Nagy builds Bears staff with teachers


As new Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy rounds out his initial coaching staff, a reoccurring theme shines through. Each of the new assistants brought on board have reputations as strong teachers of the game.  With some positional coaches yet to be named, the makeup of the staff demonstrates a blend of experience and youth.

Nagy’s first win was retaining Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio. Fangio’s decision to remain with the Bears on a three-year contract gives both credibility and continuity to Nagy and the franchise. While there is work to be done on that side of the ball, the defensive unit has improved measurably from what Fangio inherited. He’ll have an opportunity to further develop a young corps that includes Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman, Eddie Jackson, and Akiem Hicks, among others. It is hoped that several of Fangio’s defensive assistants, including secondary coach Ed Donatell, return.

Offensively, Nagy, who plans to call his own plays, lured former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich to the professional ranks with the job of Offensive Coordinator. Helfrich guided the Ducks program after serving as Chip Kelly’s top offensive assistant when Kelly bolted to the NFL with Philadelphia.  Known as an gifted strategist and innovative mind, Helfrich’s offenses regularly ranked among the top scoring and yard producing units in the NCAA. In 2014, Helfrich guided Oregon to a school-record 13 wins, a Pac-12 championship, a Rose Bowl victory in the inaugural College Football Playoff semifinal and an appearance in the CFP national championship game. He also helped tutor future Titans signal caller Marcus Mariota into a highly sought after pro prospect, which resulted in Tennessee selecting the former Oregon QB with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Landing Offensive Line coach Harry Hiestand, considered one of the game’s finest technicians in either college or pro, was another feather in Nagy’s cap. Hiestand returns to Chicago after serving on former Bears coach Lovie Smith’s staff. Since then, he’s coached in college at Tennessee and Notre Dame, developing a slew of first-round lineman such as the Cowboys Zach Martin, Ronnie Stanley of the Ravens, and current highly coveted prospects Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey.  Former Bears Center Olin Kreutz described Hiestand as the best coach he ever had and lauded Hiestand’s ability to relate to players and maximize their potential.

New Wide Receivers coach Mike Furrey possesses experience at all levels, having played in the NFL, Arena League and even XFL, and coached in small-college. He was a self-made player known for his intelligence, versatility, and work ethic, traits that should prove beneficial in working with one of the Bears weakest links in terms of talent and production.

Special teams Coordinator Chris Tabor also returns to Chicago after serving as the Browns special teams coach the last seven seasons. Tabor’s Browns units were one of that club’s few bright spots, and he hopes to rebuild Bears special teams units that have been widely inconsistent over  the last several seasons, especially in regard to coverage and return teams. Tabor was Dave Toub’s assistant with the Bears from 2008-2010.

Lastly, Running Backs coach Charles London makes his second trip to Chicago in his professional coaching career. During his first stint with the Bears, London served as a quality control coach on offense in 2007 and an assistant receivers coach in 2008-09 under Lovie Smith.  He spent the last four years on Bill O’Brien’s staff in Houston, serving as Running Backs coach.  London followed O’Brien from Penn State, where he worked in 2012-13. London inherits a solid unit that includes Jordan Howard, multi-dimensional Tarik Cohen, and versatile Benny Cunningham, but that could become more consistent.

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