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Nagy hopes new staff sparks offensive revival

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INDIANAPOLIS – Determined to improve an offense that regressed in 2019, Bears coach Matt Nagy completely revamped his coaching staff.

Last month Nagy hired offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, offensive line coach Juan Castillo and tight ends coach Clancy Barone, and promoted Dave Ragone from quarterbacks coach to pass game coordinator.

Nagy is hoping the changes will boost an offense that ranked 29th in the NFL in both scoring (17.5 points per game) and total yards (296.8) last season. It was a sharp decline from 2018, when the Bears finished 10th in scoring (25.6) en route to winning the NFC North title with a 12-4 record.

"We know offensively we struggled in a lot of different areas, but we're about fixing it," Nagy said Tuesday at the NFL Combine. "If we're OK with what we did last year, then we're in the wrong place—and we're not. We've got to fix things, and so how do we do that? We get good minds together that talk it through.

"We're real with each other: 'This wasn't a good play. This wasn't about the player; this was about the coaches.' When you can do that and show accountability, you continue to build that trust. And so our goal is to be a lot better offensively, and if that's 'less is more,' then great. Whatever that is, we'll work that way all the way to training camp with all of those coaches."

For those who may wonder whether the Bears now have too many voices on the offensive side of the ball, Nagy has a quick retort.

"People [ask], 'Are there too many cooks in the kitchen' and all that," Nagy said. "I couldn't disagree with that more. For us, I think there's a lot of great ideas.

"I want to become the best possible head coach I could be. And to do that, having guys around me that I can delegate and give things to is important. I'm doing a lot of listening and I think now is the time to do that so we can collaborate, figure out what went wrong last year and let's fix it. Let's be about solutions."

Lazor joins the Bears with 13 years of NFL experience, primarily as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He has excelled working with quarterbacks Nick Foles in Philadelphia, Ryan Tannehill in Miami and Andy Dalton in Cincinnati.

"With Bill Lazor, it's been exciting in the last couple of weeks of being able to go through the scheme eval and go through some things and get some ideas and his background of where he's been a coordinator and his expertise with that," Nagy said.

DeFilippo boasts 20 years of coaching experience, including 13 in the NFL. His most impressive feat came in 2017 when he helped Foles replace the injured Carson Wentz late in the season and lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship.

"I have a lot of respect for him as a quarterbacks coach," Nagy said. "He's a guy that comes in as a quarterbacks coach that's going to be real big with drill work, with fundamentals, with really seeing the field. And we talked about that with Mitch [Trubisky], with processing, with being able to understand that. [DeFilippo] is an expert in that.

"I like his aggressiveness as a teacher. With all different positions, sometimes you can say, 'We're going to take the gloves off and we're going to get at it now.' I think that 'Flip' in his DNA has that, and you'll see that and you'll take notice of that."

Castillo has spent 24 seasons coaching in the NFL with the Eagles (1995-2012), Ravens (2013-16) and Bills (2017-18). He worked with Nagy from 2008-12 on Andy Reid's staff in Philadelphia. Castillo most recently served as offensive line coach and run game coordinator with the Bills. In his two seasons, Buffalo ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing in 2017 (126.1 yards per game) and fifth in 2018 (124.0).

"He's been doing this a long time," Nagy said. "His expertise in football is second to none. I have a lot of respect for him and how he does things. Just the last several weeks that we've been together talking scheme-wise, it just feels really good."

Barone boasts 32 years of coaching experience, his first 17 at the collegiate level and the last 15 in the NFL. As a tight ends coach, Barone has had four players voted to the Pro Bowl with four different teams: the Falcons' Alge Crumpler, the Chargers' Antonio Gates, the Broncos' Julius Thomas and the Vikings' Kyle Rudolph.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace has enjoyed watching the new staff mesh together.

"It's been awesome," Pace said. "Our whole motto is: 'No egos and whatever is best for the team.' I think it's very collaborative. That's the word that keeps coming up. It's early, but those guys are all like-minded. I think it's been strong."

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