Okay, so, the Bears did more than a little housekeeping, the offensive side of the Bears coaching staff has been almost completely rebuilt.
Now the question Bears Nation wants answered: Did Matt Nagy get this right or has he failed to address the real issues that caused his offense to take a huge step backwards in 2019?
Let’s start here: Nagy undertook this reconstruction with a handicap of his own design. None of the hottest young offensive minds focused on paving their way to an NFL head coaching job were going to prioritize a coordinator position in which they would have no play-calling responsibilities and a head coach who appears to micromanage his offense while allowing his defensive coaches to roam seemingly unmonitored.
That’s not to say it’s unheard of, in fact head coaches calling their own plays on offense or protections on defense is actually quite common around the league.
But if you’re Pat Shurmur, for example, or maybe Jason Garrett, are you going to come to Chicago to work with limited freedom and responsibility and get little of the credit if you succeed, and most of the blame if you don’t, or are you taking that job in Denver where Vic Fangio is going to give you total control of the offense?
Once that is understood, based on their resumes and past experiences, the coaches assembled by Nagy appears to be quality if not a blockbuster group.
In spite of some fans’ angst, the fact that Bill Lazor, Juan Castillo and Clancy Barone were all out of the league on one-year hiatus last year is meaningless.
The tone we’re getting from haters and the uninformed that the Bears couldn’t even hire coaches who were good enough to be in the league last season is at best uninformed.
It is not at all unusual for very good football coaches to be out of the league for a season either by choice, or more often because of the timing of them leaving their last job and the hiring cycle at the time.
For example, I don’t know this to be true but it is possible that had John DeFilippo and the Jaguars agreed to part ways a few days earlier, it is possible he would have been the Bears' offensive coordinator, and I’m not sure Lazor would be here at all.
Just a guess, but one that I hope clarifies the point.
Lazor is definitely a coach worth having, and at this stage of his career he is less likely than most to chafe at the level to which his job will be a collaborative effort with Nagy.
Coaches cannot be held responsible for the talent they are given to work with and so while Lazor doesn’t have a Brady, Wilson or Mahomes on his roster, he has coached the best seasons of the careers of Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill and Andy Dalton.
While DeFilippo has never been given a future Hall of Famer to work with either, Kirk Cousins had an outstanding season under his tutelage in Minnesota in 2018 and he wasn’t fired because the Vikings couldn’t run the ball, he got the gate because Mike Zimmer wanted to run it 75 percent of the time.
It’s also hard to imagine anyone doing more with sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew than DeFilippo did this past season.
Castillo is a known quantity and quality having coached some of the better O-lines in the league over 25 seasons, and while Barone has had less than All Pro talent at tight end for most of his career, he did play a significant role in turning basketball player Antonio Gates into a future Hall of Famer in San Diego.
Only Nagy really knows to what degree Mark Helfrich, Harry Hiestand and Kevin Gilbride failed here on their own accounts, and how much was due to the way he worked with them and the room he gave them to succeed.
Now he has a new hand-picked group and the chance to fix any of his own mistakes —assuming they were part of the problem.
The coaching talent is here to get the job done; whether the wisdom is remains to be seen.
This article originally ran on profootballweekly.com.
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