The one thing you learn when a head coach gets hired in the NFL is that everybody loves him. He has no known natural enemies, never has had a cavity and, if a papal election were opened to married people, certainly would get some first-place votes.
We in the media, seeking to flesh out the man, interview his third-grade teacher, who reports that our guy took the Cub Scout oath more seriously than the other children. High school friends find deep meaning in the way he ate lunch in the cafeteria (‘‘organized and slavishly on schedule’’), and his first employer never before had seen anyone sort, collate and file the various rules concerning the break-room refrigerator.
Then it’s time for the news conference introducing the new coach, and whatever good things the media were able to dig up are eclipsed in short order by the glowing praise of the people who hired him.
This is how it has been since Monday, when the Bears picked Matt Nagy to be their head coach. Judging by what Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace had to say about each other at the introductory news conference Tuesday, this could be the bro-est of all bromances.
‘‘I’m going to be right there by his hip,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘I’ve got his back. I’m going to support him in every way possible. It was mutual and reciprocated.’’
‘‘He’s a natural leader, highly intelligent, he’s got outstanding character . . . a great person,’’ Pace said.
OK, deep breath. What do we have here in Matt Nagy?
We appear to have an engaging human being, the kind of creature who has been almost nonexistent at Halas Hall for years. A coach who, going by first blush, might be able to connect with players, especially young quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Is he a good coach? Who the hell knows?
Nagy was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator the last two seasons and didn’t get to call plays until the last six games of 2017. What can be said with certainty is that nobody really knows if he’ll be a successful head coach. How could anyone know, after what has been a Sunday-through-Tuesday romance with the Bears?
We do know that he, not head coach Andy Reid, was calling the plays when the Chiefs blew an 18-point halftime lead in a loss to the Titans in a playoff game Saturday. No subterfuge from him. No hiding.
‘‘Yeah, I called every single play in the second half,’’ he said. ‘‘Again, that there was a learning situation for me. I’ve gone back and looked at it. There are scenarios where I wish I would’ve made some different choices with the play-call. For me, that was a failure in my book. But I’ll grow from it, and I’ll learn from it, I promise you that, and I’ll use it as a strength here for me with the Chicago Bears. I felt terrible for our team, for our organization.’’
Nagy had a 4½-hour interview with Pace, chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips on Sunday, and let’s just say it was involved. Pace said he had 15 pages of questions for each coaching candidate. He said he had 25 to 30 references on each candidate.
There’s a fine line between thoroughness and a restraining order.
How can teams spend so much time researching candidates and end up being so wrong about them? That’s a question for another day or, optimistically, a question that won’t have to be asked about Nagy and the Bears. But the franchise has been so misguided about head coaches in the last 25 years that you can’t help but wonder if its due diligence needs to be more diligent.
Can an uplifting coach fire up a fan base whose flame has been doused again and again? Sure, for a while. But Nagy has to win. He has to turn Trubisky into a good quarterback, make Pace look like a genius and win games.
That’s it. He’ll own the city if he wins.
But this isn’t all on Nagy. The Bears weren’t bad just because of John Fox, his predecessor, nor will they be good just because of Nagy. Pace needs to raise his game in a big way for Nagy to have any chance. He has to hit on some free agents, his weakness so far. He has to build a much better roster. And he really needs Trubisky to be worthy of the second overall pick in the 2017 draft.
If Pace’s research is accurate, Trubisky will benefit from Nagy’s guidance. We’ll see.
Based on one news conference and the testimonials of his colleagues, the new Bears coach appears to have the ability to get the attention of an audience and a locker room. That’s an excellent start.
After Dick Jauron, Marc Trestman and Fox, will Nagy be the one coach who finally takes? Judging by all the gushing of the last few days, absolutely. Judging by team history, well, easy there, tiger.
Let’s just say we’ll see. There’s hope in that. And that’s good enough — for now.
Follow me on Twitter @MorrisseyCST.