Matt Nagy was named the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year Saturday night at the NFL Honors awards ceremony at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
In his first season as head coach, Nagy led the Bears to a 12-4 record and the NFC North championship in 2018. The team had finished in last place in the division each of the previous four years with records of 5-11, 6-10, 3-13 and 5-11. The Bears won nine of their final 10 regular-season games for the first time since 1985.
“I want to thank the AP for selecting me as the coach of the year for 2018, especially considering the other deserving coaches who had outstanding seasons,” Nagy said. “This recognition is not about me. It is about our coaching staff, our players, the entire organization and the great Chicago Bears fans. We won this together as a family.”
Nagy also was named NFL coach of the year by the Pro Football Writers of America in mid-January. His 12 wins were the most by a first-year coach in Bears history and more than any of the NFL’s other 31 current coaches in their first seasons. In addition, Nagy became the first coach to lead the Bears to a winning record and a postseason berth in his first year since Paddy Driscoll in 1956.
“Every single day that we’ve been together has been confirmation that he is the perfect head coach for this franchise,” general manager Ryan Pace said at his end-of-season press conference. “And it’s just going to get better and better as we go forward. We worked so well together. He’s very natural in this role and we’re very, very fortunate to have him as our head coach.”
Under Nagy’s direction, the Bears went 5-1 against NFC North foes after they were 4-20 versus their division rivals the previous four seasons. They also went 7-1 in regular-season home games, their best record at Soldier Field since the 2005 team also went 7-1.
Nagy won the Coach of the Year Award by a considerable margin, earning 24 of 50 votes. Chargers coach Anthony Lynn finished second with 10 votes, followed by Colts coach Frank Reich with eight.
Nagy is the fifth Bears coach to win the award, joining George Halas (1963 and 1965), Mike Ditka (1985 and 1988), Dick Jauron (2001) and Lovie Smith (2005).
The Bears had eight players voted to the Pro Bowl in Nagy’s first season as coach, the most since they also had eight in 2006, the last year they reached the Super Bowl. The Bears did not have any players selected to the Pro Bowl in 2017.
“As soon as we hired him, I knew he was the right guy,” quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said Dec. 16 after the Bears clinched their first division title since 2010 with a 24-17 win over the Packers. “He’s got that vibe about him that everybody wants to be around him, everybody wants to play hard for him and he really motivates this team.
“Obviously he’s brilliant on offense, but it’s really special the way he brings a group together and motivates them for a common goal. It’s really become a family and he’s a huge part of it.”
The culture that Nagy implemented helped the Bears respond to adversity throughout the 2018 season. They rebounded from a season-opening loss to the Packers with three straight wins, from back-to-back defeats to the Dolphins and Patriots with five wins in a row and from a loss to the Giants with four consecutive victories.
Asked what has impressed him most about Nagy, Pace said: “Just how comfortable he is in his own skin. Just be yourself. Just be you. He has a blueprint from Andy Reid and he respects him, but Matt is just himself. I think the players feel that. Because if you do that every day, it comes off natural and organic and I think it’s very attractive.”
Former Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was named the AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year. Fangio, who left the Bears last month to become head coach of the Denver Broncos, led one of the league’s most dominant defenses in 2018.
The unit topped the NFL in fewest points per game (17.7), takeaways (36), interceptions (27), interception return touchdowns (5), lowest opponent passer rating (72.9) and fewest rushing yards per game (80.0).
Take a look at some of the best gameday photos of coach Matt Nagy's first season with the Bears after being named the AP Coach of the Year for 2018.