Wildcard Saturday Commentary: Nagy Could Be Next McVay (But What About His Staff?)

| January 6th, 2018

Matt Nagy has spent his entire career with Andy Reid; not a bad guy to hitch your wagon to. Reid’s coaching tree has had prolific success, winning championships as head coaches, coordinators and position coaches. Just look at the his 2001 staff in Philadelphia:

  • Brad Childress (QB)
  • Pat Shurmur (TE)
  • Jim Johnson (DC)
  • Ron Rivera (LB)
  • Steve Spagnuolo (DB)
  • Leslie Frazier (DB)
  • Sean McDermott (ASST.)
  • John Harbaugh (ST)
  • Dave Toub (AST)

Behind every great coach there are great assistants. None of Andy Reid’s assistants rose as quickly as Nagy. But the young offensive coordinator’s lack of experience in multiple staff rooms could suggest to NFL front offices an inability to find his own assistants, keeping him from the opportunity to be a head coach.

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DaBearsPod: No Pats Coaches, Jeff on the Radio, Dave Eats Dog [AUDIO]

| January 5th, 2018


  • Jeff makes the case against Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia.
  • Jeff then appears with his buddies Jimmy B and TC on KBGG 1700 in Des Moines.
  • The great jazz vocalist Cyrille Aimee offers some New Year’s tidings. If you don’t know her music, know her music: cyrillemusic.com.
  • Reverend Dave ate dog in china. It’s a horrible story. And it is apologized for immediately after he tells it.
  • Fight song finale!

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Across The Middle: Call to McDaniels Had To Be Made

| January 3rd, 2018

I don’t know if Josh McDaniels has learned from his failures in Denver, but I’m glad Ryan Pace intends to find out. We can sit back and debate the qualifications of all the other candidates, but there’s no questioning what McDaniels has done. The 41-year-old offensive coordinator…

  • Has five Super Bowl rings.
  • Has coached nine offenses that have finished in the top 10 in scoring and seven that have taken top 10 spots in yardage.
  • Has won at least one game with six different quarterbacks, including an 11-5 campaign with Matt Cassell.
  • Has has been credited with developing young quarterbacks (who were later traded for draft picks) in Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.
  • In New England’s 2017 Super Bowl run, they averaged 34.6 points per game. They scored 28 points against the best defense in the league to win the 2015 Super Bowl.

You name it, he’s done it. He’s the one guy every team with an opening has to interview.

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Flip the Script: Bears Should Hire Eagles Quarterbacks Coach

| January 1st, 2018

At the end of the 2013 season, when Phil Emery was looking for Lovie Smith’s successor, I wrote a column endorsing Kyle Shanahan for the job. That column was met with across-the-board rejection from not only readers but friends in the media and around the league. My argument was simple. I thought Shanahan was going to be a great head coach soon enough, knew he had a terrific relationship with Jay Cutler and wanted the Bears to grab him before he became a hot commodity. Sure enough, a few years later, Shanny went on to create explosive offenses in Atlanta and become the hottest coach on the market in 2017.

John Eugene DeFilippo is that guy right now.


Let’s just go through Flip’s career and see what he’s accomplished because it’s rather remarkable for someone who is only thirty-nine years old.

  • He began his NFL coaching career on Tom Coughlin’s staff with the New York Giants. Never a bad thing to get your first exposure to the league under one of its greatest coaches.
  • After two traumatic seasons in Oakland (‘The Kiffin/Cable Years’) he was the rookie year QB coach for Mark Sanchez in Jersey. Sanchez, coming off one year starting in college, struggled through that season but then turned everything around in the postseason. With Trubisky trusting and relying on Sanchez, Flip could probably convince him to stay on as QB coach and now the Bears would be building a similar coaching coalition to what exists in Philly.
  • Flip left the Jets, where he was splitting duties with former Bears OC Matt Cavanaugh, and returned to the college ranks. His work at San Jose State was apparently pretty damn good but who is really doing a deep dive into what’s good and not good at San Jose State?
  • He returned to the pro ranks, coaching both Derek Carr as a rookie and coordinating the Browns for a year with a quarterbacking trio of Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel and Austin Davis. That trio completed 60% of their passes for 4,156 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. That trio. Did that.
  • He’s been the QB coach for Carson Wentz and been primarily responsible for the Wentz transition from lost rookie fading down the stretch to MVP candidate. And let me tell you this. If Nick Foles takes this team deep into the playoffs, Flip will have the suitors stacking up.

The Leap.

Listen, is the jump from position coach to head coach a big one? Yes. But two things. (1) Andy Reid did it once. (2) Flip has already been a coordinator, even if only for one year, even if only for the Browns. And Flip also sounds an awful lot like a head coach. His players agree. From current Eagles backup Nate Sudfeld:

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Four Thoughts on the Eve of John Fox’s Final Game as Bears Head Coach

| December 30th, 2017

John Fox will lead the Bears one more time, tomorrow, in Minneapolis. These will be my final thoughts on the Fox tenure.

(1) People need to stop revisiting how and why Fox was hired. There was no conspiracy. Ownership did not inflict Fox upon Ryan Pace. It was a simple process.

  • When the Bears hired Pace, Ernie Accorsi and ownership believed it would be wise to pair the young GM with a veteran head coach. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
  • Accorsi had known John Fox for thirty years so the coach’s surprising availability was an ideal match.
  • Accorsi and ownership asked Pace to meet Fox.
  • Pace met him. For a long time.
  • Pace decided to hire him. If Pace had called ownership and said no, Fox would not have been hired. Did ownership clearly want him to make this decision? Yes. Did Pace feel pressured to make it? I’ve been told by someone who really knows that Pace didn’t need pressure. He liked Fox a lot.

Everybody. Was. On. Board.

(2) Fox took over the worst defense in the history of the Chicago Bears. That’s not hyperbole. That’s fact. And today that unit is ranked 8th in the NFL, even while suffering a series of debilitating injuries and playing half the season with no pass rushers. There are a lot of factors why but the John Fox is leaving the Bears in far better shape than he found them.

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Across The Middle: Next Coach Needs To Be A Winner

| December 27th, 2017

When the Bears hire their next coach, they better make sure he knows what it takes to win.

When looking at the 10 active head coaches with the highest winning percentage and 10 who lasted three years or fewer in their head coaching stints, the difference was clear. Of the 10 coaches with the highest winning percentages:

  • 7 had won at least 20 more games than they lost prior to taking their current jobs.
  • 9 had major championship game experience.
  • 9 won championships at some point in their lives.

Out of the 10 coaches who flamed out quickly, the best had won 14 more games than he lost and only two had previously won Super Bowls.

Two coaches that make this study a bit more inexact are Pete Carroll and Andy Reid. Carroll had six years as a defensive coordinator, going 49-47 and he was 33-31 as an NFL head coach prior to coming to Seattle. But his work at USC was exemplary, going 97-19 with two championships. Reid is the only coach in the top 10 who had no experience as a coordinator, but he was part of the great Green Bay Packers teams of the mid 90s, where he won a Super Bowl. Any way you slice it, you’re looking at two coaches who had quite a bit of success before they hit it big with their current teams.

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Across The Middle: Pace Was Sunday’s Big Winner

| December 13th, 2017

No Bear had a better day Sunday than General Manager Ryan Pace.

His quarterback was in control throughout the game. His tight end made big catches. His running backs did whatever the hell they wanted because the offensive line he built paved the way.  His offense dominated and he’s going to be able to use that tape to sell the future to fans and his next head coach.

I have ruled out guys like Jim Harbaugh and Josh McDaniels for the Bears job simply because they’re going to want to be able to pick the players. The last two years the hottest coaches all got personnel say. That’s a trend that isn’t going to end and would generally make the Bears job less attractive. Pace, however, just might have shown the world that he knows what he’s doing and it might be enough for the premier coaches to trust him.

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Three Thoughts on the Bears Beating the Hell Out of the Bengals

| December 11th, 2017

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

(1) I simply didn’t see it coming. I pride myself on having a good feel as to how the Bears will play on a week-to-week basis and I thought the stage was set Sunday for an overwhelming Bengals victory. Instead the Bears, with a lame duck coach, undermanned offense and injury-plagued defense, delivered their best performance of the season. They were simply great in all three phases and that is a credit to John Fox.

(2) Trubisky. Cohen. Howard. Shaheen. Whitehair. Jackson. If you want to know why Ryan Pace isn’t going to be fired, watch the tape of this game. The GM is building a young nucleus through the draft; something the Bears have not done in nearly twenty years. This job will be the best open gig in the NFL come January.

(3) Mitch Trubisky’s last two games. 37-47 (79% completed), 373 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and quarterback rating around 115.

Okay, so I’m not going to overreact to these two games. I didn’t overreact to some of his struggles so I’m not going to overreact to his terrific play the last two weeks. But the thing that should excite Bears fans is the number of players on this roster who are quick to tell media, immediately post-game, how great a leader Trubisky is. Folks, that’s not normal. Rookies don’t command huddles very often. Rookies don’t impress veterans with their attitude and composure very often. This kid has all the intangibles of a great quarterback.

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Across The Middle: Tightening Pace’s Leash

| November 29th, 2017

The Bears could’ve had the best coaches in the history of football and they still would’ve lost to the Eagles by 20 points.

Say what you will about John Fox and company — and it’s probably all fair — but the hard truth is that the Bears don’t have enough good players. A lot of that is due to injury. Losing their top two receivers and all four starting linebackers is a tough blow. But still, they should be able to put up a fight!

Let’s look at who was available Sunday against Philadelphia:

  • Markus Wheaton is paid like a starter.
  • Nick Kwiatkoski should be a starter at this point anyway. Christian Jones has played like one.
  • Deiondre Hall, Deon Bush and Hroniss Grasu should all be starters.
  • Jon Bullard was drafted to be a major piece. He shouldn’t be warming the bench behind a journeyman at this point.
  • Pernell McPhee has turned into a ghost.

I like Ryan Pace. Most fans do. I’d argue his plus decisions far outweigh his minuses but nowhere near as much as the losses outweigh the wins.

The Bears are at a crossroads.

They will, and I still believe should, allow Pace to hire the next coach. But what if they’re 3-8 next year too? Do they just hit the reset button again? How long can they reasonably expect this loyal fan base to be patient? They are currently suffering through one of the worst four-year stretches in team history.

I’ve long said the primary reason I wouldn’t want to hire Jim Harbaugh or Josh McDaniels is because they’d want to be Pace’s boss too, but I’m no longer sure that should stop the Bears. New England, Seattle, Kansas City, New Orleans all have their coaches in charge of the rosters. If Jim Harbaugh calls up George McCaskey and says he wants to the keys to the franchise, has Pace done enough for the Bears to justify saying no? Even if you look at first time head coaches the last two years, two of the big fishes were handed the keys to their franchises in Miami and San Francisco. That doesn’t include Sean McDermott, who was given what he asked for after a month or so on the job.

We have months to debate the coaching pedigrees of Harbaugh, McDaniels and everyone else, including whether or not they deserve such power. That’s not the point. The point is, how can we be so sure that Pace does? To be clear, this isn’t a call to fire Pace. I think he’s shown that he has an eye for talent. I just hope the Bears don’t let a great football mind out the door simply because Pace has a solid draft record.

Hopefully the problem is simple as needing a new coach and another off-season to build depth. I’m just not entirely sure that’s true. This is Year Three, the Bears should be much further along. Blame Fox all you want, but Pace has blood on his hands too. Here’s to hoping he can get it cleaned up.

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Six Thoughts on the Bears Head Coaching Position in 2018 (Based on Actual Reporting)

| November 28th, 2017

Spent all day Monday reaching out to every single contact I have in the NFL. All four of ’em. Why? Because I was angry, frustrated, tired of writing about a losing team…etc. I figured I could only spend so much time yelling at my cats about the Bears’ misuse of Tarik Cohen so I might as well use the energy for good. Here’s what I know.

(None of this is based on guesswork. This is stuff I was actually told.)

(1) There is a roughly .01% chance of John Fox being the coach on January 2nd 2018. Ryan Pace will hire his replacement.

(2) There was consideration given to firing John Fox after the Green Bay game but ownership/Pace don’t believe there’s a good interim option on the staff. This includes Vic Fangio who, I’m told, would not be super keen on the assignment and has turned down extension offers from the team to stay on as defensive coordinator.

(3) George McCaskey idolizes how the Giants and Steelers are run and has decided to emulate their approach. He does not want to fire a coach in-season. This does not mean he would never do it. But, honestly, emulating the Giants and Steelers is never a bad thing, folks.

(4) If Fox loses this week to the 49ers, don’t be surprised if his tenure ends Monday morning. If he loses to the Browns on Christmas Eve, he won’t coach the finale. I don’t know why so much emphasis is being put on two meaningless games against awful opponents, other than their being at home, but that’s what I was told.

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