Matt Nagy quickly winning over Bears’ defense: ‘He was born for this’
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Getting a day off from coach Matt Nagy was just the start. For second-year safety Eddie Jackson, a day spent at Topgolf made it special for everyone.
“[Nagy] won us over, I think, really last week with the Topgolf thing,” Jackson said. “It was something where everybody can get to know each other better with coaches and players.”
Nagy is still in the honeymoon phase of his takeover of Halas Hall.
For now, players are excited for different reasons. On offense, it’s what Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich are doing to modernize their attack for quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
On defense, the excitement begins with Nagy’s decision to retain coordinator Vic Fangio and his entire staff. But players also are experiencing what Nagy’s changes mean for the entire team. He’s finding ways to connect with them, whether it’s through weekly meetings or showing off on the field.
“He’s coming in here and wants to turn everything,” Jackson said Wednesday during organized team activities. “Everyone’s on board for it.”
That includes linebacker Danny Trevathan, who spent five of his six NFL seasons under John Fox. Trevathan sounds rejuvenated when discussing Nagy.
“We know he’s a hard worker just like we are,” Trevathan said. “He’s up there working just like we are.”
As far as first impressions go, Trevathan took note of everything.
“I like the way he came in,” Trevathan said. “He came in humble, but he was hungry. He came in anxious, moving around in the meetings. I like that. That gets me fired up. I feel like we’ve got a good leader up here in the head coach.”
Trevathan rambled off several of Nagy’s main messages, a good sign from a player signed two years ago because he was a “Fox guy.”
“Just be yourself, man, that was one of his mottos,” Trevathan said. “Be obsessed to be great, and be obsessed with winning. If you be yourself all the time, then you’ll be all right out here, and that’s all we want.”
The Bears want wins, too. But it’s May. At this point in the offseason program, Nagy’s off-the-field messages are nearly as important as what’s happening on it. Not only is he in the early stages of the installation of his offense, he has players to win over on both sides of the ball.
“I would say Nagy can be stern, and he can be playful, also,” said cornerback Prince Amukamara, who played under former Giants coach Tom Coughlin, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone and Fox.
“When you’re a first-year coach, you want to win your guys, and you want to be firm, and he’s doing that. You can’t really tell he’s a rookie coach or whatever. I feel like he was born for this, and he’s doing a great job.”
This includes finding ways to connect with defensive players. For Jackson, a golf outing helped. For Amukamara, it’s trash talk.
“I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like, ‘We’re coming at you 2-0’ and stuff like that. That just brings out the competition, and you always want that in your head coach.”