LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears were looking for a coach to get the most out of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and help a founding NFL franchise emerge from one of its worst runs.
They believe Matt Nagy is the right man.
The Bears hired Kansas City’s offensive coordinator as their 16th head coach Monday, hoping he can develop their promising quarterback and turn around a struggling team.
The Bears announced the move a week after firing coach John Fox, who went 14-34 in three seasons for a .292 winning percentage that is the second-lowest in team history. Chicago was 5-11 this season and hasn’t finished above .500 since letting Lovie Smith go following a 10-6 finish in 2012, two years after its most recent visit to the playoffs.
The 39-year-old Nagy spent the past 10 seasons working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City. He did not call plays until late this season, but drew praise for his work with Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
In Chicago, the former quarterback at Delaware and then the Arena Football League will be trying to develop Trubisky, last year’s No. 2 overall draft pick.
“He’s a good football coach, first of all,” Reid said. “I appreciate the way he comes to work and the attitude he brings. He puts his own flare on things. I think that’s important to know. Everybody does it their way.”
Nagy coached in high school and was still working in real estate when he served as a coaching intern with the Eagles during training camp in 2008 and 2009. He got a big break, though it came with a pay cut, when he took the job as a coaching assistant during the 2010 season.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace has plenty riding on him.
Pace put his reputation on the line when he traded up a spot with San Francisco to draft Trubisky even though he made just 13 college starts at North Carolina. It’s up to Nagy to help polish a quarterback who showed some promise with his strong arm and quickness after he took over for Mike Glennon.
If Trubisky succeeds, there’s a good chance the Bears start winning. That would likely mean a long future in Chicago for Pace, who recently got a contract extension through the 2021 season.
The Chiefs won the AFC West, only to blow an 18-point halftime lead in a playoff loss to Tennessee on Saturday. That didn’t stop the Bears from moving quickly on Nagy, interviewing him Sunday and hiring him a day later.
Chicago also met with Philadelphia quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, offensive coordinators Pat Shurmur (Minnesota) and Josh McDaniels (New England), Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards and Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. There were no known second interviews.
Though the defense performed well under Fangio, Nagy inherits a roster with holes. The Bears had no playmaking receivers, and their offensive line got banged up this season.
Pace has had some big hits in the draft such as running back Jordan Howard (2016, fifth round) and notable misses such as oft-injured receiver Kevin White (2015, first round). Injuries have consistently exposed a lack of depth, and Pace’s record in free agency has so far been shaky; he has struggled to find replacements for talented players no longer with the team such as receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, tight end Martellus Bennett and kicker Robbie Gould.
Fox at least helped restore some of the professionalism that was missing under former GM Phil Emery and coach Marc Trestman. But Fox’s conservative approach and some questionable decisions during games were sore spots.
The Bears were 3-15 against the NFC North under Fox and dropped all six division games this past season. That will be one of the many things Nagy will need to help solve.
“Up-and-coming, smart guy,” Chiefs assistant head coach Brad Childress said of Nagy. “He’s played the quarterback position, so he gets it. He knows how to teach. He’s got a great demeanor about him. He’s got a creative mind. I think he’s got everything going for him.”