Matt Nagy is coaching in the Super Bowl for the first time, as quarterbacks coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. Nagy is fortunate to be able to work with one of the best quarterbacks in the game, Patrick Mahomes, but he also worked with one of the most promising prospects when he coached the Bears: Justin Fields. Obviously things did not work out nearly as well in Chicago as they have in Kansas City. Nagy caught up with the media at the start of Super Bowl week to reflect on where things went wrong with Fields’ rookie season.
“You go back to the Cleveland Browns game, right?” Nagy said. “It was a really, really difficult game. I think there was eight or nine sacks, and it's not what we wanted for him, for Justin. We didn't want it for us, we didn't want it for Justin. The last thing you want is to hurt somebody’s confidence, a young quarterback, like we did that game. No one wants that for anybody. And so we needed to learn from that and be able to change some things and how we handled them.”
The Bears initially planned to have Fields sit behind Andy Dalton for a portion of his rookie season, learning along the way. But Dalton injured himself partway through Week 2, and Fields was thrust into duty. The disastrous Cleveland game followed. It was Fields’ first start and he only completed 6-20 passes for 68 yards. To refresh Nagy’s memory, it was nine sacks.
“Ryan Pace, myself and everybody in our organization, we were all in on drafting Justin and we all were committed to him and we had a plan, and obviously it didn't work out for us,” Nagy said. “But we also had a plan on how to develop him and how to see him grow and, you know, to work to his strengths. It's hard to do that right away, in months and summers and one year. In fairness to every quarterback that's in this league, it is hard to do what you think they're going to be in one year. It's hard. I don't care what anybody says. These guys need time to develop. And there's plenty of instances across this league of that being true.”
Nagy reiterated he and the rest of the staff had a plan for how to develop Fields, from how to build a scheme to how they handled practices. A lot of that plan was called into question when Fields had limited reps in Training Camp, and when the offense clearly wasn’t built to his strengths, or to protect him.
“We needed to learn from that and be able to change some things and how we handled them, but you end up running out of time,” Nagy said.
Regardless of Nagy’s disappointing end to his tenure as Bears head coach, he said there’s no bad blood.
“We are all in on rooting for Justin,” Nagy said. “Want nothing but good things for him and he's a helluva player.”