R & B’s Offseason Update: January

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R & B’s Offseason Update: January

Ryan Durburg

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This column is co-written by Ryan Durburg and Bobby Winebrenner. 

One month into the offseason, the Chicgao Bears have hit the ground running. To start off the new year, the Bears fired head coach John Fox after three seasons after a combined record 14-34. Less than a week later, former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy was named Head Coach. Nagy has a pretty reputable resume for his work in the NFL. He has been under the wing of longtime Head Coach Andy Reid his entire career; he served as an intern and a coaches assistant for the Eagles in the Reid era, as well as a quarterbacks coach and his most recent position of Offensive Coordinator for Chiefs during Reid’s tenure in Kansas City. Nagy took over play calling halfway through the season for an electric Kansas City offense, which ranked 5th overall among NFL teams. The 39-year-old offensive wiz has been groomed by Reid to do great things as a Head Coach in the NFL. The new wave of young head coaches in the NFL has intrigued GM Ryan Pace with the hire of Matt Nagy. We saw a huge turnaround season for the Los Angeles Rams after the hiring of 31-year-old Sean McVay, turning them into a playoff caliber team after being a joke of an organization for years. The Bears are taking a similar step with the hiring of Nagy. Instead of waiting on a Josh McDaniels or a Pat Schurmer, the Bears jumped right in for an unfamiliar, yet promising face. An offensive-minded Andy Reid prodigy is what we need to fix a broken team.

Grade: A-

 

The Coordinators

Mark Helfrich – Offensive Coordinator

General manager Ryan Pace and newly minted head coach Matt Nagy made a very creative and intriguing hire with their first offensive guru. Coach Mark Helfrich checks nearly all of the boxes Bears personnel and fans were looking for. Helfrich previously held the title of Head Coach in 2016 at the University of Oregon, leading the Ducks to a national title appearance in 2014 with Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky presents some similarities to former Oregon Duck and now Titans QB, Mariota, something Bears fans are eager to see. Helfrich can develop the second-year athletic QB into a more trusted source under center. Finding a coach that could groom the most important position in football was key to Pace, and both Nagy and Helfrich fit the build here. The new offensive coordinator has served as a Quarterback’s Coach at numerous Division 1 universities and has been quoted to admire Trubisky’s game. Some are worried about this hire due to the fact that Helfrich didn’t coach last year and was fired after going 4-8 in 2016, aside from the fact that he doesn’t have any NFL experience. However, Helfrich’s offenses at Oregon were always very explosive and they even scored at least 20 points in every game of his last (“worst”) season as head coach. Also, Nagy will be calling the offensive plays, so this hire isn’t quite as important. But the fact that Helfrich comes in from an electric offense and will surely bring a creative wrinkle to the fold that Bears fans haven’t seen in quite some time is exciting.

Grade: B+

 

Vic Fangio – Defensive Coordinator

Fangio returns to the windy city following his contract expiring after last season. This hire is a big one for the Monsters of the Midway; it shows continuity from a defense that has finished in the top half of the league the last three seasons. Fangio helped coached the defense for the Harbaugh brothers in Baltimore and San Francisco before joining former coach John Fox’s staff as DC in 2015. Before Fangio and Fox, the Bears defense was rated 30th in the league in total defense. They quickly improved to the top half in 2015, and finished 10th in total defense this past season. The Chicago Bears currently have many talented youngsters in Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos, and Kyle Fuller, all of whom had breakout seasons this year. It’s important to keep the same system in place and groom these skillful novices. Many were unsure if Fangio would resign with the Bears. He pursued a head coaching gig and also interviewed with a few other teams. Thankfully, Fangio ultimately decided to return to Chicago, leaving many fans ecstatic. Coach Vic will essentially be the “defensive coach” with Nagy as the offensive one.

Grade: A

Look out in February for our next report as we cover the interesting free agency and some draft previews.