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.