What Matt Nagy’s coordinator search tells us about the Bears head coach’s style
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Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is the only member of Matt Nagy’s staff — his new boss included — with any major-college or NFL head-coaching experience. So Helfrich can appreciate how Nagy maneuvered through the first two weeks of his Bears career.
“I continue to be extremely impressed with Matt,” Helfrich, Oregon’s head coach from 2013 to ’16, said last week. “This is a tough time of year in coaching. There’s a lot of hiring. And where there’s a hiring, there’s a firing. And he has handled it unbelievably well and with class. . . .
“The humanity, the professionalism, all the things he’s shown in terms of dealing with the hirings and firings, that’s hard. It’s very easy in the media, and it’s been said a time or two — ‘Fire so-and-so.’ Well, there are about 30 other people that are affected by so-and-so, right? I think he’s been great in terms of that.’’
With team-building still far away — the Bears will travel to the Senior Bowl this week, the NFL Scouting Combine next month and explore free agency in March — Nagy’s pursuit of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, special-teams coordinator Chris Tabor and Helfrich offers the most immediate glimpse into his management style.
“For me, personally, it’s been a fun process,” Nagy said Thursday. “To really dig down deep and get to see what they’re all about, who they are.”
Nagy first pitched potential staff members to general manager Ryan Pace, chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips during his interview in Kansas City. When he was hired, he moved quickly.
“That’s one of the most important questions, especially when you’re talking to a younger coach: What’s their staff going to look like?” Pace said. “It wasn’t just, ‘These are the guys, and these are the reasons why.’ It was, ‘These are the guys, and this is how they fit together to create a good chemistry among the staff and how they balance each other out.’ ”
Nagy wanted to find out whether Helfrich was comfortable jumping to the NFL for the first time after running his own program, thinking the former Ducks coach could help him grow as a play-caller and boss.
“I thought that was very valuable,” Nagy said. “So it’s been great learning more and more about him each day.”
The Bears’ brass wanted Fangio to stay, but Nagy had to make sure it was more than an arranged marriage.
“No. 1, you have to understand that this is a people business,” Nagy said. “I felt like one of my strengths is just trying to understand the different dynamics of who we are as coaches and where we go. The second Vic and I sat down and started talking, it was easy for me to tell that this thing could work.”
Fangio said Nagy was open to new ideas. That was important for him to hear, given that Nagy had coached under one man — Andy Reid — his whole career.
“I think he’s at a good stage in his career to get this opportunity,” Fangio said. “I think he’s attacking it with enthusiasm, an open mind, open to finding out better ways to do things, potentially.”
Tabor had a connection to Nagy through his mentor, Dave Toub, who worked with Nagy in Kansas City.
“[Nagy is] just a first-class guy,” Tabor said. “What you see is what you get. Extremely intelligent, enthusiastic and has a plan of exactly how he wants to do things.”
That plan yielded three coaches he coveted.
“For me, just getting these guys on board is only going to make this team better; it’s only going to make me better as a coach,” Nagy said. “And that was my No. 1 goal going into it, so I’m excited.”
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.