Perhaps the Chicago Bears offense failing to achieve the Version 2.0 Matt Nagy promised before the season was because he had too many people to teach.
Early in Nagy’s tenure, before the first training camp practice, he regularly brought up the fact that it wasn’t just the players who had to learn the offense, but the coaches. Now with Juan Castillo as his offensive line coach and (reportedly, by DBB) Pat Shurmur as the offensive coordinator, Nagy has filled his staff with some of this offense’s finest teachers.
Mark Helfrich and Harry Hiestand are probably very good coaches, but neither was well-versed in what’s commonly known as “The Andy Reid Philosophy”. More to the point, both were hired specifically to bring outside elements to the offense -Helfrich the RPO game and Hiestand the power running. Neither worked out.
For Nagy, the best thing to do was to get back to the offense, to the basics. Whether the team intends on running version 1.0, 2.0 or jumping to 3.0 next season, they now have an offensive coordinator and line coach who have proven track records in accomplishing whatever version is required.
The idea that the offensive coordinator has limited input with an offensive head coach/play-caller is flawed logic. Play-calling is only a small part of the offensive approach each week. The coordinator is key for ideas. Whether it’s telling the play-caller what will or won’t work as the team prepares or helping make adjustments in the game, the coordinator is a valuable voice. Helfrich couldn’t fix an offense he didn’t know. (It’s almost hard to blame him.)
With an experienced coordinator such as Shurmur, Nagy can focus his energy on the quarterback and let Shurmur handle the group offensive meetings. Shurmur – who has coached quarterbacks, tight ends and offensive line in this scheme – and Castillo can game plan and install the running game while Nagy – who Ryan Pace said has a Master’s Degree in developing quarterbacks – can focus on his specialty.
The quarterback on whom Nagy will be focusing is still the most pressing issue facing the team this off-season. But if Mitch Trubisky has any chance of turning his career around, it’s going to be because Nagy can spend more time on him, knowing the rest of the offense is in good hands. And if Nagy needs to lean on his OC, Shurmur’s miraculous 2017 with Case Keenum in Minnesota is one of the great resume seasons for an assistant in league history.
Matt Nagy’s initial offensive staff was innovative, exciting. This new staff is sturdy, dependable. The Bears will be hoping the latter approach gets the unit on track in 2020.