Chicago Bears

Why Mark Helfrich, despite no NFL experience, fits Matt Nagy’s vision for Bears’ offense

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AP

Why Mark Helfrich, despite no NFL experience, fits Matt Nagy’s vision for Bears’ offense

The Los Angeles Rams had Sean McVay, Matt LaFleur and Greg Olson in place to design an offense and coach up Jared Goff in 2017. The Philadelphia Eagles had Doug Pederson, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo for Carson Wentz. 

The Bears now have two-thirds of their quarterback-centric offensive structure in place. 

According to multiple reports, Matt Nagy will hire former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich to be his offensive coordinator. The 44-year-old Helfrich was Oregon’s head coach from 2013-2016 and previously was the Ducks’ offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly from 2009-2012. 

Helrich, like Nagy, was a former quarterback himself and held jobs as a quarterbacks coach at Boise State, Arizona State, Colorado and Oregon. He broke into coaching in 1997, when former Oregon offensive coordinator and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter hired him as a graduate assistant. 

In a Bleacher Report article about Helfrich from 2014, Koetter had this to say:

"He sees the game through the quarterback's eyes. We all have ideas, but if your quarterback can't execute those ideas, they are lines on a paper. Mark is as smart a football guy as I know."

While Nagy will call plays for the Bears’ offense, Helfrich will be important in designing concepts and providing ideas for what the offense will look like. Expect Helfrich’s time running Oregon’s innovative up-tempo spread offense to blend with Nagy’s modern west coast scheme to allow more creativity for Trubisky, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and the rest of an offense that, outside of a few trick plays, felt stale and conservative under John Fox and Dowell Loggains in 2017. 

Helfrich hasn’t coached at the NFL level, but Nagy and the Bears clearly were not only sold on him, but sold him on their offensive coordinator job given this from ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg: 

Nagy said on Monday his play-calling style is “aggressive” which would seem to fit the bigger picture of Helfrich’s style, too. The best-case scenario for this pairing is that the Bears’ offense is a lot more effective — and aesthetically pleasing — than it was in 2017. 

Future Bear? Top wideout prospect Calvin Ridley announces he's heading to NFL Draft

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USA TODAY

Future Bear? Top wideout prospect Calvin Ridley announces he's heading to NFL Draft

A guy who could be one of the Bears' top targets this spring declared for the NFL Draft on Wednesday.

Two days after his Alabama Crimson Tide won the national championship, wide receiver Calvin Ridley announced he's skipping his senior season to pursue a pro career.

This was obviously expected, as Ridley was one of the best wideouts in college football this season. But it's welcome news for teams looking to add an impact pass-catcher through the draft, and the Bears could very well fit that description.

A lack of high-caliber wide receivers around Mitch Trubisky was a big talking point during the quarterback's rookie season, and while Cameron Meredith and Kevin White are both expected to be back after missing the entire 2017 season, there's little doubt that the receiving corps could use an upgrade.

For the Bears, picking eighth, Ridley would be as attractive a receiving prospect as anyone. He had a monster freshman year in 2015, catching 89 passes for 1,045 yards and seven touchdowns. After a 769-yard, seven-touchdown seasons as a sophomore in 2016, he caught 63 passes this past season for 967 yards and five touchdowns, including the scoring catch with under four minutes to play in regulation in Monday's title game.

All in all, Ridley caught 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns, the first and third of those numbers being second most in Alabama program history.

Rotoworld's Josh Norris currently projects Ridley as a mid-first-round pick but has him as the first receiver selected. If the Bears choose to go with a first-round wideout again — they made White the seventh-overall pick in 2015 — they could gow ith Ridley.

Report: Vic Fangio expected to return to Bears as Matt Nagy's defensive coordinator

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AP

Report: Vic Fangio expected to return to Bears as Matt Nagy's defensive coordinator

Vic Fangio isn't going anywhere.

According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Fangio will return to the team as defensive coordinator under new head coach Matt Nagy.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that it will be a three-year deal.

Fangio's contract expired Tuesday morning, the same day the team introduced Nagy to the media, and there was plenty of speculation that Fangio could leave for a job elsewhere — including a mention of interest from the rival Green Bay Packers.

But retaining Fangio's services is huge for Nagy and the Bears. Fangio spent all three seasons of the John Fox Era as defensive coordinator and transformed a struggling defense into one of the 10 best units in the NFL, statistically. The Bears ranked in the top 10 in the league in total defense this past season, allowing an average of 319.1 yards per game to opposing offenses. They ranked seventh in the NFL in pass defense, seventh in scoring defense and 11th in rush defense. Those numbers are especially impressive considering the amount of injuries sustained on that side of the ball this past season.

In transitioning from head coach to the next, the consistency Fangio brings to the defensive side of the ball will be extremely valuable, especially for young defenders the Bears have high hopes for like Leonard Floyd, Kyle Fuller, Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson.

Fangio was one of six coaches interviewed for the head-coaching job that eventually went to Nagy. Prior to joining Fox's staff, Fangio served as Jim Harbaugh's defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers.