Halfway through his first news conference as Bears coach, Matt Nagy laughed. He just had to, when asked what it meant that Chiefs coach Andy Reid – his mentor – called him the best head-coaching candidate he ever had on his coaching staff.
“How difficult do you think it is [to live up to]? Yeah,” Nagy said before a hearty laugh. “No, I love him to death, but whoooooo.”
And then, the young, eager coach inside him spoke up.
“But, hey, that’s a challenge, though, right?” Nagy said. “That’s a challenge. He gave me an opportunity in this league. In 2010, he gave me an opportunity, and I told him I’m not going to let him down.
“And when I hugged him [Monday], I told him I loved him. I said, ‘I’m not going to let you down.’ And I’m going to stick to that.”
Outside Halas Hall, observers will stick to comparing the Bears to the 2017 Rams and their quick turnaround under coach Sean McVay. The Bears’ ability to retain defensive coordinator Vic Fangio only encourages and enhances those comparisons, too.
Nagy is to quarterback Mitch Trubisky what McVay is for quarterback Jared Goff, the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. Keeping Fangio in charge of defense is similar to the Rams’ decision to hire longtime defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Having Fangio allows Nagy to focus more on Trubisky and the locker room in his first season, much like McVay was able to do in his.
But Reid’s praise of Nagy and Nagy’s response to it are worth remembering when considering what the expectations should be for the Bears. The Rams are merely a starting point. Reid is the standard that Nagy should be held to.
We still don’t know what the Rams are. They went from 4-12 last year to 11-5 this season, but their success this season could be a flash in the pan.
Plenty of coaches have experienced success early in the tenures, only to be fired before their contract expires. It happens all the time. A great start doesn’t always equate to long-term success.
Chip Kelly replaced Reid with the Eagles, went 10-6 in each of first two seasons and then didn’t make it fully through his third after a number of baffling personnel decisions.
The Bears’ went after the quick-success story under former general manager Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman with a veteran-laden team, and we all know how that went in the end.
It’s important to be building toward something, to have a vision past the immediate season. Bears general manager Ryan Pace has that, and Nagy apparently has it, too, having worked for Reid for 10 years. It’s partly why Pace and Nagy connected.
When Reid transformed the Eagles into a perennial contender, Nagy was playing at Delaware and in the Arena Football League, but he was a part of Reid’s staff when the Eagles transitioned away from Donovan McNabb, a…