Looming Bears Offensive Coordinator Hire Going Way Outside the Box

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It’s clear from early indications that new Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy isn’t afraid to go away from traditional paths to fill his assistant coaching positions. Already he dipped into the college ranks to secure his offensive line guru in Harry Hiestand. Is it possible the 39-year old could continue to seek out solutions for his staff in the college ranks? When it comes to the Bears offensive coordinator position that’s a definite yes.

No deal is done yet but there are reports that Chicago is in hot pursuit of one of the top offensive minds in the NCAA. Mike Mulligan who does the Mully & Hanley show for 670 The Score heard that the team is closing in on a deal to bring Mark Helfrich in as the new offensive coordinator. Helfrich was the head coach at Oregon from 2013 to 2016 and before that their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Chip Kelly.

Helfrich worked as an analyst at Fox Sports in 2017 so he’s a free agent. At age 44 he’s a young coach who is no doubt anxious to get back into the game. If this deal goes through it will mark the first time he’s ascended to the NFL ranks. Certainly a bold move by Nagy.

Mark Helfrich as Bears offensive coordinator will embrace the spread

It seems like more than ever the NFL has begun to embrace the concept of spread offenses. This is almost a necessity given that most college offenses run a variation of it. Oregon was one of the first major programs that truly embraced its concepts. Helfrich has been described as a keen mind who sees the game through the eyes of the quarterback. No doubt this move was meant to further the expertise around Mitch Trubisky.

The seeds were planted for him back in the 1990s as a graduate assistant at Oregon. There he worked under future NFL head coach Dirk Koetter. They would continue a working relationship until 2005 at Arizona State. During that time Koetter developed a healthy respect for what Helfrich could do and the potential he had as a coach.

“He can do it all in his head. He doesn’t have to draw the pictures on the board (…) not many people can do that. sees the game through the quarterback’s eyes. We all have ideas, but if your quarterback can’t execute those ideas, they are lines on a paper. Mark is as smart a football guy as I know.”

Helfrich had a direct hand in the rise of Marcus Mariota

Easily his biggest claim to fame was the nearly unstoppable Ducks no-huddle offense during the Chip Kelly era and his own as head coach. While the offense in general had great success, his biggest claim to fame was being the one to help turn Marcus Mariota into a future #2 overall pick. Under his direction Mariota threw for 10,796 yards, 105 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions in three years. He won the Heisman in 2014.

That same year they went 13-2 and made it to the first ever College Football Playoff. There they demolished Florida State in the Rose Bowl before coming up short in the national championship game against Ohio State. At its best the Oregon offense under Helfrich was quick, precise, balanced and relentless. It relied on speed and tempo to wear a defense down.

With Mariota it operated at its best for two key reasons. They were his quick trigger and accurate arm along with his mobility to extend plays. Both of these traits are something that Trubisky shares. The Bears quarterback operated a version of the spread offense at North Carolina. So these concepts won’t be foreign to him at all. In fact whenever Chicago ran certain plays that were similar to it in 2017, they tended to have a lot of success.

Helfrich’s style mixed with Nagy’s NFL experience could be quite an exciting combination for this offense. A total change from the dusty, old school style of John Fox and Dowell Loggains.