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Matthew Nagy (/ˈnɛɡi/ NEH-ghee or /ˈnæɡi/ NAG-ee)[1][2][3][4] (born April 24, 1978) is an American football coach and former arena football quarterback who is currently the head coach for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL).

Matt Nagy
Chicago Bears
Position:Head coach
Personal information
Born: (1978-04-24) April 24, 1978 (age 41)
Dunellen, New Jersey
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:220 lb (100 kg)
Career information
High school:Manheim (PA) Central
College:Delaware
Undrafted:2001
Career history
As player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
As player:

As coach:

Career Arena statistics
TDINT:374–55
Passing yards:18,866
Passer rating:115.11
Head coaching record
Regular season:19–10 (.655)
Postseason:0–1 (.000)
Career:19–11 (.633)
Coaching stats at PFR
Player stats at ArenaFan.com

As a quarterback, he played college football for the University of Delaware from 1997 to 2000, where he set various school passing records. After failing to receive an NFL contract, he joined the Arena Football League (AFL), where he spent six seasons playing for the New York Dragons, Carolina Cobras, Georgia Force, and Columbus Destroyers.

After finishing his playing career, Nagy became an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, spending five seasons in various offensive positions under head coach Andy Reid. In 2013, when Reid joined the Kansas City Chiefs, Nagy followed him to become the quarterbacks coach, a role he served until he was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2016. Nagy was named the Bears' head coach in 2018, leading the team to their first NFC North championship and playoff appearance since 2010 in his first year.

Early life

Matthew Nagy was born on April 24, 1978 in Dunellen, New Jersey,[5] and lived in Piscataway as a toddler. His parents, Gail Stouch and Bill Nagy, divorced when he was three years old, after which Matt moved with Stouch from Piscataway to Manheim, Pennsylvania.[6] Growing up, Nagy participated in various sports like football, with teammates describing him as being very competitive; close friend and football teammate Eric Zeigler quipped he "couldn't imagine how someone cared that much, even it was about a basketball game on his driveway."[7]

He played high school football and basketball for Manheim Central High School in Pennsylvania, becoming the starting quarterback in the former during his junior year.[7][8] In 1994, he led the Barons to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) Class AAA playoffs, where they reached the semifinals against the Berwick Bulldogs. Entering the game, Manheim Central was on a 26-game winning streak, and was ranked No. 1 in Class AAA and No. 17 in USA Today's national rankings. While the Barons primarily used the veer running offense, head coach Mike Williams elected to switch to a pass-heavy system for the Berwick game to surprise the Bulldogs.[9] Nagy completed 20 of 28 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns in the semifinal, but threw an interception with 28 seconds remaining to seal a 37–30 loss.[10]

In 1995, Nagy passed for 1,928 yards and 21 touchdowns, and ran for 358 yards and six touchdowns. Manheim Central went 13–0 with over 5,500 total offensive yards and averaged 48.3 points per game in their final seven matches.[11] However, the Barons lost to Berwick in the semifinal for the second straight season, with Nagy once again being intercepted late in the game to clinch a 18–17 defeat.[12] He ended his senior year by being named Lancaster County Most Valuable Player.[8]

Williams considered Nagy "maybe my favorite of all time that I've coached"; although the two clashed over differences, Williams praised Nagy for his on-field confidence and personality.[7] Nagy left high school with a 26–2 record and over 3,500 career passing yards.[13]

College career

Despite his success in high school, Nagy did not receive many offers from NCAA Division I-A schools due to his slow 40-yard dash time of 4.7 seconds and small stature at 6 ft 1 12 in (1.87 m) and 190 lb (86 kg).[14] While schools like Syracuse and Wake Forest seriously considered him, they ultimately withdrew upon signing other quarterbacks.[15] Instead, he was offered scholarships from Division I-AA schools Delaware and New Hampshire,[16] gaining interest in the former while attending James Madison's game against them in 1995.[17] Although Rutgers head coach Terry Shea also expressed interest in recruiting him, Nagy verbally committed to Delaware.[14]

 
Delaware Stadium (pictured in 2014), where Nagy played college football for the Fightin' Blue Hens[18]

He played for the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens from 1997 to 2000. While the Blue Hens traditionally used a run-heavy Wing T offense under head coach Tubby Raymond, Nagy and more talented receivers led to an increase in passing; in 2000, Delaware's offense attempted at least 30 passes in eight of thirteen games.[15] Teammates and future coaching colleagues of Nagy's included Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and Bears assistant Brian Ginn,[19][20] the latter being the starting quarterback prior to Nagy.[16]

After redshirting his freshman year, Nagy served as Ginn's backup in 1997.[16] When Ginn hurt his shoulder in the first round of the I-AA playoffs, Nagy replaced him as starter.[8] Taking on Georgia Southern in the quarterfinal, Nagy completed 9 of 15 passes for 125 yards as the Blue Hens won 16–7.[21] In the semifinal against McNeese State, he threw two second-half touchdown passes but a last-second field goal pushed McNeese State to a 21–20 victory.[22]

Ginn and Nagy shared the starting job to open the 1998 campaign, but the former broke his leg in the third game of the year against West Chester and was unable to play for the remainder of the season.[8] Nagy went on to set 11 school single-season passing records, including yards in a season (2,916) and yards in a game (556 against Connecticut), as he ended the year with 20 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions and a 157.36 passer rating, the second-best in the nation.[16] He also helped wide receiver Eddie Conti break the NCAA record for receiving yards in a season with 1,712 on 98 receptions.[23]

In 1999, Nagy became the permanent starter ahead of Ginn.[24] Seven games into the season, Nagy suffered a high ankle sprain in a 26–19 loss to UMass, forcing him to miss time and snapping a 15-game starting streak.[25] With Ginn, the Blue Hens won the next two games. Nagy made a limited return the following week against Rhode Island, entering the game during the third quarter, where he failed to complete each of his four pass attempts before he was substituted for Mike Medley in the final period.[26] Ginn remained the starter for the season finale against Villanova. After Ginn was briefly knocked out of the game, Nagy filled in early in the fourth quarter and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Butter Pressley to put the Blue Hens up 45–24. However, Villanova scored 21 unanswered points to tie the game before winning 51–45 in overtime.[27]

In his senior year in 2000, Nagy and the Blue Hens won all but one game to end the regular season ranked second in Division I-AA,[15] while the offense averaged 42.6 points and 460 yards per game.[28] Delaware opened the 2000 I-AA playoffs by blowing out Portland State 49–14, during which Nagy threw for 263 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception; the yards elevated Nagy's season total to 2,981, surpassing the school record he set in 1998.[29] A 47–22 victory over Lehigh in the quarterfinal followed as Nagy recorded 266 passing yards, enabling him to the first quarterback in Delaware history to break 3,000 passing yards in a season, and two touchdowns.[28] The Blue Hens' season came to an end in the semifinal when they lost to Georgia Southern 27–18. Nagy completed 16 of 38 attempts for 189 yards and an interception in his final college game.[30] He ended the season with 3,436 passing yards, setting a school record that stood until Joe Flacco eclipsed the mark in 2007, and a program-best 29 touchdown throws.[23] For his campaign, Nagy was named third-team I-AA All-American, becoming Delaware's first All-American quarterback since Rich Gannon in 1986.[23]

Nagy concluded his college career with 8,214 passing yards, 58 touchdown passes, and a rating of 146.74, all of which were the best in team history.[23] As a student, he majored and earned a bachelor's degree in health and physical education (PE).[8] In June 2019, he returned to the university to speak at the school's commencement ceremony and received an honorary degree as a Doctor of Science.[18][1]

Professional career

"It's a unique game that I've really started to love. I think I've found my niche. It's perfect for me because it's not like I'm going to do a lot of running back there (in the passing pocket)."

Nagy on arena football in 2006[31]

After not being selected in the 2001 NFL Draft, Nagy attracted interest from the New York Giants as a free agent, though their acquisition of Jesse Palmer ended that possibility.[32] On September 11, he participated in a tryout with the Green Bay Packers, but was not signed.[33][34] Later auditions with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Jets — the third coming after beginning his arena football career in 2002 — and a phone conversation with Minnesota Vikings officials also failed to result in contracts.[35][32][36]

Talking about his efforts to make the NFL, Nagy said in 2018, "I was at a point where I'm out of college [and] I'm kind of figuring which direction I'm going to go. Am I going to get a chance in the NFL? Am I going to use my degree and become a teacher? Am I going to try a lower-level league in the football world?"[33]

New York Dragons

Without any opportunities in the NFL, Nagy tried out for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. There, he caught the eye of head coach John Gregory,[37] who likened him to his former Iowa Barnstormers star and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner as the two were comparable in size, possessed the ability to throw while running, and shared similar leadership qualities.[38] Gregory was also close with Raymond and formerly ran the Wing T offense, further supporting his decision to sign Nagy. The Dragons offered him a three-year contract, though agent Art Weiss opted for a two-year deal.[36]

Nagy made his AFL debut in the 2002 season opener versus the Los Angeles Avengers when he replaced a struggling Danny Ragsdale in the fourth quarter;[39] he completed three of eight passes for 68 yards and a touchdown to Steve Papin as New York lost 43–25.[40] He was later named the starter for the Buffalo Destroyers game, where he was 27-of-37 for 300 yards and seven touchdowns en route to a Dragons 69–54 win.[41] In the Detroit Fury match, Nagy was substituted out for Danny Kanell, who threw three touchdowns to lead the Dragons to a 44–37 win and subsequently became the starter.[42] In June, Kanell's struggles against the Orlando Predators prompted Nagy to return to action in the fourth quarter, where he threw a 12-yard touchdown to Jason Maxwell for his lone score in the 52–33 loss.[43][44] Aaron Garcia, who was New York's regular starting quarterback until he signed with the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason, returned to the team for the remainder of the 2002 season.[43] Nagy started six games in his rookie year, ending with 1,242 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, and five interceptions.[45]

During the offseason, he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a flag football game in Lancaster, Pennsylvania that prevented him from playing the 2003 season.[37] While rehabilitating his leg alongside trainer Steve Saunders,[46] he also spent the year receiving his real estate license and working as a substitute PE teacher.[37] When not on the Dragons' active roster, Nagy was the team's color commentator for radio broadcasts.[47]

Carolina Cobras

On November 13, 2003, Nagy was traded to the Carolina Cobras in exchange for lineman Tim McGill.[48] The Cobras, who went 0–16 in 2003, hired Gregory as offensive coordinator for the 2004 season.[38] In the first game of the year against the Dallas Desperados, Nagy recorded 282 passing yards and seven total touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) as Carolina won 67–41 and snapped a 17-game losing streak.[49] The opening victory was followed by a 54–53 win over the Columbus Destroyers when Nagy threw the game-winning touchdown to Damien Groce as time expired.[50] However, the Cobras lost the next four games and head coach Ed Khayat was fired, leading to Gregory's promotion. In the first game with Gregory as interim head coach, taking on the defending ArenaBowl champion Tampa Bay Storm, Carolina scored 24 unanswered points in the third quarter and Nagy had four touchdown passes as the Cobras won 54–43; it was the Cobras' first home win since 2002.[51]

After Carolina dropped to 3–7, including winning only one of their last eight games, Gregory was replaced by defensive coordinator Ron Selesky,[52] while Rickey Foggie became the starting quarterback for the rest of the season.[53] Carolina ended the season 6–10, and Nagy completed 237 of 348 passes for 2,371 yards, 47 touchdowns, and six interceptions in ten starts.[54] At the time of his benching, Nagy's 2,371 passing yards ranked sixth in the league.[55]

Georgia Force

After becoming a free agent, Nagy visited the Philadelphia Soul with the hope of playing near home until they signed Tony Graziani. The Colorado Crush also offered him a contract, but he instead signed a one-year deal with the Georgia Force on October 27, 2004.[55][56] Although he was the backup to newly-signed Jim Kubiak, Nagy felt Kubiak's injury history – he had missed much of the 2003 season with a herniated disc – gave him the best chance to play. He also credited Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who had recently purchased the Force, for influencing his decision as the Force could "almost be like a minor-league team for the Falcons. [...] It could be an opportunity for me to latch on with the Falcons."[55]

Kubiak began the 2005 season as the starter and led the Force to a 4–1 start before suffering a season-ending left knee injury against the Austin Wranglers. Upon filling in, Nagy completed ten consecutive throws to open his stint, with the first being a six-yard touchdown to Troy Bergeron, as the Force won 66–63; he ended the game with 247 passing yards and seven touchdowns to be named Offensive Player of the Game.[57] Head coach Doug Plank described Nagy's relief duty as "probably the single biggest event for our team. To have a setback of that magnitude — losing your quarterback — and then having Matt come in and perform the way he did, that started the momentum for the remainder of the season."[58] With Nagy starting the next 12 games, the Force went 11–5 in the regular season.[59]

To open the 2005 playoffs, Nagy threw five touchdowns in a 62–49 victory over the Storm.[60] He continued his postseason success as he had seven touchdown throws and a rushing score in the 60–58 triumph over the Predators to advance to ArenaBowl XIX.[61] In the ArenaBowl against the Crush, Nagy completed 24 of 36 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns along with a rushing touchdown, but Colorado's Clay Rush made a 20-yard field goal as time ran out to win 51–48.[59][62] Nagy finished the regular season converting 260 of 388 passes for 3,003 yards, 66 touchdowns, and ten interceptions,[59] and was named second-team All-Arena.[37]

In October prior to the 2006 season, Nagy convinced former Delaware teammate Jamin Elliott to join the Force.[31] That year, Georgia regressed to an 8–8 regular season record as the team was plagued by disputes within the organization due to the disappointing campaign.[63] When the AFL's trade deadline neared, rumors surfaced that Nagy would be traded to the Philadelphia Soul for Tony Graziani, while the Las Vegas Gladiators contacted the Force for his services.[32][63] Despite his club's struggles, Nagy broke franchise single-season records in completions and attempts (372 for 527), passing yards (4,265), and touchdowns (85), and led the league in passer rating (125.5).[32] The Force qualified for the playoffs and played the Dragons in the first round, where Nagy completed 28 of 39 of this throws for 362 yards and ten total touchdowns, nine of which came by passing, as Georgia won 72–69.[64] A 62–27 second-round defeat courtesy of the Dallas Desperados knocked the Force out of the playoffs; although Nagy was 21 for 35 with 206 passing yards and four touchdowns, he was also intercepted twice.[65]

On August 19, 2006, Nagy was traded to the Destroyers for lineman Mike Sutton in what the former explained was "the coaches in Georgia [wanting] to go in a different direction".[63][66] Incidentally, Kubiak was instrumental in the decision to trade Nagy, having ended his playing career after 2005 to become the Force's Director of Player Personnel.[67] Nagy ended his two-year tenure in Georgia as the team's record holder in total passing yards (7,268), completions (632), and touchdowns (151).[68]

Columbus Destroyers

The 2007 Destroyers opened the season 6–4 before losing five consecutive games.[69] Needing a win over the Dragons to clinch the National Conference's final playoff spot,[70] Nagy recorded 256 passing yards and seven touchdowns to lead Columbus to a 74–43 victory and a playoff berth at 7–9.[71] In the regular season, he threw for 3,561 yards and 75 touchdowns.[72] In weeks fifteen and sixteen, he also attempted two extra point conversions, both of which failed: after throwing a touchdown against the Kansas City Brigade to put the Destroyers up 47–35 with 30 seconds left, Nagy missed the ensuing kick; against Philadelphia, with Columbus leading 53–41 early in the fourth quarter, he tried a drop kick to no success.[73][74]

The Destroyers played the Storm in the opening round; after throwing for five touchdowns, Nagy scored the go-ahead touchdown run with seven seconds remaining in the game. Tampa Bay's Seth Marler missed the game-winning field goal as time expired to secure the 56–55 triumph. He was named Offensive Player of the Game for his performance.[75] In the second round, they faced the 15–1 Desperados in Dallas, the first team in league history to win 15 games in the regular season and riding a 12-game home win streak.[76] After trailing 35–21 during the second quarter, the Destroyers scored 31 of the game's next 34 points, while Nagy was 20 for 32 for 285 yards and six touchdowns (four passing, two rushing) as Columbus upset Dallas 66–59 to make their maiden Conference Championship appearance.[77] Nagy took on the 14–2 Force for the Conference Championship; against his former team and in what he called "his favorite game",[37] he completed 23 of 34 passes for 209 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception, while he scored on each of his two carries as the Destroyers won 66–56.[78]

Entering ArenaBowl XXI against the San Jose SaberCats, the Destroyers had the opportunity to become the second straight 7–9 team to win the championship after the Chicago Rush in ArenaBowl XX. In three playoff games, the Columbus offense averaged 63 points, compared to 50.1 during the regular season, while Nagy had 14 touchdown passes against two interceptions.[79][80] However, the Destroyers fell greatly below their postseason average, scoring 33 points in a 53–33 loss. Nagy completed 24 of 43 passes for 203 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.[79] On August 8, he signed a two-year extension with the team.[68]

For the 2008 season, head coach Doug Kay elected to have Nagy play and serve as the de facto offensive coordinator, but the Destroyers struggled mightily as they opened the year 1–4.[81] Before the sixth game against Tampa Bay, Lary Kuharich was hired as offensive coordinator; under Kuharich, Columbus scored on their opening possession for the first time that season and eventually won 51–49 with Nagy's six-touchdown day.[82] The Destroyers finished the year 3–13, tied for the worst record in the league, and Kay was fired.[81] Nagy completed a total of 358 passes (of 576 attempts) for 4,440 yards, 74 touchdowns, and eight interceptions.[83]

The AFL folded in late 2008 due to the Great Recession, ending Nagy's playing career.[46] In six seasons, he recorded over 18,000 passing yards, 374 touchdowns throws, 55 interceptions, and 22 rushing touchdowns.[47]

Statistics

Year Team Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Pct Yds TD Int Rtg Att Yds TD
2002 New York 105 178 59 1,242 27 5 106.5 5 4 0
2004 Carolina 237 348 68.1 2,371 47 6 113.8 7 8 3
2005 Georgia 260 378 68.8 3,003 66 10 121 5 14 2
2006 Georgia 372 527 70.6 4,265 85 11 125.5 18 −1 5
2007 Columbus 339 545 62.2 3,545 75 15 103.9 16 14 6
2008 Columbus 358 576 62.2 4,440 74 8 112.33 16 24 6
Career 1,671 2,552 65.5 18,866 374 55 115.11 67 63 22

Stats from ArenaFan:[47]

Coaching career

Early coaching

In 2001, Nagy returned to Manheim Central High School as quarterbacks coach. The following year, he was invited to serve the same position at Cedar Crest High School in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where his wife, Stacey, was the girls' track coach.[84] In addition to working with the varsity team, Nagy was also the junior varsity football team's head coach. He worked at Cedar Crest until 2003.[85]

After interning with the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2008 NFL offseason, Nagy joined Palmyra Area High School in Palmyra, Pennsylvania as offensive coordinator.[86] The Cougars went 5–5 in his first season.[87] He stayed with the team through 2009, during which they recorded a 4–6 record, before departing for a full-time job in the NFL.[88][89]

NFL assistant

In 2009, Veach invited Nagy to return to Philadelphia and intern for the Eagles again.[46] On August 10, three days before their preseason game against the New England Patriots, backup quarterback Kevin Kolb suffered a knee injury; to avoid putting stress on starter Donovan McNabb and third-string A. J. Feeley, the Eagles attempted to sign Nagy as a player. Head coach Andy Reid argued that although Nagy was a coach, he was not being paid for the role and could therefore play. The NFL initially allowed the deal and Nagy practiced the next day, but the league voided it shortly after, officially saying he was still under contract with the AFL.[90] Furthermore, teams were not allowed to hide potential players in coaching positions.[91] Adam DiMichele was eventually signed to fill the open slot.[90] The following year, Nagy was hired for a full-time job with the Eagles as an assistant to Reid, a position that Nagy joked made him the "assistant to the assistant."[46] With the Eagles, Nagy moved through the coaching ranks by following quality control coach Doug Pederson, taking his role when Pederson became the quarterbacks coach in 2011.[92]

After a 4–12 campaign in 2012, Reid was fired by the Eagles and moved to the Kansas City Chiefs,[93] bringing Pederson and Nagy with him as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, respectively.[92] In 2016, Pederson went back to the Eagles to become their head coach, and Nagy was promoted to co-offensive coordinator alongside spread game analyst Brad Childress; during games, Childress worked from a stadium skybox and Nagy on the sidelines.[94] Although Reid called the plays, Nagy directly communicated with the quarterback.[95]

Before the 2017 season, the New York Jets attempted to hire Nagy as offensive coordinator, but the move was blocked by the Chiefs; Jets head coach Todd Bowles is a family friend of the Nagys, having played for Nagy's father in high school.[96] When Childress was promoted to assistant head coach, Nagy became the lone offensive coordinator.[95] In December, with the Chiefs at 6–5 after a 5–0 start to the season, Reid ceded play-calling duties to Nagy.[97] Under Nagy, the Chiefs finished the regular season 4–1 and averaged 28.6 points during the stretch.[98] Kansas City's offense, which ranked 20th in 2016, was the fifth-best unit in 2017; quarterback Alex Smith led the NFL in passer rating with 104.7 as he threw for a career-best 26 touchdown passes and 4,042 passing yards.[99] In the Wild Card Round, the Chiefs were defeated by the Tennessee Titans after the Titans erased a 21–3 deficit in the second half to win 22–21; amid rumors that Reid was calling plays again, Nagy reaffirmed he was doing so and called the game a "failure in my book."[100][101]

Chicago Bears

After 2017 seasons that saw them go 5–11 and 4–12, the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts fired head coaches John Fox and Chuck Pagano, respectively.[102][103] In the searches for their replacements, the two teams interviewed Nagy on January 7, 2018, a day after the Chiefs' Wild Card loss;[104] Nagy was one of six candidates for the Bears' job, while he and four others were contacted by the Colts.[105][106] The following day, the Bears formally hired him to become the 16th head coach in team history.[107] Reid gave his support for Nagy and called him the "best head-coaching candidate he's ever had."[108] Nagy is the first Delaware alumnus to become an NFL head coach.[18]

In assembling his staff, Nagy convinced defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who led a top-ten-ranked Bears defense in 2017 and had also interviewed for the team's head coaching job, and his assistants to stay.[109] Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone was the lone Fox offensive assistant to remain in Chicago.[110] To fill the other openings, Nagy hired coaches with previous ties to him, including Childress as a senior offensive consultant through the 2018 offseason and training camp,[111][112] former Chiefs assistant special teams coordinator Brock Olivo in the same position,[113] Ginn and Eagles colleague Bill Shuey as quality control coaches,[20] and ex-Dragons teammate Mike Furrey as wide receivers coach.[114]

In Nagy's first season as head coach, the Bears won the NFC North for the first time since 2010.[115] After defeating the Green Bay Packers on December 16 to improve to 10–4, he became the second Bears rookie head coach in team history to win ten games, joining George Halas in 1920.[116] He ended the regular season with two more wins, finishing his first year as a head coach with a 12–4 record; he and Paddy Driscoll (1956) are the only coaches in Bears history to have a winning record and qualify for the playoffs in their debut seasons.[117] However, the Bears were defeated by Pederson and the Eagles in the Wild Card Round 16–15 after the game-winning field goal was blocked and hit the crossbar twice.[118][119] In January 2019, Nagy received Coach of the Year honors from the Pro Football Writers Association and Associated Press.[120][121] He was the first Bears coach to be given the AP award since Lovie Smith in 2005 and the fifth in team history.[122]

After the 2018 season, Fangio departed the Bears to become the Denver Broncos head coach; to replace him, Nagy hired Pagano as defensive coordinator.[123] Nagy also reunited with Childress, who rejoined the Bears as a senior offensive assistant,[112] and Mark DeLeone, who was the Chiefs' inside linebackers coach during Nagy's tenure and would serve the same position in Chicago.[124]

Coaching style

Strategy

Upon his hiring as Bears head coach, Chicago general manager Ryan Pace called Nagy "highly intelligent" and had a "very creative, outside-the-box thought process".[125] He operates a variation of the West Coast offense inspired by Reid, completing short, quick passes to receivers and maintaining possession of the football by throwing instead of running;[126] the quarterback is also permitted to attempt deeper throws, even if they are not completed, to force the defense to cover a wider range of the field.[127] Nagy considers himself an aggressive coach, a doctrine that has occasionally drawn criticism for being "too cute".[128]

Nagy's offense heavily incorporates the run-pass option (RPO), which allows the quarterback to analyze the defense as a play begins and make decisions based on what he sees, along with player movement before the snap and misdirection feints to distract the defense.[129][130] To better run the RPO, Nagy hired former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator in 2018; despite Helfrich's lack of NFL coaching experience at the time, he ran a fast-paced read-option offense at Oregon, a system that would otherwise not work in the NFL as defensive players are too fast but features enough nuances to be included in Nagy's offense.[129] During Nagy's first year as Bears head coach, 19.2 percent of the team's total play calls was an RPO, the second most in the league behind Reid's Chiefs; the previous year under John Fox, only 2.7 percent of plays were RPOs (ranked 26th).[131] Wide receiver routes are derived from the air raid offense.[132]

For running plays, the offensive line uses a gap blocking scheme in which the line creates one lane for the running back to enter, though a zone blocking scheme, which lets the back decide his own lane based on the line's motions, was also implemented during the 2018 season.[133] Aspects of his offense are also inspired by his playing career; certain player archetypes and West Coast plays such as the bubble screen and hot read are based in arena football strategy, while his preference to throw deep to stretch the defense is influenced by the indoor sport's tendency to do the same.[37] In Kansas City, he devised running plays that relied on misdirection and jet sweeps, which were inspired by the Wing T at Delaware.[134]

Nagy frequently uses trick plays, designed with assistance from his players and given nicknames like "Willy Wonka" and "Oompa Loompa", that feature unorthodox formations and players like defenders on offense. One such play, dubbed "Santa's Sleigh" and used against the Los Angeles Rams in 2018, has exclusively linemen as the five eligible receivers (including four defensive linemen); in the Rams game, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky faked a hand-off to defensive tackle Akiem Hicks posing as a running back before throwing to offensive lineman Bradley Sowell for the touchdown. Nagy draws inspiration for the plays from his career in arena football, where players often played both offense and defense and tackles are eligible receivers.[135] As traditional offensive play-calling can be easily adapted and adjusted for accordingly by defenses, Nagy explained the gadget plays can confuse them and allow him to "stay one step ahead of these defensive coordinators."[136] During his tenure as Bears coach, he has also called plays that are tributes to the team's history; examples include "Papa Bear Left", which uses the T formation made famous by team founder and longtime head coach George "Papa Bear" Halas during the 1930s and 1940s,[137] and "Freezer Left", in which a defensive tackle is given the football on a run up the middle in a manner similar to William "The Refrigerator" Perry, a defensive lineman who occasionally played fullback for the Bears in the 1980s.[138]

Personnel-wise, he prefers players who can be utilized in multiple offensive roles. For example, he fields running backs capable of running and catching, including lining up at wide receiver.[139] With this versatility, players can exploit certain deficiencies in the defense, such as defeating a smaller defender with his size and outmatching larger defenders with his speed.[140] Unlike offenses that feature a top pass catcher, Nagy-led receiving success is shared between multiple players, a strategy that Sports Illustrated's Kalyn Kahler wrote is "like a football Hydra"; during Nagy's two seasons as the Chiefs' offensive coordinator, Tyreek Hill was their top receiver but tight end Travis Kelce led the team in multiple receiving categories, while wide receiver Allen Robinson topped the 2018 Bears in receiving yards yet running back Tarik Cohen had the most receptions.[128][141]

As an offensive coach, Nagy relinquishes control of the defense to his defensive coordinator, as he did with Vic Fangio in 2018 and Chuck Pagano in 2019.[142][143]

Team culture

Nagy has received praise from players and media for his positive attitude and effect on team morale.[144] In 2019, NBC Sports Chicago's JJ Stankevitz divided Nagy into two personalities: "Nagy the leader, and Nagy the offensive mind" with the former being "unquestioned."[145]

He models his philosophy after Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon's phrase "Be You", which promotes individualism by urging players and coaches to enjoy the sport and freely express themselves instead of worry about the NFL's strict and business-like nature;[146] the line also appears on Nagy's playbook in bold letters.[128] "What can happen, as a player, is you think you need to maybe try a little harder, you may have to act a little different — don't do that," Nagy said in May 2018. "Just be yourself. Do what got you here. As coaches, don't change. If you have a certain style of teaching, then teach that way. Don't change because now you're in the NFL."[147]

Following victories in 2018, with inspiration from Maddon, Nagy created a post-game locker room celebration called "Club Dub" in which the team participates in a dance party with a disco ball, lights, and music; "dub" is a slang term for "win".[148] He explained Club Dub was organized as a means to cherish each win considering the difficulty in finding success.[149][150] During the 2019 season, he established the Sweep the Sheds Award, consisting of a metal broom and bear head, which is given to an unsung Bears player after every victory; "Sweep the Sheds" is a phrase from the James Kerr book Legacy following the New Zealand national rugby union team whose players clean their locker room following games as an act of humility.[151][152]

Personal life

Nagy married his high school sweetheart Stacey in 2002.[37] The two have four sons.[153] Before joining the Arena Football League, he was a teacher in the Manheim Central School District.[36] After his playing career ended, Nagy worked at home construction company Keystone Custom Homes, receiving the position after Steve Saunders introduced him to Keystone executive Larry Wisdom. With Wisdom's blessing, he left the business when he joined the Eagles full-time.[46]

In spite of his parents' divorce, Nagy remained close with both.[37] His father Bill is a former defensive line coach for New Jersey high schools, winning a state championship with Elizabeth High School in 1980. After his coaching career, he was a businessman for various ventures before becoming a teacher in 2009, teaching at schools in the areas where Matt was coaching at the time.[154]

Coaching statistics

Coaching tree

NFL head coaches under whom Nagy has served:

Assistant coaches under Nagy who have become NFL head coaches:

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CHI 2018 12 4 0 .750 1st in NFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Philadelphia Eagles in NFC Wild Card Game
CHI 2019 7 6 0 .538 TBD
Total 19 10 0 .655 0 1 .000

References

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External links