Matt Nagy is in a serious bind. The 2021 season is looking like a do-or-die one for him. He needs to get the absolute most out of this offseason and things haven’t gotten off to an easy start. That was made clear when defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano decided to retire. If that weren’t bad enough, there are genuine fears that top assistant Jay Rodgers could leave for lucrative opportunities elsewhere.
Given how vital the defense still is to the success of this team, which remains without a QB? That coordinator spot could be the second-most vital move of the offseason for Nagy. One that could determine whether he saves his job. Promoting Rodgers is certainly an idea. However, it comes with a lot of risk too since the man has never been a coordinator before. What the head coach really needs is somebody who is relatively sure to keep that defense effective for another year.
Somebody with experience, a proven track record, and knowledge of a 3-4 system.
So it’s rather convenient that longtime defensive coordinator Wade Phillips announced on Twitter his intention to get back into the NFL after spending a year off. The 73-year old may not be a spring chicken anymore, but the man is a legend among defensive coaches. He’s done it for 37 years, posting a top 10 defense 20 times for seven different franchises.
I am ready to retire from retirement! I am ready and available. Let’s win.
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) January 15, 2021
One signature thing he’s known best for? Rapid turnarounds. In 1988, the Denver Broncos had the 22nd ranked defense. In Phillips’ first year with them in 1989? They shot up to 3rd. He took the Saints from 28th to 11th in 1981 and the Texans from 30th to 2nd in 2011.
Matt Nagy can leave the defense in good hands with Phillips
Given his age and history, Phillips isn’t known for lasting long in certain jobs. However, the early returns are almost always good. In his first year with the Denver Broncos in 2015, they had the #1 defense and won the Super Bowl. In his second year with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018, they reached the Super Bowl where they gave up just 13 points against Tom Brady and the Patriots.
One of the quotes that stand out the most from him is something Bears fans will probably like.
“It’s all about what kind of players you have and let them do what they do best.”
To him it’s not the system that determines the players, it’s the players who determine the system. His goal is to find out what his players do best and mold the system to maximize their talents. This is important. One of the frustrations that emerged with Pagano was how often he would ask certain players to do things they’re not accustomed to. Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn dropping in coverage. Eddie Jackson playing near the line of scrimmage.
It too often felt like he wasn’t letting them do what they did best.
That would change with Phillips in charge. Will Matt Nagy place that phone call? A source revealed there is at least some interest from the Bears’ end. Whether they follow through on that or the veteran coach gets scooped by another team remains to be seen. Either way, if he’s hired the odds are pretty good the defense should be able to produce one more solid season.