Bears’ approach to hiring Matt Nagy stands out after Josh McDaniels fiasco
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A month Thursday, Matt Nagy agreed to a deal with the Bears, flew to Chicago on a chartered jet with general manager Ryan Pace, then signed his contract to be the Bears’ next coach.
Things didn’t go as smoothly for the Colts, of course, who once were considered serious competition for Nagy. In a development that rocked the NFL, Josh McDaniels backed out of his deal to become the Colts’ coach and opted to stay with the Patriots as their offensive coordinator.
It was a bad look for the Colts and GM Chris Ballard — and a worse one for McDaniels. But the fiasco cast the Bears’ coaching search in a positive light nearly two decades after the team found itself in a similar situation with Dave McGinnis in 1999.
Here’s a look at some of what the Bears said after hiring Nagy and what it means now:
Conviction and connection
What Pace said: ‘‘To me, it was very conclusive at the end. And that was a great feeling — to be able to have so much conviction in this decision — because of everything that we’ve done and the process that we’ve gone through.’’
What we think: Pace is confident in his own evaluations and is unapologetic when he acts on his beliefs, whether it was trading up to draft quarterback Mitch Trubisky or hiring Nagy.
Pace and McDaniels connected during their interview Jan. 5. McDaniels said before the Super Bowl that Pace was ‘‘tremendous’’ and ‘‘very well-prepared’’ and that the Bears’ presentation was ‘‘great.’’
McDaniels surprised the Bears in a way, but the team still left with apprehensions about McDaniels’ willingness to leave the Patriots.
What Pace said: ‘‘Having [chairman] George [McCaskey] and [CEO] Ted [Phillips] by my side was valuable because . . . when we did come to that conclusion, it was: ‘Hey, let’s go.’ ’’
What we think: The Bears were criticized for involving McCaskey and Phillips in the search, but their participation allowed Pace to act quickly once he made his choice.
For Pace, that happened during a private dinner with Nagy and their wives after their morning interview. It also took place after the Colts had met with Nagy.
Because Ballard had worked with Nagy in Kansas City, the Bears sensed they had to act fast if Nagy emerged as their favorite.
The Colts’ search was different. Owner Jim Irsay reportedly wasn’t involved until their second interview with McDaniels, which took place during the week off before the Super Bowl.
The Bears were certain of the uncertainty surrounding McDaniels. They also understood hiring McDaniels likely would involve waiting, therefore creating more uncertainty, especially for staffing.
Pace also felt better about Nagy. It started with his extensive research and continued when they connected in the interview.
By hiring Nagy a week after firing John Fox, the Bears were able to secure the return of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and lure respected offensive-line coach Harry Hiestand from Notre Dame.
What Nagy said: ‘‘I respect the heck out of Chris. He’s going to do a great job there in Indianapolis. He respects me and understands my decision. For me, he just wants the best for my family and for me in a business decision. But it was just a feel. And I know where we’re at here. It felt good.’’
What we think: Did the Bears steal Nagy from the Colts? Not exactly. The Colts never offered Nagy their coaching job. Then again, the conviction and quickness of the Bears’ decision-making also were factors.
Nagy and the Bears won each other over. It helped that they shared the same vision for Trubisky, but Nagy also felt comfortable with the Bears and Pace.
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.