Andy Reid is one of football’s best coaches and has the tree to prove it.
Since becoming a head coach in 1999, 10 of Reid’s assistants have moved on to take up head-coaching opportunities – including seven who are still currently employed as head coaches. For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on Matt Nagy – the newest branch to extend from the tree and the one that Bears fans hope can deliver a Super Bowl victory to Chicago.
In any case, Reid jumped on 670 The Score with Dan McNeil and Danny Parkins earlier this week to get some background on the Bears’ new head coach, the team’s second-year quarterback, and much more.
You can listen to the full interview right here, but we’ll go over some highlights along with some additional context and analysis below.
The Value of Patience and a Bold Guarantee
If there is one thing Bears fans should be familiar with is waiting. The team has gone six years without a winning season, eight years without a postseason appearance, 12 years since winning the conference and raising the George S. Halas trophy, and 33 years since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after winning the Super Bowl.
So what’s a few more years?
OK, we’re growing a little impatient, too. Still, Reid believes in Matt Nagy’s ability to bring this team into the light … even success might not come right away.
“Just be patient. I know good things will happen. We’re not in a 100-yard dash here. Give them the time and you’re going to have a good football team for a long time. He’s tremendous. And if it happens this year, it happens. But I’ll guarantee it will happen.”
For history’s sake, it’s worth pointing out that the Eagles went 5-11 in Reid’s first season. He would then guide Philadelphia to five consecutive double-digit win seasons, four division titles, three trips to the NFC title game, and one Super Bowl appearance.
If you could lock in a repeat of that scenario right now, would you do it?
What Makes Matt Nagy So Great Anyway?
Reid dove into what made Nagy the kind of assistant worthy of being called the best head coaching candidate he has ever had and checked all the boxes you would expect. Reid cited Nagy’s makeup, energy, intelligence, and passion. He also gave a vote of confidence to the team’s ownership group, saying he thinks the world of the McCaskey family.
But what stood out most from the pile of praise Reid threw at his former assistant was how he described Nagy as a people person who was an ideal fit for Chicago.
“First of all, we’re in a people business. I would tell you he’s great with people. He knows when to crank it up and get after them. At the same time, he’ll have a good feel on when to pat them on the back. He’ll fit in very well with Chicago. I was in Green Bay all those years and I understand the atmosphere in Chicago. Even though it’s a big city, it’s a blue-collar mentality there. He’s extremely tough. I would joke with him, ‘You’re really tough for a quarterback.’ But he is. He’s a tough kid. He’s got that Pennsylvania grit to him.”
The Bears have football cliche’s covered in 2018 between Anthony Miller’s “Memphis Grind” and Nagy’s “Pennsylvania Grit.”
Reid Confirms Chiefs Interest In Mitch Trubisky and Offers Plenty of Praise
There was limited tape on Trubisky when he left North Carolina with just 13 starts and 572 passes under his belt. So for teams to roll the dice for him, you had to figure there was an intensive interview process going on.
Reid said he and Matt Nagy met with Trubisky for six hours during his pre-draft visit to Kansas City, adding that Trubisky was “one of the guys we really liked.” In that time, the two came away impressed with Trubisky’s intelligence and walked away with a feeling that he could handle the responsibility of running their offense. From there, Reid opened a window into what he (and Nagy) were looking for when grilling their quarterbacks.
“The best thing you do, and I think Matt will tell you this, is that you find out what your quarterback likes and doesn’t like. Put your ego aside as a coach and let them feel the responsibility that they have the keys to the car. Make them earn that, but at the same time, have a feel for that and give them a little say and responsibility in the offense.”
The Andy Reid Rule™?
Nagy’s path to becoming an NFL head coach was far from linear, but that’s what makes his road unique. You’d think going from being balling at Division I-AA Delaware to tossing 374 touchdowns a six-season run in the Arena Football League to being an NFL assistant is wild enough, but that just starts to scratch the surface. It all began when Reid brought Nagy in to throw some passes while also trying to learn the tricks of the coaching trade.
“I brought him in, before I hired him, as a camp quarterback. They put a rule in you could only have X number of people, so that fourth or fifth quarterback position got cut from everybody’s staff. Well, he’s in the Arena League, and the Arena League kinda goes bottom up there for a season. And so he wants to deep down be a coach. So I said ‘Come in, I’ll teach you the coaching part, you’ll throw drills for me – not in uniform or anything.'”
Alright, that’s innocent enough. Young, inquisitive mind wants to stay in football and get in on the bottom floor as a coaching assistant. But that’s not where the story ends.
“All of a sudden, Michael Vick gets hurt and I need another quarterback to play in a game that’s two days away. So I dress him down. We get through one practice and somehow we get turned in. There was a rule that I was stashing players as coaches, and Matt was that guy. It was ridiculous, but that was a new rule they added in at the moment and he never got to play in the game. From there, I go ‘Someday, I’m going to hire this guy.'”
Eventually, Reid did hire Nagy. He started his climb as a coaching intern, moved to a coaches’ assistant, and slid over to become an offensive quality control coach in his final year with the Eagles. Nagy followed Reid to Kansas City where he coached quarterbacks and served as the team’s offensive coordinator. It all led to Nagy landing in Chicago, where the next chapter of his story will be written.