When was the last time the Chicago Bears had an innovator calling plays on the offensive side of the ball?
The last two years Dowell Loggains was the offensive coordinator, but he was handicapped by head coach John Fox’s conservative game plans. The Bears’ offense was a bit more wide open under Loggains in 2016, but nothing he did was innovative. Adam Gase was John Fox’s first offensive coordinator, and he brought an impressive resume, but Fox-Ball slowed him down as well in 2015.
Marc Trestman was the head coach and play caller from 2013 to 2014 and even though the Bears had some offensive success during his first season, defenses caught on to him his second year. Trestman was running the same West Coast offense he grew up on and he wasn’t able to adjust.
Pre-Trestman was Lovie Smith and his rotating band of coordinators. Mike Tice in 2012 didn’t break any new offensive ground. Mike Martz was the ringleader of the Greatest Show On Turf Rams’ teams, but his two years with the Bears (2010 to 2011) exposed his stubbornness, and he hasn’t been in the NFL since. Before that was five years of Ron Turner (2005-2009), and while the Bears went to a Super Bowl with Turner’s West Coast offense, were his offenses really on the cutting edge?
Terry Shea called plays in 2004 and I think we’d all like to forget that season of offensive ineptitude.
Dick Jauron gave us three years of John Shoop (2001 to 2003) and countless jokes about the bubble screen. Gary Crowton called plays for Jauron’s first two years (1999 to 2000) and he never received another NFL gig. Matt Cavanaugh (1997 to 1998) was Dave Wannstedt’s offensive coordinator for two years after the first Ron Turner stint (1993 to 1996) in Chicago under Wannstedt.
And now we’re all the way back to the Mike Ditka era.
At this point I can’t bear to keep researching Chicago offenses, so I’ll assume the last offensive innovator hired by the Bears thrilled the nation with his T-Formation.
It took me a long time to get around to the No. 2 Most Important Bear of 2018, but we finally made it to new head coach Matt Nagy.
He may be unproven as a play caller, but Nagy brings an impressive offensive resume with him to Chicago. He comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, with their roots firmly in the West Coast offense, but Reid has always thought outside the box. He steals ideas from other coaches, including those in the college ranks. Reid’s not too proud to keep the offense all to himself as his think-tank of coaches are always adding their input to schemes, plays, and game plans on their “Beautiful Mind Board.”
Nagy is bringing that same think-tank mentality to the Bears.
- Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich has a spread offense background from his uptempo days with the Oregon Ducks, but he also worked in the Air Coryell with Dirk Koetter.
- Running backs coach Charles London has a background in the Erhardt-Perkins offense.
- Tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride is a coach’s son who has spent time in both a West Coast and Erhardt-Perkins scheme. His dad was also involved in the Run and Shoot back in the day.
- Holdover Dave Ragone, the quarterback coach, spent a year working under offensive guru Sean McVay in 2015.
- Wide receivers coach Mike Furrey is another with a college coaching background, but as an NFL player he spent time in the Air Coryell, Erhardt-Perkins and West Coast offenses.
- Nagy’s good friend, and another Reid disciple, Brad Childress, is on board as a consultant to help with the installation of his scheme.
- He also brought offensive line coaching legend Harry Hiestand back to Chicago.
The Bears offense is in good hands, but it’ll be up to Nagy to get everyone on the same page and make quarterback Mitchell Trubisky the player that general manager Ryan Pace envisions him to be. If Nagy can’t get Trubisky to the next level, and if he can’t piece this offensive puzzle together, the Bears will have to start another rebuild and it will likely be without Pace.
The 2018 season is about Trubisky’s development, and at the center of that development is the 40-year-old Nagy. If he gets his second-year quarterback to become a franchise player, the Bears will be relevant for a long time.
The most important relationship in sports is the one between a head coach and starting quarterback. So far the Nagy-Trubisky marriage seems like a perfect match that needs to pay off immediately.