Wildcard Saturday Commentary: Nagy Could Be Next McVay (But What About His Staff?)

| January 6th, 2018

Matt Nagy has spent his entire career with Andy Reid; not a bad guy to hitch your wagon to. Reid’s coaching tree has had prolific success, winning championships as head coaches, coordinators and position coaches. Just look at the his 2001 staff in Philadelphia:

  • Brad Childress (QB)
  • Pat Shurmur (TE)
  • Jim Johnson (DC)
  • Ron Rivera (LB)
  • Steve Spagnuolo (DB)
  • Leslie Frazier (DB)
  • Sean McDermott (ASST.)
  • John Harbaugh (ST)
  • Dave Toub (AST)

Behind every great coach there are great assistants. None of Andy Reid’s assistants rose as quickly as Nagy. But the young offensive coordinator’s lack of experience in multiple staff rooms could suggest to NFL front offices an inability to find his own assistants, keeping him from the opportunity to be a head coach.

When it comes to head coach qualifications, Nagy is among the better candidates. Unlike Josh McDaniels, Pat Shurmur and John DeFilippo, Nagy has never been fired. He has just kept working his way up the ladder. After a short career as a quarterback in the Arena Football League, the 39-year-old started as an intern with Philadelphia in 2008, then he became an assistant then quality control coach.

When Reid went from Philadelphia to Kansas City, he brought Nagy with, promoting him to quarterbacks coach. Under his direction, Alex Smith has put together the best stretch of his career. In 2016, Nagy was promoted to co-offensive coordinator, replacing Doug Pederson, and then got sole possession of the job this year.

After a midseason swoon in which the Chiefs failed to score more than 17 points in four of six games, Reid did what he has never done before by handing off play-calling duties to Nagy. The result was five straight games in which they scored at least 26 points, finishing 4-1 down the stretch, including a 27-24 win in Week 17 in which rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes impressed.

Nagy’s resume is downright impressive, mirroring current NFL darling and like Coach of the Year Sean McVay. And per reports, he loves Mitch Trubisky.

It’s also telling that a guy who worked in the same building as him — Chris Ballard — requested an interview. But how is he going to fill out that staff? This is an issue Ryan Pace brought up in his press conference, specifically mentioning how important it will be for a younger coach.

The options Nagy would have from Reid aren’t all that impressive, with the list topped by Spagnuolo and Leslie Frazier. Perhaps there is a young coach that Nagy knows will do a good job but that isn’t likely to inspire confidence in a GM who needs to make sure he hits a home run with this hire. Nagy could have Reid call Vic Fangio — the two share an agent — and try to convince him to stay with the Bears. Or Reid might know somebody else who owes him a favor.

Pace could already have somebody else in mind. When the Bears hired Lovie Smith, he wanted Bob Babich as his defensive coordinator before Jerry Angelo nixed it and brought Ron Rivera in. The same happened when Phil Emery brought in Mel Tucker instead of Marc Trestman’s choice of Tim Tibesar. But Pace comes from New Orleans where they’ve always had issues finding defensive coordinators. Could he turn to a Chuck Pagano or Jack Del Rio or someone like that?

It’s not hard to see why everybody loves McVay but he has Wade Phillips, one of the greatest defensive coordinators in league history, autonomously running half the team. Can Nagy find his Wade? The Bears need to hear the answer to that question. If he answers it correctly, there’s no reason why he can’t be The Guy.

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