Count Bears chairman George H. McCaskey among those who have felt the energetic new vibe that first-year coach Matt Nagy has brought to Halas Hall.
“He’s got an enthusiasm, a dynamism, a confidence, a leadership quotient that’s really exciting to see,” McCaskey said this week at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando. “That’s probably what I’m most excited about.”
McCaskey has faith that Nagy will thrive as Bears coach chiefly due to the confidence the chairman has in the man who hired Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace.
“The biggest reason is because Ryan believes in him so strongly,” McCaskey said. “He identified him as a leading candidate early in the process and he held that position throughout the process. I think Ryan set it up so that we would be interviewing Matt last and I liked the way that worked out.
Bears chairman George H. McCaskey has confidence in new head coach Matt Nagy.
“He was just very impressive from the get-go. You’ve seen it already; very dynamic presence, very confident leader, an innovator. We’re looking forward to him doing great things for the Bears.”
Nagy takes over a Bears team that finished last in the NFC North each of the past four years with records of 5-11, 6-10, 3-13 and 5-11. It’s the first time the franchise has had four straight double-digit losing seasons since 1997-2000.
McCaskey is eager for the Bears to contend for a championship, but he knows that it’s not an overnight process.
“The goal every year is to win the Super Bowl,” McCaskey said. “You saw what happened with the Eagles last year. They came together. They got it done. It’s something that we’d love to see, but we understand also that Matt will take time to grow into his role, and finding the right composition of the team takes time.”
Rewarding your own: McCaskey is happy with a free-agent class that has earned Pace praise throughout the league. Since the start of the new league year, the Bears have signed seven players from other teams: receivers Allen Robinson (Jaguars) and Taylor Gabriel (Falcons), tight end Trey Burton (Eagles), quarterbacks Chase Daniel (Saints) and Tyler Bray (Chiefs), outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (49ers) and kicker Cody Parkey (Dolphins).
Nonetheless, McCaskey is looking forward to the day when the Bears will spend the offseason re-signing their own key players.
“Ryan knows what’s expected of him,” McCaskey said. “I’ve told Ryan over the years that eventually we should get to the point where we’re not very active in free agency. He should be criticized by the experts for not being more active in free agency because we’re developing our guys and rewarding our own guys.”
Whatever it takes: Throughout their history, the Bears have traditionally been known for their rugged defense. That seems to be changing now that they’ve hired an offensive-minded head coach to work with a promising young quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky—and that’s just fine with McCaskey.
“Whatever it takes to win the Super Bowl,” McCaskey said. “It’s become much more of a passing league, but I still think the adage applies that defense wins championships. When the Bears were the Monsters of the Midway [in the 1940s], they had a pretty darn good offense. Whatever it takes to win.”
Speaking of Trubisky, McCaskey likes what he has seen and heard from the 2017 first-round draft pick since the end of last season.
“He knows that a lot of people are counting on him,” McCaskey said. “He seems to be stepping into that role and handling it the way you would hope and expect him to.”
Catch this: Under the new catch rule that NFL owners adopted this week, the touchdown reception by Bears tight end Zach Miller that was reversed following a replay review last season in New Orleans would stand as a catch.
Under the new rule, a receiver needs only to control the ball with two feet or another body part down while making a football move such as taking a third step or extending the ball. The new rule eliminates the need for the receiver to maintain possession of the ball through the ground.
Regardless of the change, McCaskey is convinced that Miller’s TD should not have been overturned. “It was a catch under the old rule,” McCaskey said, “and it’s going to be a catch under the new one.”