By Chris Emma–
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (670 The Score) — With the vision of establishing a winning culture and developing their young franchise quarterback, the Bears embarked on a coaching search last month with the hope of finding the next Sean McVay.
The Bears interviewed six candidates — four from the offensive side of the football — and ultimately hired Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, who, like McVay, established a great rapport with his quarterbacks and operated a cutting-edge offense before getting the chance as a head coach.
McVay, who was named AP Coach of the Year in his first season leading the Rams, recently reached out to Nagy and established a connection there. He sees a lot of similar traits between himself and the 39-year-old Nagy, whom he holds in high regard.
“He’s a great coach,” the 32-year-old McVay said of Nagy. “Just watching his offense, especially the way he called those last six games, and then the offenses he’s been a part of in Kansas City, really impressive. I know some people on that Chicago staff that have been really impressed with just what he’s done already getting into that building. Very excited for coach Nagy.”
Despite his limited experience, McVay was hired at the age of 30 as the youngest coach in NFL history. He was the Redskins’ assistant tight ends coach in 2010 and led that group beginning in 2011. In 2014, McVay became the team’s offensive coordinator, spending three years establishing Kirk Cousins as a starting quarterback.
Ultimately, the Rams were drawn to McVay because of his extensive plans to develop young quarterback Jared Goff, the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Goff was named Most Improved Player by the Professional Football Writers Association after his first season with McVay.
The Bears are hoping that Nagy can develop Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, into a franchise quarterback like the Rams seem to have.
“Jared’s always had a lot of confidence,” McVay said. “I know the rookie year didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. But when you watch the way he responded, you never sensed he lost any confidence. He stayed the course, he got around some people where he could worry about what can (he) control, and that’s the fundamentals, the techniques of the position, consistently delivering the ball with accuracy, and then just being himself.
“You knew why he was a No. 1 overall pick. I think you see a lot of the same things in Mitchell, why (observers are) excited about the future with him.”
In 2017, the Rams won the NFC West and finished 11-5, a year after going 4-12 and firing veteran coach Jeff Fisher. They had talented pieces on the roster under Fisher’s watch but couldn’t put it all together, and the trouble started at the quarterback position with Goff.
A major part of the success McVay enjoyed with the Rams last season came thanks to a strong coaching staff he built upon being hired. McVay looked to balance out his deficiencies as a young coach with the right supporting cast, including the respected Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. He also retained John Fassel as special teams coordinator, overseeing the league’s best unit.
Nagy constructed a well-rounded coaching staff that included retaining Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator, hiring former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator and tabbing Chris Tabor to lead the special teams. He also landed an important hire in Harry Hiestand as offensive line coach.
On several occasions, Nagy has stated that he will be leaning on the experience of his assistants.
“It’s all about your coaching staff to start out,” McVay said. “We were able to build a mix of good veteran leadership and also some younger coaches that I’ve gotten exposure to that are going to get an opportunity to run their own rooms and things like that. I think we had a good balance of veteran leadership with also some young (players) that are excited about positively pushing each other. That’s what we got on our coaching staff, and I’m sure (Nagy) will do the same thing.”
The rookie season for McVay will be heralded for some time because his hiring by the Rams was considered surprising. It was the first head coaching interview he had received, and the natural thought was that he couldn’t handle that role at such a young age.
Instead, McVay led the Rams to new heights during his first year on the job and helped Goff establish himself with the potential hoped. The team eventually bowed out during the wild-card round and ended its revival with the disappointment that accompanies so many teams’ seasons.
While McVay was crowned as the game’s best coach this past season, he remained grounded the whole time. It’s why he believes in Nagy’s future with the Bears.
“You learn that you don’t know everything,” McVay said. “It’s always a consistent approach of trying to get better, listening and learning from everybody else, and then that will help you become a better leader. It’s all about the people, and we got great people around.”