Kansas City Chiefs

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. 

Did Kansas City's general manager guarantee the Bears will sign Albert Wilson?

USA Today

Did Kansas City's general manager guarantee the Bears will sign Albert Wilson?

INDIANAPOLIS — Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach was asked Thursday if he hoped to re-sign wide receiver Albert Wilson. He offered this revealing response: 

“Well, Matt’s in Chicago," Veach said. "He knows all about him.”

This doesn’t confirm that the Bears are a stone-cold lock to sign Wilson, the versatile 25-year-old who caught 42 passes for 554 yards in Matt Nagy’s offense last year. But the connections are clear: The Bears need receivers, Nagy and Wilson worked together, and Wilson will be available when teams can begin negotiating contracts with free agents March 12. 

"When teams will watch Albert they’ll understand how valuable he is," Veach said. "We certainly feel the same way and would be super excited to get him back, but we know we have to go through the process here."

The 5-foot-9, 200 pound Wilson went undrafted back in 2014 but quickly impressed Kansas City coaches and personnel with a tough-nosed, savvy skillset. 

"He’s a dirty, tough player," Veach said. "He does everything, from the slot to the outside. He can block. He can return if you need him to. He’s a very valuable commodity for us, and certainly has done a lot for us over the last few years.”

Wilson’s best spot is as a slot receiver, and it’s easy to envision him as a nice complementary piece to a more productive outside target (Cameron Meredith, Kevin White, or someone who isn’t on the Bears yet) and/or a productive tight end (Adam Shaheen, potentially). Wilson’s knowledge of Nagy’s offensive concepts could help quickly make him a reliable target for Mitchell Trubisky in 2018.

So yes, it makes a lot of sense for the Bears to sign Wilson. It’s a move that, if it’s executed later this month, will have made sense ever since the Bears hired Nagy back in January. Veach’s comments on Thursday don’t necessarily guarantee the move will happen, but probably represent a feeling around the league that Wilson will, most likely, sign with the Bears. 

The best coaching candidate Andy Reid's ever had? Matt Nagy thanks mentor after receiving high praise

The best coaching candidate Andy Reid's ever had? Matt Nagy thanks mentor after receiving high praise

The Andy Reid coaching tree has many branches, but the man himself thinks Matt Nagy might be the best one yet.

Word got out in recent days that Reid believed the news Bears head coach to be the best coaching candidate he's ever had, high praise from a guy who counts John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera and Doug Pederson, among others, as former assistants.

Nagy was asked about that assessment during his introductory press conference Tuesday at Halas Hall and how difficult it is to live up to that kind of hype.

"How difficult do you think it is?" Nagy said to laughter. "Yeah, I love him to death but woo.

"Hey, that’s a challenge, though, right? That’s a challenge. He gave me an opportunity in this league in 2010. He gave me an opportunity. And I told him I’m not going to let him down. And when I hugged him yesterday, told him I loved him, I said 'I’m not going to let you down.' And I’m going to stick to that."

Nagy spent his entire career as an NFL assistant under Reid with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, so it's no surprise that he shares such a strong relationship with Reid.

The Bears are hoping they become the next team to benefit from hiring a former Reid assistant. Harbaugh won the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens to cap the 2012 season. Rivera took the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl two seasons ago. And Pederson currently has the Eagles in the No. 1 spot on the NFC side of this year's playoff bracket. Other former Reid assistants include Sean McDermott, who took the Buffalo Bills to the postseason this year, and Pat Shurmur, the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator and former Cleveland Browns head coach who also interviewed for the Bears job before it went to Nagy.

If Nagy can deliver those kinds of results, the Bears' choice will be proven a good one. And it will be another Reid disciple making good as a head coach.

"Coach Reid, my mentor, the best," Nagy said Tuesday. "Words don’t do it justice, he’s my guy."