Sometimes, the best moves you make are the ones you don’t.
Josh McDaniels was one of the hottest coaching candidates (believed to be) available this offseason, and that mattered to the Chicago Bears, because they were clearly ready to move on from John Fox.
So, naturally, they were quick to line McDaniels up for an interview during the New England Patriots’ bye week and did just that. At one point, according to Jason La Canfora, McDaniels was believed to be at the top of the Bears’ list, but they ultimately decided to go in a different direction. Why? Well, I think it’s fair to say that Ryan Pace’s instant connection with Matt Nagy, and Nagy’s own interest/belief in Mitch Trubisky played a role, but maybe that wasn’t everything.
Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the team left their interview with McDaniels with a feeling of apprehension regarding his willingness to leave the New England Patriots (a feeling, in retrospect, that was rather prescient). This feels like a major bullet dodged.
Consider how swiftly the Bears moved in the interview process to hire Matt Nagy days after interviewing McDaniels. Then, remember how enthusiastic Pace sounded to work with Nagy during his introductory press conference, and how Nagy reciprocated that while showing an eagerness to work with quarterback Mitch Trubisky. It’s possible the Bears felt McDaniels’ move coming and decided to strike quickly.
It’s also worth noting that the Indianapolis Colts had their shot at hiring Nagy, who chose Chicago over Indianapolis – and with good reason. Remember, Brad Childress suggested in an ESPN Radio interview that Nagy felt more comfortable with the Bears than he did with the Colts – even though Nagy already had a bit of a rapport with Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard from their time with the Chiefs. Childress, who Nagy sees as a mentor, is expected to join the Bears as an offensive consultant.
The path to hiring a new head coach isn’t as always as smooth and direct as the Bears made it look to start the offseason. Pace (along with Chairman George McCaskey and President Ted Phillips) interviewed a half-dozen candidates in a five-day span before concluding that Nagy was the right guy for the job.
That they don’t have to deal with coaching search drama into February is just gravy.