Chicago Bears

Bears Off Season Part 2: Can Matt Nagy get out of his own way?

The protege’ takes off for flight

Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy went from 2018 Coach of the Year to everyone’s whipping boy in less than a year. How will Nagy come out firing in Year 3? If his off season coaching staff moves were any indication, it at least seemed like he did plenty of self-assessment. Nagy will never be noted as a man without confidence and hubris, and that may have come back to bite him in 2019, probably something to do with giving NFL coaches an off season to dissect his game film. Regardless, there were other factors involved in 2019’s mess of an offense, like a beyond under qualified quarterback, and an O line that severely regressed for some reason? Put all those pieces of a pie together back in the tray, and the offense looked like it got shoved off the windowsill and exploded into chunks on the ground.

Nagy’s background should be fairly well known by this point, as he is a protégé of Andy Reid, and therefore has tried to implement Reid’s version of the West Coast Offense. You may see other similarities with what the Eagles run, as their Head Coach Doug Pedersen and Nagy were on the Chiefs staff in the mid-2010’s. Either way, Nagy has had the unfortunate development of getting spoiled, playing with Andy Reid’s toys (Kelce, Hill,etc.) as an Offensive Coordinator, but realizing he is getting Kroger brand skill players on the Bears, sans Allen Robinson. (You may also recall a decade ago having Bears OC Mike Martz try to do the Greatest Show on Turf” Rams offense without four future Hall of Famers.)

I was told I’d have Warner, Faulk, Bruce, and Pace here. Wait a minute……

Save gettin’ cute for Instagram

With this being case, Nagy tried to get too cute all the time, a big problem when your play sheet is 90 pages long. Nagy got very specific with numerous formations, as well as what players were located where in the formations. Let’s say I’m watching film to scout on defense, I’m and tagging every play into Excel or Hudl. I see they only get into this certain formation with THESE people three times, another very similar formation, with a different guy at one spot two other times, etc. When I organize the formations, the infrequent amount of times the team gets into those exact lineups are easy tendencies that are a dead giveaway, unless of course, I haven’t seen other plays out of that yet.

Think about when the Bears would randomly bring in Cordarrelle Patterson and the play would get snuffed out. Dude, you played him like 8 plays a game, you might as well have a flashing sign over his head. The opposite of this would be the 2017 Rams, when the offense clicked in 2017 (when they’re O line was good and Gurley’s knee worked.) They operated out bunch trips like over 80% of the time. That’s absolutely unheard of? In the NFL? Insane right? Well, it worked. They could run like 6-8 or concepts out of that formation, and nothing about seeing the same lineup over and over would tip you off.

Not ENOUGH cooks in the kitchen for once

So here’s the deal. Nagy probably realized the previous guys he had in the QB coach and especially OC department were underqualified. Now Dave Ragone was kept as a holdover after coaching QB’s the past two years, but Nagy elevated him to passing game coordinator. A good professional move, but Ragone isn’t exactly getting hired off as an OC, yet. The bigger issue that Nagy cleaned up was removing former OC Mark Helfrich, who he hired two years ago as more of a meeting room guy to help design plays, but apparently, Helfrich was of no service installing them, game planning them, or being a calming voice in the ear on Sundays.

Nagy might have burdened himself with too much of the offense possibly due to a lack of knowledge and advice from his coaching staff when it came to game planning as well as game day adjustments.  All of these mitigating factors continuously put the offense in tougher situations for them, and obviously more predictable for the defense. Think of it like an arm wrestling much, it’s easier to get an advantage if you are near the center, and it gets harder and harder the farther the arm goes back.

“Hearrrtsss onnnnn Fiirrrrreeee”……

Here is where that mess of Nagy trying to do 4 jobs at once escalated. Who was watching from above in the box to help Nagy with in game adjustments? Who is doing the self-scouting during the week to be like “Hey coach, we do this one thing too much, let’s tweak it, or whatever”. How poor is the game planning? I feel like Nagy was sort of handcuffed by his own hires, and it’s a bit of both. Either Nagy was a control freak, or he had to be because he had the wrong guys in the wrong spots. You decide.

Like every person in a social media fight: “Where are my friends who agree with me?”

So Nagy has brought in new guys that he knows because get this….most coaches that know each other and have success, follow each other around. It’s super weird, right? Eagles HC Doug Pedersen was the first Reid acolyte, and Nagy was his understudy. Nagy recently hired Bill Lazor to be the new OC replacing Helfrich, who had run offenses for the Dolphins and Bengals over the course of four years, and the offenses weren’t terrible. (Again, it’s tough to get a big name when Nagy is entering possible lame duck status.)

The Eagles run a very similar offense, so Nagy dug up former OC and noted QB whisperer John DeFillipo. In between bouts as a QB Coach, DeFillippo has been an OC for three teams over the course of three seasons, you do the math. One could look at that as a red flag, but also realize looking at his coaching record, the Browns of 2014 were a dumpster fire, and so were the Jaguars last year. In 2018 he was fired from the Vikings who did fine offensively, but apparently he didn’t RUN THE DAMN BALL enough for Marty Schottenheimer clone Mike Zimmer, who still thinks it’s still 1988. (Meanwhile, Jeff Fisher still thinks it’s 1937.) Fun Fact. It’s not the amount of times you run the ball, it’s how well you run it when you need to. Quality over quantity kids.

Because when I think of 21st century offenses……I think, Jeff Fisher.

Nagy should be more comfortable with the guys he knows that are speaking his language, as long as he allows the input during meetings and game day, because it is a two way street. The two new additions have the same amount of experience being an OC, so hopefully light saber matches will be avoided. Even with the new toys Ryan Pace hands him, sometimes the best route is simpler is better. Ya know the old phrase, “Be You”, right?

“Should I keep the visor? Like, even when I’m indoors?”