanted to do offensively. A second was Patrick Mahomes, who the Chiefs drafted. And if you read between the lines of how Nagy talks about how he kept his eye on things outside of Kansas City, he seemed pretty fond of Deshaun Watson, too.
- Around this time last year, we were discussing Trubisky as a draft prospect based on his athleticism and arm talent. But Nagy and the Chiefs were able to take it to another level and it’s clear that the Bears’ new head coach liked what he saw from Trubisky when he was put in front of the whiteboard.
- “He’s a guy who, when we got him up on the board last year during this time, boy, he was powerful with how good he was on the board,” Nagy said. “He was football smart. And he understood defenses. He understood what his role was, understood footwork in the pocket, understood throwing lanes. And so I knew that going into this.”
- Nagy’s knowledge of Trubisky’s football IQ could turn out to be an advantage as the two try to get on the same page early in camp.
- If the comparisons between Trubisky and second-year quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz aren’t going to stop any tie soon, I have a feeling comparisons between Nagy and Doug Pederson will continue. But if the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, no one is going to complain. Nagy said he believes in what Pederson does as a coach and loves the Super Bowl-winning boss’ idea of introducing new plays and concepts during the week leading up to a game, because it keeps things fresh and keeps opposing defenses on their toes. From a schematic point of view, an offense throwing out a look a defense has never seen before gives the offense a sizable advantage. And that’s something Nagy hopes to do in Chicago.
- “It keeps it loose and keeps it fun for your players in practice and in the game. And it’s unconventional. We call them orange bags,” Nagy explained. “It’s easy if you’re just going to line up in a pro formation – two backs, one tight end, two wide receivers – and the defense knows this is like batting practice to them, they can do it in their sleep. Why not change it up a little bit, give them some unconventional looks, and do some things that are a little bit out of the box that makes the defense feel uncomfortable. To me, that’s advantage offense.”
- It’s one thing to have a tactical advantage over a defense. It’s another to get your players to buy in. The sharing of new concepts and plays in the practices leading up to the game gives players some extra juice and breaks up the monotony of practice week. It’s stuff like this why players who only know of Nagy from their friends are excited to be in his offense.
- “When you (introduce new plays and concepts), not only is that advantage offense, but you’re also spicing it up for the players. You can feel it in practice,” Nagy said. “These guys are out there dancing and having fun, and when you install this play on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and when you put the play up on the board and they’ve never seen it before the amount of attention that is redirected to that board because it’s such a new play and a different play. They look forward to going to practice and to practice that play.”
- There are going to be times when things don’t work. I’m prepared for it and I hope to prepare you for it too. The Bears will face adversity. Every team does. How the team bounces back and responds from it will determine how the season goes. Every punch should have a counter-punch. For Nagy, one thing he looks to combat is human nature and reverting to something safe because fortune favors the bold.
- “Whenever you get in trouble on offense, the human nature is because you’re doing too much, so you always pull back and you with the common theory of less is more,” Nagy said. “We all do it.” Even though it’s human nature, it certainly doesn’t sound like something Nagy wants to do.
- One interesting thing Nagy brought up was how he wanted the offense to be assertive, saying: “We want to be able to dictate to the defense as to how this is going to go.” It’s interesting because it’s the complete and total opposite of what former play-caller Dowell Loggains had in mind. Check out this quote from November: “This game is about matchups for us as well as them and that is the first thing we look at when we decide who is going to be in the game. Sometimes the defense dictates who is going to be out there.” If Nagy’s plan is executed well, the defense won’t be dictating much of anything the offense does.
- So what is that offense going to look like anyway?
- “Offensively, I keep going back to the words fun and creativity. That’s my personality, the people and the rest of our coaching staff that we put together are those types of personalities,” Nagy said. “You bring a guy like Mark Helfrich at Oregon and some of the ideas he’s going to have, it’s only going to make me better as a head coach and as a play-caller.”
- Nagy touched on the staff building aspect and really drew from a bunch of different areas. He seems genuinely interested in following in Andy Reid’s footsteps as a coach whose assistants are valued and working together rather than working in single groups. Nagy explained how he and other coaches would go into Reid’s office, draw up plays, and explain why things would work. The idea of working collectively seems crazy after the disjointed mess we’ve seen in recent years.
- “That’s one of the things I’m going to take as a head coach. Surround yourself with quality people who do things the right way and are able to use their ideas to strengthen the weaknesses you may have.”
- One coach who will have free reign will be defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, whose presence on defense drew a comparison to when Sean McVay handed over the Rams defense to Wade Phillips.
- “To have a guy like Coach Fangio on the other side of the ball with all that experience, I can just sit there and let him do what he wants to do, oversee it, give him advice in any way that I can help him, but understand the mentality he’s going to bring.”
- And to think, all this knowledge and passion could have been hanging around a high school football practice field. Nagy talked about how he always knew he wanted to be a coach and that the high school path was one he planned on taking before Andy Reid and Brett Veach (now the Chiefs GM) approached him and brought him on board with the Eagles.
- “I was OK coaching high school football for the rest of my life. But once presented with the opportunity from Coach Reid to get into the NFL … I was good with that.”