There was a rumor floating around Twitter in the aftermath of the Kansas City Chiefs’ playoff collapse: It was Andy Reid, not Matt Nagy, who was calling the plays as the Chiefs squandered an 18-point lead in their 22-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
That rumor, as it turned out, wasn’t true.
“I called every single play in the second half,” Nagy said.
Nagy didn’t dodge the question when asked how things went so wrong in what wound up being his final two quarters with the Chiefs. The 39-year-old took accountability for the Chiefs’ collapse, striking a refreshing and honest tone with the spotlight on him for the first time at Halas Hall.
“That there was a learning situation for me,” Nagy said. “I’ve gone back and looked at it. There are scenarios where I wish I would've made some different choices with the play call.
“For me, that was a failure in my book.”
That's a strong quote. It was striking, especially in the wake of the secretive, sometimes combative public-facing nature of the John Fox era, to hear a coach admit "failure" in a press conference, let alone his first one in a new city.
That wild card playoff game was only the sixth time Nagy had called plays in his career, too, and he said on Tuesday he hopes to be a better coach because of that experience.
“I’ll grow from it and I'll learn from it, I promise you that, and I'll use it as a strength here for me with the Chicago Bears,” Nagy said. “I felt terrible for our team, for our organization, put in a lot of good work. Again, going back to the question of losing somebody, when you lose a player like [Travis Kelce], you got to adapt. And I met with our offense, our offensive staff supports me, coach Reid supports me.
“But I called every play in that second half. I stand by it. And I promise you I'm going to learn from it.”
Not only did Nagy take accountability in public for his playcalling during the Chiefs’ collapse, but he did so during his 4 1/2 hour interview with Ryan Pace Sunday morning. Pace said he watched the Chiefs’ game from his hotel room Saturday night and had “mixed emotions,” but in asking Nagy about it less than 24 hours later, the Bears’ general manager came away impressed.
“One of the things I love about Matt is his humility and willingness to come in and talk about that moment like he did with (the media),” Pace said. “He owned it. ‘Hey, guys, this is what happened, I was calling the plays, this is what I learned from that moment, and this is what I’m going to do better going forward.’ I think that says a lot about him as a person.”
And it, too, says a lot about who the Bears believe they have in the 16th head coach in franchise history.