During an appearance on the Bears All-Access radio show, new head coach Matt Nagy expressed excitement about being able to land the three coordinators he added to his staff.
Since being named the 16th head coach in Bears history Jan. 8, Nagy has hired Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator, retained Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator and hired Chris Tabor as special teams coordinator.
"Having those three guys, they were all really No. 1 on my board throughout," Nagy said Wednesday night on WSCR-AM 670. "To be able to get all three of those guys is really just an awesome feeling and everyone is just so excited."
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As head coach the University of Oregon, Helfrich led the Ducks—known for their explosive record-setting offense—to a 37-16 record in four seasons from 2013-16, including a 24-12 mark in the Pac-12.
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. As a result, Helfrich was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson and Maxwell Football Club Coach of the Year awards.
Also that season, quarterback Marcus Mariota became the first Oregon player to win the Heisman Trophy. A few months later, Mariota was selected by the Tennessee Titans with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
"As far as Mark Helfrich, here's a guy who's been in the college world," Nagy said. "It's a little bit different than in the league. But I was really intrigued by the stuff that they do out there. I was intrigued talking to Mark; just some of our philosophies and him knowing what we do offensively and being able to kind of get to a point to where we can kind of mesh some things together and see how it works. So it's been a really neat transition for him. It's been great for me learning more about him and what they do and what they did at Oregon and his philosophy in his career, so I'm really looking forward to that."
Retaining Fangio was a major coup for Nagy. Fangio has helped the Bears defense showed marked improvement over the past three seasons.
Fangio helped transform a unit that had ranked 30th in the NFL in total yards in each of the two years before he arrived into a defense that finished 14th in 2015, 15th in 2016 and 10th in 2017. This past season Fangio led a unit that ranked ninth in the league in fewest points allowed and recorded 42 sacks, the second most by the Bears in the past 20 years.
Fangio's performance in 2017 was even more impressive given that he lost several key players throughout the season. Among those who finished the year on injured reserve were safety Quintin Demps; outside linebackers Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee and Willie Young; inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman; and defensive end Mitch Unrein.
"When I went through the process here, one of the biggest hires for me and making sure things would work out the right way and do it the right way was taking care of the defensive side of the ball with coach Fangio," Nagy said.
"What a successful defense last year that he ran and those guys did such a great job, so that was important just to sit down with him, get to meet him as a person and listen to his philosophy, kind of explain my philosophy, see if it works and it did. We had a great conversation. I just have a world of respect for coach and I'm really excited for that part of it."
In Tabor, the Bears hired a special teams coordinator who spent the last seven seasons in the same role with the Cleveland Browns.
During Tabor's tenure in Cleveland, the Browns were the only NFL team to have earned at least one AFC Special Teams Player of the Week award each season from 2011-2016. In total, the Browns won seven AFC Special Teams Player of the Week awards.
Tabor also helped kicker Phil Dawson and return specialist Joshua Cribbs both reach the Pro Bowl in 2012, marking just the second time in team history that two specialists made the annual all-star game in the same year.
Nagy hasn't worked with Tabor before but the Bears coach said that he "had a lot of good friends and coaches and colleagues say such good things about him as a coach and as a person."