Praise for Matt Nagy was easy to find around Indianapolis this week

USA Today

Praise for Matt Nagy was easy to find around Indianapolis this week

INDIANAPOLIS — We won’t know for a few years if Ryan Pace’s vision for the Bears is ultimately successful. The moves he makes in the next two months, whether it’s a blockbuster trade for a wide receiver or drafting a guard in the top 10, will have an impact on that success, of course. 

But the biggest impact will come from from the development — or lack thereof — of Mitch Trubisky under the careful watch of Matt Nagy.

Pace tied his time in Chicago to Trubisky when he traded up one spot to draft him last April, then set out to build the best possible structure for the Bears’ franchise quarterback after firing John Fox in January. Just as he did with Trubisky, Pace had conviction in hiring Nagy just a week after jettisoning Fox. 

The starting point for that success or failure is with how Trubisky develops under Nagy. And that’s why we won’t know if it’s going to work for a few more years.

Though if you’re a Bears fan, it’s hard not to get excited about what Nagy can do with Trubisky when listening to his former colleagues talk about him. 

“He operates from that mindset of just cut it loose, to attack defenses,” Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said. “He’s in the game plan. He’s going to put people in position to make plays. He’s gonna trust the quarterback. He’ll put a lot on his plate. I’m sure it’ll be a process that gets developed over the years, so I’m sure he’s not gonna throw everything at Mitch from Day  1. But I think eventually he’s gonna have the expectation for him to grasp a lot of concepts and to take that offense to another level.”

Veach is one of Nagy’s best friends — the two were college teammates at Delaware, and Veach laughed that Nagy is an “awful athlete” — and vouched for the football passion exhibited by the Bears’ new coach. 

“He trusts the people around him, and that's a big deal,” Vetch said. “He's going to let people do what they do. He's going to trust the process and he's going to put full faith in them. In that quarterback room and that install room, he's going to be creative, be innovative and try to bring the offense to another level.”

Andy Reid, whose coaching tree includes the likes of Doug Pederson, John Harbaugh and Ron Rivera, said Nagy is “one of my favorite guys” and has what it takes to be another successful branch of that tree. 

“You are getting somebody that is extremely intelligent,” Reid said. “Works very hard. He is honest, he will shoot you straight. When he stands up there to tell you, it’s going to be the truth, which helps in your job. He will be a great leader. He is a leader of men. Not just of the office and the people he has to deal with there, but the football team. He will give them direction and I think with the character on your team, I think they will understand that and they will follow him. 

“In time, I think good things will happen for the Chicago Bears.”

That’s the gamble Pace took when he hired Nagy to be the guy to pair with Trubisky. The hires Nagy made — most notably, retaining Vic Fangio and his defensive staff, bringing in Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator and and luring Harry Hiestand, who had interest from other NFL teams, to coach the offensive line — were roundly praised around Indianapolis during the NFL Combine. The people surrounding a first-time head coach are crucial to that person’s initial success, and by all indications, Nagy assembled a strong staff (including, it’s worth mentioning, Brad Childress as a senior consultant). 

Still, this is March, and we still have half a year until Trubisky plays under Nagy in a game that counts. But if you were looking for reasons to have hope about the Nagy era, they were easy to find in Indianapolis this week. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who should the Bears sign, Allen Hurns or Cam Meredith?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Who should the Bears sign, Allen Hurns or Cam Meredith?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Chris Emma (670 The Score) and Ben Finfer join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel.

Allen Robinson’s former Jaguars teammate is a free agent. Would signing Allen Hurns make sense for the Bears?

Plus, Loyola has traffic problems on the Road to the Final Four and the guys debate the biggest need for the Blackhawks heading into a long offseason.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

USA Today

Kyle Fuller believes he's a Top 5 cornerback in the NFL

Kyle Fuller caused a bit of a panic late Friday afternoon when a report dropped that he signed an offer sheet with the Green Bay Packers. For a few hours, the prospect — even if it was always unlikely — of the Bears losing their best cornerback to their arch rivals to the north loomed over Chicago. 

For Fuller, though, he said he barely had time to think about the possibility of cashing in on his breakout 2017 season with the Packers. The Bears quickly matched the offer sheet, officially announcing the four-year deal Tuesday that makes Fuller one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL. 

“It was crazy not really knowing what to expect,” Fuller said. “I would have never expected it. But when (the Packers’ offer sheet) came, it was definitely something to consider, just on the business side of it. At the end of the day, how it all played out, I’m definitely happy.”

Fuller sounded like someone who took a more passive role to his quasi-restricted free agency that was set about when the Bears placed the transition tag on him, allowing them to match any offer sheet that he were to sign. Fuller said he didn’t know all the details of what was going on with offer sheets coming in and negotiations with the Bears.

“I kinda was just getting the information from (my agents) and going with the flow of everything and knowing that at the end of the day it would end up working out,” Fuller said. 

The $14 million average annual value of Fuller’s contract ranks fifth among cornerbacks, behind only Washington’s Josh Norman ($15 million), New York’s Trumaine Johnson ($14.5 million) Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes ($14.02 million) and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson ($14.01 million), according to Spotrac. 

Fuller said he considers himself a top-five cornerback in the league, and he played like someone who could wind up in that discussion in 2017. The 2014 first-round pick was one of four players to break up 20 or more passes last year, and he picked off two passes in December while providing excellent support against the run. 

“We could not be happier to have Kyle under contract for four more years,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “We feel he is an ascending player on our top 10 defense and we look forward to him having many more productive seasons here in Chicago.”