Eagles

Bears head coach Matt Nagy still really wants to be like the Eagles

Bears head coach Matt Nagy still really wants to be like the Eagles

Sorry to break it to you, passionate Eagles fans, but the person most obsessed with the Birds lives in Chicago.

Bears head coach Matt Nagy is entering his third year as Chicago's head coach. He's still sort of searching for his coaching identity, and he keeps returning to one team for inspiration: the Eagles, who beat Nagy in his first-ever playoff game back in 2019 with the good ol' Double Doink.

The latest example of Nagy's Eagles obsession comes in a column this week from Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, who talked to Nagy about the Bears' offseason.

Since last season ended, Nagy has hired former Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and the Bears traded for Eagles legend Nick Foles, both members of the Birds' Super Bowl squad. 

Coincidence?

Nah.

Nagy wants to be the Eagles so, so bad:

The model’s actually similar to how the 2017 champion Eagles’ staff—headed by former Nagy staffmate Doug Pederson, with DeFilippo there too—was set up. The head coach (Nagy) calls plays, the coordinator (Lazor) runs unit and staff meetings, and coaches across the staff are responsible for different pieces of the offense (third down, red zone, etc.).

[...]

“The way they had things in Philadelphia, with Frank Reich, Pederson and Flip in 2017, that’s a pretty good deal there,” Nagy said.

It's kind of neat to see Pederson's influence start to spread across the league, as he's recognized as one of the NFL's most forward-thinking coaches.

But, of course, this isn't the first time the Eagles have directly influenced Nagy's style and decision-making.

After the Double Doink in 2019, when Cody Parkey (a former Eagle!) bonked a 43-yard field goal to lose the Bears a home playoff game, Nagy nearly went insane trying to fix his team's kicker situation.

He couldn't shake the 43-yarder against the Eagles, so much so that he carried that exact distance into the following season, when he had prospective kickers attempt 43-yard kicks in front of the whole team:

Nagy blew his whistle, but not to signal the end of practice. He called up Fry for a 43-yard attempt with the full field goal unit in place. The symbolism didn’t require an explanation. To layer additional pressure, the loud music that played throughout the day stopped and no one spoke.

[...]

They went in numerical order. Blewitt missed. Bednarski missed. Jones missed. Carpenter missed. Ultimately, the group went a combined 2-for-8 from what Evans referred to as, “the Parkey Spot.”

It's hard to forget your first heartbreak, and Nagy, himself a former Eagles coach, seems to have fixated on that loss to the Eagles in a big way.

Of course, that Super Bowl Eagles team was a once-in-a-lifetime combination of talent, approach, and cosmic karma. It can't be replicated.

But Nagy sure seems intent on chasing it anyway.

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The biggest hurdle as Jalen Mills attempts to change positions 

The biggest hurdle as Jalen Mills attempts to change positions 

The good news is that Jalen Mills knows the Eagles’ defense. And he knows the safety position. 

Now he just has to learn the safety position in the Eagles’ defense. 

The effectiveness with which he does so will have major implications for the Eagles in 2020 as the team tries to have the former cornerback replace their veteran leader Malcolm Jenkins in the secondary. Jim Schwartz thinks Mills has all the tools to play safety in his defense but Mills has to prepare to play it in a most unusual offseason. 

The toughest part of this transition for Mills comes down to one word: Communication. 

That’s why once the virtual spring began this offseason, Mills and returning free safety Rodney McLeod put in extra time on their own. The two had private film sessions to work on chemistry and communication. At Mills’ request, they started with Week 1 and went through the Eagles’ opponents for the 2020 season. 

I really just wanted to hear the way that he communicated,” Mills said. “Because, of course, he’s been on the back end and I was playing on the outside. Now, me hearing how he’s communicating. I told him I didn’t want to switch anything that he did because he’s been successful at that spot. Just more of learning from him and the different type of verbiage that he uses. 

“So I don’t get out there and say something and it may throw him off or slow him down. I just wanted to make sure that he’s still playing fast. At the end of the day, I know the defense, I just want to get the exact verbiage that he may have been using on the back end.

For the last four years, McLeod has played next to Jenkins and the two developed a rapport. While McLeod has played with Mills, it has been in a completely different capacity. They need to be way more in sync this year to make things pop. 

Mills explained that when he played outside corner, if he couldn’t hear a call from the MIKE linebacker, he’d look to the sideline for a hand signal and then be ready for the snap. But as a safety, Mills will have more responsibility. Once he gets a call, it’s part of his new job to relay that information. He’ll have to make sure everybody — corners, linebackers, defensive linemen — knows the call. 

And to do that, it’s all about communication, knowing how to communicate with the rest of the defense. That’s where those extra sessions with McLeod came into play. 

Mills also needs to get rid of some of the rust when it comes to just thinking like a safety again. It’s been a while since he played the position at LSU. 

“Making sure he sees the game the right way as he’s now switching positions and the hardest part for him is not defense, right?” McLeod said. “Like he knows all the schematics but it’s now lining up in a different spot. It’s now him understanding, ‘Where do I need to have my eyes here?’ ‘How are you seeing things?’ 

“I believe the chemistry, man, is going to be a lot easier than people think. And so far, so good. It seems like within the couple of days that we’ve been together as a unit, he’s really taken a step further. I’m very confident that we will be good once Week 1 hits and he’ll be ready to rock and make a lot of plays at his new position.”

While the Eagles are technically already in training camp, their first practice won’t happen until Aug. 12. After that, their first padded practice won’t be until Aug. 17. 

So from the time the Eagles begin padded practices they’ll have less than a month to prepare for their season opener in Washington on Sept. 13. That means less than a month of practices for Mills to make his position switch. 

That’s where that extra time might really pay off. 

If Mills doesn’t work at safety, the Eagles also have free agent Will Parks and rookie K’Von Wallace on the team. But it’s pretty clear that Mills is the guy to get the first crack at the job. 

“Though he is making a position switch,” McLeod said. “I think he will thrive in his position.”

We’ll find out soon enough. 

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Eagle Eye podcast: Appreciating Fletcher Cox’s prime

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Eagle Eye podcast: Appreciating Fletcher Cox’s prime

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro get together after the NFL’s opt-out period is over. 

The Eagles had just one player opt out of the 2020 season. Exploring more questions about having a season and Doug Pederson’s role as a virtual coach. 

Is it really a good year to be an undrafted free agent? Plus, takeaways from interviews with Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills and Fletcher Cox. 

  • (0:29) — Deadline passes with only 1 Eagle known to be opting out.
  • (12:23) — Doug Pederson is still leading the team... virtually.
  • (18:06) — Good year for undrafted free agents?
  • (25:31) — Takeaways from zoom interviews with Jalen Mills, Rodney McLeod, and Fletcher Cox.
  • (42:48) — Shady signs with Tampa Bay.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles