Dan Wiederer quotes Bears head coach Matt Nagy in an interview with the Chicago Tribune:
“What I’ve learned the most from the past two years — and I put this on me — is I think we lost a little bit of that (edge) with those standards,” Nagy said. “You just think they’re going to happen naturally from the culture that you built. And when I say that, I’m talking about practice habits. It’s starting with me making sure that every single play, we are going 100 mph. And if you’re tired? Get your tail out. That’s going to be a mindset and an attitude that then goes onto the playing field on Sundays.
“I feel like when some things didn’t happen (for us), it was more us just saying, ‘OK, when is it going to happen?’ Instead of making it happen. I have to be better as a head coach on the front end on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday in practice of making sure that we are the best practice team in the NFL. … I feel like the last two years, that slipped a little bit.”
First of all, kudos to Nagy for this incredibly honest response. In it, Nagy confirms something I think most of us suspect about the natural order of things in the NFL.
For most new head coaches, the first year is relatively easy. Everyone on the team is on edge and concentrates just a little bit more because they aren’t familiar with the coaching staff and they’re on uncertain ground. Relationships with the previous coaching staff are now gone and suddenly you are wondering how safe your job is. IN 2018 when Nagy and his staff were new, this is the position the Bears players found themselves in. As often happens that first year, they got very good results.
The problem is that rarely lasts. Players establish new relationships with coaches. Coaches get to know and trust the players. Everyone eases up a bit. That’s the position the team is in now.
Nagy has a real problem here, one that might be more serious than he thinks. Its hard for any coaching staff to maintain that edge that natural circumstances created in that first year. Almost no one manages to do it. But once you ease up, its mighty tough to go back to the way things were. Players resent it and it can create a bit of a toxic atmosphere.
I’m not saying Nagy can’t do it and I’m certainly not saying that he shouldn’t try. But it will be interesting to see if he can be one of those rare types of managers who can pull it off.