The biggest hire for any new head coach is filling the coordinator position that is opposite of their personal expertise. Defensive head coaches must get the offensive coordinator position right. Offensive head coaches must get the defensive coordinator position right. If they don’t, winning games is difficult. Matt Nagy understood this the moment he took over command control of the Chicago Bears.
That’s why he aimed to make his first job easy. Rather than go out seeking a qualified coordinator elsewhere, he preferred to just keep things status quo. That meant finding a way to convince Vic Fangio to stay. The 59-year old completed one of his most impressive seasons to date in 2017. Despite not fielding a single Pro Bowler, Chicago finished with the 10th overall defense in the NFL.
This despite a rash of injuries to key starters like Leonard Floyd, Jerrell Freeman and Quintin Demps. The challenge for Nagy was finding a way to sell his vision on the Bears to Fangio who had plenty of other options open to him. It was touch and go for a bit. In the end the deal was closed. So how did he do it?
Matt Nagy talked with Fangio as expected: without the BS
One thing that has stood out about Fangio during the past three years is he’s not a man known for his subtlety. When he talks he gives it straight and honest. It’s one of the reasons fans love him. It also might be why he and John Fox were rumored to have some heat. Fox wasn’t known for being totally transparent at times.
Nagy clearly understood he had to make an impression. So he did it Fangio’s way: straightforward.
“When I went through the process here, one of the biggest hires for me and making sure things would work out the right way and do it the right way was taking care of the defensive side of the ball with coach Fangio,” Nagy said.
“What a successful defense last year that he ran and those guys did such a great job, so that was important just to sit down with him, get to meet him as a person and listen to his philosophy, kind of explain my philosophy, see if it works and it did. We had a great conversation. I just have a world of respect for coach and I’m really excited for that part of it.”
#Bears HC Matt Nagy on DC Vic Fangio's defenses: "The numbers speak for themselves. The production is there. You're talking about a top-10 defense year-in and year-out."
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 18, 2018
— Bears Talk (@NBCSBears) January 18, 2018
Nagy seemed to get through. Fangio signed a new three-year deal to return to Chicago. His players are thrilled and no doubt fans already have a reason to like Nagy. He’s come across as a man who recognizes something logical and making sure to keep it that way. Retaining Fangio at all costs was a no brainer. The stats alone prove that much.