Taylor Gabriel’s research into new Bears coach Matt Nagy was encouraging.
On film, Gabriel saw the Chiefs’ explosive offense, one that attacked in different ways and one that could feature his elite, game-changing speed at receiver.
In conversations with Chiefs running back Charcandrick West, a close friend, Gabriel heard glowing praise for Nagy’s creativity.
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And then Gabriel met Nagy for the first time in person this week at Halas Hall.
“Smooth dude, man,” Gabriel said Thursday. “I like his swag a little bit. It’s nice. Meeting him the first time, it felt like I knew him for a long time.”
Money matters a lot in free agency, but it’s not the only thing that talks as teams and players search out each other when negotiations begin.
Nagy, who was hired just over two months ago, figured plenty in the decision-making of the Bears’ free-agent signings.
Of course, Nagy had an established connection with new backup quarterback Chase Daniel, having coached him for three years with the Chiefs.
“That was the biggest key for me, my relationship with Matt,” Daniel said.
But it’s what the Bears’ other free-agent signings said — Gabriel, receiver Allen Robinson and tight end Trey Burton — that stood out on a day full of introductory pleasantries.
In the last three years, general manager Ryan Pace worked with a gregarious storyteller with a notable resume. Former coach John Fox, 63, endeared himself to players through his stories, jokes and one-of-the-boys demeanor. He also took the Panthers and Broncos to the Super Bowl — a noteworthy accomplishment that Fox’s players, whether signings or draft picks, often mentioned.
Nagy, 39, is different. His pitch doesn’t involve the past, it involves potential. He’s a young coach in charge of a youth movement. He’s a creative, aggressive offensive mind in an offensively oriented league. Better yet, Nagy has a talented quarterback in Mitch Trubisky to mold and call plays for this season and beyond.
“It was a good fit for me,” said Robinson, the Bears’ prized free-agent addition. “Kansas City was a team that played a lot of prime-time games. Once you kind of see the offense that he runs, you know how everything gets run with the quarterback situation.”
Nagy’s offense stood out to Burton because the Eagles run the same kind. Nagy took over as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator under coach Andy Reid after Doug Pederson left to be the Eagles’ head coach in 2016.
“One of my favorite things about Doug is … he would say this all the time, almost after every meeting: ‘I want you to let your personality show,’ ” Burton said. “And a lot of coaches don’t really say that.”
Pederson told Burton that he would like Nagy because of his offensive plans but also because of his personality. Similar to Gabriel, Burton’s first impressions of Nagy were encouraging, if not exciting.
“I remember the first conversation we had,” Burton said. “He had so much juice on the phone. It kind of brought me back. Him and Doug are really similar.”
The Bears’ hope is that those similarities result in a similar path of success.
There is no guarantee of that, but until actual games are played, the words of the Bears’ new players remain meaningful. Nagy has the offensive mind that Fox never had and the charisma and presence that former coach Marc Trestman also lacked during his two-year tenure.
“Since the time I’ve stepped foot in here, coach Nagy’s one of those guys who just breathes positive energy,” Robinson said. “Along with that, and him also just being the guy he is, he has made me feel welcome, confident in being here [and] confident in the direction that this organization is going.”
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