Matt Nagy and Todd Bowles are the head coaches of the Chicago Bears and New York Jets, respectively. But if it wasn’t for Andy Reid, it’s possible the two would be working together this weekend, and not against each other (and for more either team!).
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports Bowles wanted to hire Nagy as the Jets’ offensive coordinator to replace Chan Gailey, who retired following the end of the 2016 regular season. Nagy was the Chiefs Quarterbacks Coach in 2016, but was elevated to Offensive Coordinator when Doug Pederson left Kansas City to become the Philadelphia Eagles head coach. So a move to the Jets would’ve been a lateral one, which assistants don’t tend to leave to take.
What could have been a coaching relationship that combined Bowles’ defensive prowess and Nagy’s offensive know-how was thwarted when the Jets were unable to interview him. Tough luck for the Jets, whose turnover on the offensive coaching staff is noteworthy (they’re on their third OC in as many years).
In addition to being one of those assistants-on-the-rise, Nagy and Bowles go back a bit. Nagy’s father was an assistant coach on Bowles’ high school football team, winning a state championship together in 1980. Later, the two coached together in Philadelphia when Bowles was the Eagles’ Secondary Coach/Interim Defensive Coordinator and Nagy was the team’s Offensive Quality Control Coach. It’s a small world and the fraternity of NFL coaches is a tight-knit group, so it’s neat to follow the history that shows the long-standing connection between Bowles and Nagy.
Perhaps then, there’s an alternate timeline out there in which Bowles and Nagy are coaching together in New York. Heck, there’s possibly even one where Bowles and Nagy would have been coaching together in Chicago. Back in 2015, Bears GM Ryan Pace interviewed Bowles for the team’s vacant head coaching position less than an hour after signing the paperwork and getting on the job. Bowles was a highly coveted candidate at the time, who was the defensive coordinator for some talented and successful Arizona Cardinals teams.
Considering Bowles’ interest in hiring Nagy as OC in 2017, you can’t help but wonder if he would have gone to that well had he been hired as the Bears’ head coach instead of John Fox in 2015. It’s fair to wonder if Nagy was as high-profile then as he was last season, but it’s not that much of a stretch. In any case, I tend to believe that what’s meant to be is meant to be, and this timeline is the one we got.