Say this for new Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy: he knows how to win a press conference. That, and or the Bears’ public relations staff was on point for the introduction of Chicago’s new head coach on Tuesday afternoon. At any rate, the Bears clearly enjoyed their first (ultimately meaningless) victory of 2018. For a franchise that’s lost double digit games in four consecutive seasons, any positive public optics can’t be overlooked.
In a jam-packed but uncharacteristic, approximate 40 minutes (for the Bears), the 39-year-old Nagy dove in deep on any and all questions he could in his fresh opportunity as a first-time head coach.
Here are some quick thoughts as to what Nagy discussed while at the Halas Hall podium. The curtains are up.
On his personality
In the end, the kind of person Nagy is publicly won’t win the Bears football games, which is what he’ll ultimately be judged on. But it was striking to see how likable he was. How straightforward and honest he was in every answer. This wasn’t John Fox grunting into a microphone. This was every bit the energetic head coach prepared to shine in the limelight.
How many guys in the NFL realistically open their introductory press conference with “thank you’s” for seemingly everyone in their career from high school to the Arena League? How many get emotional and crack their voice while talking to their family? Nagy was genuine from the get-go.
What it boils down to is that Nagy didn’t seem like a typical hard-nosed football coach. He was more of the regular guy you could easily relate to and have a beer with, talking about all aspects of life. A modern coach and a refreshing ideal in Chicago, no doubt.
On Mitchell Trubisky
There’ll be a lot to unpack over the coming days, weeks, months, and years regarding this quarterback-head coach marriage. What was most evident on this initial occasion was how fond Nagy was of Trubisky, as everyone already started to gauge beforehand. Looking at the photo attached to this article and seeing how Nagy viewed Trubisky would’ve told you that prior, but he felt the need to elaborate.
There was an “unbelievable” (in his words) pre-draft visit with Trubisky that Nagy spoke highly of. There was saying it’s a tremendous “benefit” to work with Trubisky in his Bears’ head coaching gig. Then there’s mentioning that Trubisky was not at all involved in his interview process, which spoke more to his already established familiarity and adulation of the young quarterback’s ability.
Because, as general manager Ryan Pace later noted, Nagy actually pulled out his draft notes on Trubisky in his Bears’ interview. This was a man on a mission to coach the quarterback he’s wanted for quite awhile. Who wants to be “aggressive but calculated about it” with his offensive system where he also confirmed he will call the plays (which is well-advised).
Nagy didn’t need to be sold on his prized toy Trubisky. Trubisky didn’t need to make another impression: it was already firmly ingrained in the coach’s mind.
On head coach leadership and responsibility
I know many Bears fans want to move forward with the prospect of a bright head coach and focus on only the positive. Still, if you don’t learn from your mistakes as a football coach and own up to them: you’ll never get better.
Which is why it was so crucial for Nagy to own up to the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive collapse in their Wild Card playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans where they blew a 21-3 halftime lead. There was much speculation as to whether it was truly his responsibility and doing as Kansas City’s former offensive coordinator. Some had wondered whether his mentor Andy Reid took over play-calling at the half. Nagy would hear none of it.
“I called every play in the second half. That’s a learning situation for me,” said Nagy.
There were more obviously extenuating factors as to why Kansas City lost it’s playoff game. Defeat never falls at the feet of one man and one man alone in such historic failures. The entire 53-man roster and coaching staff could be seen as attaining reasonable blame. And Nagy understands that sentiment. Most anyone in the NFL does.
There are different standards for head coaches, though. Nagy’s the face of a franchise now. The person - next to Trubisky - that will represent the Bears most often publicly. He’ll be the first voice of reason to explain every pivotal moment in every game: win or lose. How he paints his players and their efforts in these respective situations will be one of the main reasons he is or isn’t able to win over his locker room and get them to play for him. Describing likely the most difficult experience of his short coaching career as something that was all on his shoulders is an idealistic launch.
In defeat, first, the head coach has to get better. Then, he has to take the bullets for his players. No one else should be in the crosshairs but him unless absolutely warranted for some motivation from his perspective. That’s how you win respect. That’s how you improve on the fly.
Before Nagy’s coached even one game at Soldier Field, he’s already passed his first test as Bears head coach with flying colors.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron, and contributor to The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.