Published On: Sat, Jan 13th, 2018

With coaching staff set, Bears' playoff return is closer than you think

Share This
Tags


It’s no secret that the Chicago Bears of recent years haven’t exactly resembled the Monsters of the Midway that ruled the NFL in the 1940s and again in the mid-1980s.

With four straight seasons of double-digit losses since 2014, the Bears are on the worst skid in franchise history and haven’t made the postseason since 2010.

But things could turn around in a hurry.

Chicago named its 19th head coach in franchise history Monday, revealing that former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy will run the show.

Nagy had a busy first week on the job, reportedly bringing in former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator and retaining Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator.

The Bears’ 5-11 record suggests they’re still in the early stages of rebuilding, but the team’s development is further along than the typical first-year head coach is accustomed to, and Chicago could return to playoff contention quickly.

Nagy’s background as Chiefs offensive coordinator – and Alex Smith‘s former quarterbacks coach – makes him one of the more suitable fits for Mitch Trubisky, who just finished his first season as the Bears’ quarterback.

Though Trubisky is his own player, he has a few undeniable similarities to Smith, who enjoyed his best career season under Nagy in 2017. Both quarterbacks are comfortable throwing on the move and can use their legs to take advantage of what defenses give them. They aren’t particularly outspoken in the media, but still appear to command the respect of their teammates. Both passers depend more on accuracy than arm strength.


Luckily for them, Nagy’s offense takes advantage of its best athletes by working to find them space without requiring the quarterback to throw the ball deep or rely on an abundance of playmakers. This season, three Kansas City players – Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill – accounted for 4,069 of the team’s 6,007 scrimmage yards, and they finished with the fifth-best offense.

Helfrich, Nagy’s new offensive coordinator, is a disciple of Chip Kelly, and coached under him at Oregon from 2009-12 when the team implemented and popularized running a hurry-up offense from the spread. Helfrich’s college system was designed to isolate playmakers, reward speed, and simplify quarterback reads.

Nagy and Helfrich need to figure out how to combine their stylistic preferences to fix the Bears’ offense, which ranked last in passing in 2017. The good news is that most of the pieces may already be on the roster – or could be there soon, since the team holds the eighth overall pick and plenty of cap space.

In terms of running backs, Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard are the best backfield duo that Nagy or Helfrich has ever worked with. Cohen’s speed and shiftiness can make him the Hill of this offense as a gadget player, though someone else will have to fill the deep-threat role.


Several pass-catchers already on the roster have the pace to pull defenses out of position with deep routes, though finding a No. 1 receiver is the top priority on the offensive side of the ball before next season. Tight end Adam Shaheen, who caught three touchdowns in his rookie season out of little-known Ashland University, and receiver Cameron Meredith, who was injured all of 2017, are potential breakout candidates next year. The rest of the Bears’ skill position players can fill supporting roles the way that Albert Wilson, Charcandrick West, and Demetrius Harris have done for the Chiefs.

Defensively, the Bears are already a stout unit – provided they can stay healthy.

While dealing with a slew of injuries and a rookie quarterback in charge of keeping the offense on the field, the Bears allowed the 10th-fewest yards in 2017. Twelve players recorded more than one sack, while none had more than 8.5 as the Bears finished with the seventh-best pass rush. Despite the impressive statistical finish, only three opening-day defensive starters – Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson, and Akiem Hicks – managed to record 16 starts.

Chicago’s most important defensive need this offseason is a top cornerback to elevate the secondary and lock down the likes of Davante Adams, Marvin Jones, and Adam Thielen in the NFC North.


Nagy’s rise to head coach has come quickly; he held a position above NFL quality control coach for only five years before the Bears hired him. He joins general manager Ryan Pace’s rebuild without a huge pool of experience and data to draw from. Judging from what we know about Nagy and his staff, however, it looks like the Bears made a smart hire by bringing in someone who suits their roster, and the move may yield positive results in the near future.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)



Source link

About the Author

Like us on Facebook
/