Joniak's Journal: Nagy Wins NFL Coach Of The Year, Shows He Has Big Dreams

Jeff Joniak
February 02, 2019 - 6:29 pm

Jeff Joniak


First Impression

It is a humbling moment in the spotlight for Matt Nagy, the Associated Press NFL coach of the year.  It caps an amazing turnaround for a Bears franchise that bounced from worst-to-first in the NFC North in Nagy’s maiden voyage as head coach.

“This is truly about our team, and our players, our coaches, everybody at Halas Hall,” said Nagy. “It’s crazy to think that this was one person. For me just being a part of this organization for our players, just being able to believe in what we wanted to do with our culture and follow through with it was just a special year for us.”

Bears GM Ryan Pace picked the right head coach for the Bears in Nagy.  His optimistic, energized, creative and aggressive coaching style came off as organic and genuine to his players.  He connected in a unique way at the first team meeting last April. 

“It starts with foundationally building and developing a relationship,” L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay said this week, when talking about coaching. “We want to be a connected team that is consistent in that approach.” 

It helps to navigate adversity and to be comfortable to be vulnerable.  Authentic rapport is what Chicago's Nagy has with the entire building and it resonates with his players like it does with McVay and his Rams.

“Be You” and “Be Obsessed” were Nagy’s platform for his Bears.  He lived it.

“I did. I felt there was at times for me, myself, the be you part, that you get challenged, but that’s the fun part.  Now I can reflect myself next year when those tests and challenges came and how am I going to handle it. We’ll continue to use a couple of those.  We’ll have new ones and then that’s going to be the platform from when we started and always look back to move forward.”

Nagy is the first Bears Coach of the Year winner since Lovie Smith in 2005 and the fifth in Bears history following George Halas, Mike Ditka, Dick Jauron, and Smith.

Jeff Joniak/WBBM Newsradio

Second Thought

While NFL owners suggest they are looking for the next Sean McVey as the popular coaching model, they also should be looking at the next Matt Nagy.  McVey throughout the week has talked about his mission statement for the Rams and it is very similar to Nagy’s.   It all begins with a transparent and genuine interpersonal connection with the 53-man roster. 

““Building relationships off the field with the players,” Nagy said is where he felt his biggest growth came personally. “I felt good about building relationships with guys across the board and knowing who they are and then when you get out to practice or you get to a game that trust jumps out and gets stronger and stronger and you are able to help use that to get to different levels.”

Nagy and his wife Stacey are celebrating their wedding anniversary on Super Bowl Saturday and what a great celebration that will be for the high school sweethearts. 

Third Degree

Nagy is just getting started.  He has big goals and big dreams. The Bears are on their way if you ask most NFL experts and fans. Nagy said that is a fair statement.

“I love it, absolutely. That’s not anything that we’re going to shy away from. We talked to the guys. We’re no longer hunting, we’re now the hunted. But that’s okay. We earned that right, but now let’s strap it up and get ready because people are coming for us.”

Nagy’s defense is in great hands with stars all over the unit and a new coordinator in Chuck Pagano wired to Nagy’s aggressive football mindset. Nagy’s offense is in the midst of a growth spurt with budding stars in running back Tarik Cohen, wide receiver Allen Robinson, three linemen that have made the Pro Bowl, another in the making in guard James Daniels, a talented young receiver in Anthony Miller and a number of role filling options at the skill positions, and developing and maturing quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who is the key to the unit’s development.  There are moves to be made to enhance the roster, but the core is strong.

Fourth and Short

Among the current and former Bears walking the NFL Honors red carpet were right guard Kyle Long, tight end and Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year candidate Trey Burton, former Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, Hall of Fame middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, newly retired former Bears defensive end Julius Peppers, and former Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey.