Manheim Central High School grad Matt Nagy takes on challenge of coaching Chicago Bears
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — As the interview unfolded, Matt Nagy could sense the Chicago Bears were a fit for him.
The former star quarterback at Manheim Central High School saw a franchise poised to make a big jump, sensed a connection with general manager Ryan Pace.
“I’m here because of the organization and the direction,” Nagy, the Bears’ new coach, said. “I could feel that from the moment I was in that interview process.”
Getting to work with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is “a benefit.”
The Bears introduced the former Lancaster County resident on Tuesday, a day after he was hired as the team’s 16th head coach to replace the fired John Fox and help a charter NFL franchise emerge from one of its worst runs.
He takes over a team that missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season and hasn’t finished above .500 since Lovie Smith got fired after going 10-6 in 2012. The Bears are on their third head coach since then, with Nagy trying to do what Marc Trestman and Fox could not.
Both got fired with losing records, Fox’s 14-34 mark over three seasons giving him the second-worst winning percentage in team history. Chicago went 5-11 this past season on the way to its fourth straight last-place finish in the NFC North.
A day after his first season as the Chiefs’ sole offensive coordinator ended with a playoff collapse against Tennessee, Nagy spent 4½ hours interviewing with Pace, president Ted Phillips and chairman George McCaskey at a hotel on Kansas City’s Plaza on Sunday morning. He and Pace, along with their wives, also had dinner that night.
In between, he met with the Colts and returned to the Chiefs’ practice facility for exit interviews.
“When I went into this interview in that room it felt… it’s a special feeling,” Nagy said.
“(Pace and I) walked out, we just had a conversation among the two of us and you just kind of knew that this could be really good. Again, I’m going to be right there by his hip.”
A former quarterback at Delaware who played in the Arena Football League, the 39-year-old Nagy spent the past 10 years working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City.
Though he didn’t start calling plays until late in the season, he has drawn praise for his work with Alex Smith.
Nagy has also come a long way, from working in real estate while serving as a coaching intern with the Eagles during training camp in 2008 and 2009. Reid hired him as a coaching assistant during the 2010 season, and he’s continued to work his way up.
On Tuesday, Nagy said he called “every single” play — not Reid — when the Chiefs got blanked in the second half and blew an 18-point lead.
“For me, that was a failure in my book,” Nagy said. “But I’ll grow from it, and I’ll learn from it, I promise you that, and I’ll use it as a strength here for me with the Chicago Bears.”
Nagy said he will call plays on offense in Chicago. He also said he’s not sure if defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will stay or if the Bears will continue to run a 3-4 defense.