It’s okay to get excited about a new coaching staff.
It doesn’t mean you irrationally believe that staff is going to cure all that ails the franchise you root for; in this case your Chicago Bears. It doesn’t mean the good players will now become great players and the bad players good players. It just means you believe a new collection of leaders, a new assemblage of ideas has the chance to change things for the better.
When John Fox hired Adam Gase and Vic Fangio to be his offensive and defensive coordinators (respectively) there was nary a negative word to be written. Gase was the hottest young offensive assistant in the game, having interviewed for several head-coaching vacancies. Fangio was a steady rock of a coordinator, coming off his most successful stint in the league. Did it work out? No. But was that any fault of the initial coordinator hires? Doubtful. That blame falls on quarterback turnover, a tsunami of injuries and a head coach watching the game blow by like a Dakotan tumbleweed.
This is a coaching staff to get excited about. And fans should allow themselves that moment of excitement, even if it is only a moment. There are many reasons why.
- When I ask my friends in the league to name the best offensive line coaches in the sport, three names surface: Dante Scarnecchia (the gold standard), Mike Munchak (will be employed in the NFL for 30 more years) and Harry Hiestand. Hiestand’s first time around with the Bears was exceptional but over the last five years he’s built Notre Dame’s OL into one of the most consistently dominating position groups in the nation. Of all the hires Nagy made this week, this is the most impressive.
- But don’t get wrapped up in how this effects the draft. Yes, I believe Quenton Nelson is the best player entering the NFL next season and would be THRILLED to see him in Chicago. But the Bears would have known his ability with or without Hiestand on the staff. All having Hiestand at Halas Hall does is eliminate the need for lengthy pre-draft meetings with the ND guard. (The same can be said for the other major league prospect off this unit, tackle Mike McGlinchey.)
- Mark Helfrich is the offensive coordinator but he’s not going to call plays. This means what interested Nagy were the concepts Helfrich would bring to a professional offense from the college ranks. An article in the Tampa Bay Times from 2015 did a nice job summarizing the Oregon offense. (Read the entire piece by CLICKING HERE.) But here’s a passage worth pointing out:
3. It’s confusing
Oregon’s connection with zone-read option runs is well known. Quarterback Marcus Mariota (left) reads the defense, then decides whether to keep the ball or hand it off to a running back (or receiver).
The Ducks passing game is equally confusing for defenses. Mariota threw the ball 27 times during the first half of the Rose Bowl. All but five of those passes involved some sort of misdirection: a pump fake to a receiver, a designed quarterback rollout, a fake handoff to a teammate, or some combination of the three.
According to profootballfocus.com, Mariota used play action on 51 percent of his 372 passes during the regular season.