Head coach Matt Nagy has spent no time dispelling the biggest concern fans had with him, his coaching staff. Nagy has done an objectively impressive job, pulling coaches from different realms of the game to complete his first ever NFL staff.
It started with perhaps the best hire of them all, universally renowned offensive line coach Harry Hiestand. Hiestand, who was with the Bears from 2005-2009, was most recently with the University of Notre Dame. With the Fighting Irish, Hiestand produced ample NFL talent, including Cowboys’ guard Zach Martin and future first rounders Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson.
Hiestand is known in football circles as one of the best offensive line coaches in the world at any level. Olin Kreutz, Hiestand’s former center, raved about Hiestand, saying “put him in a room and just let him coach offensive line football and that’s heaven for him.” Kreutz centered perhaps Hiestand’s most notable team when the 2006 Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI.
Hiestand has another championship game appearance under his belt, losing to AJ McCarron’s Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship game. Despite having a front seven with four future NFL draft picks, including 1st rounder CJ Mosely, Alabama was held to one sack in that game.
Hiestand was soon joined by the team’s new offensive coordinator, former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich. Helfrich, who turned 44 in October, is taking his first ever pro job with Chicago.
Helfrich was a Chip Kelly product, spending three years directly under Kelly at Oregon before taking the reins himself in 2013. There, under heavy punishment due to NCAA violations left behind by Kelly, Helfrich thrived. The Ducks won bowl games in each of his first two years, including the Rose Bowl in his second year. However, in the following BCS championship game, the Ducks fell to Ezekiel Elliott and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Once Helfrich’s offensive coordinator Scott Frost left to take the head coaching gig at UCF, the scholarship loss caught up with him. Helfrich’s final season, 2015, was the worst of his head coaching career. He finished 4-8 and was promptly fired by the school.
Helfrich twice won FootballScoop’s college football National Quarterbacks coach of the year award, in both 2010 and 2012. The Ducks made it to the national championship game despite losing both of their top two quarterbacks.
Helfrich is an imaginative, outside-the-box hire from a head coach who is proving he isn’t afraid to make such hires. It’s unclear just what authority Helfrich will have over the offense, but he will not call plays. Matt Nagy reaffirmed at his introductory press conference that will be his role.
Another former Bears assistant, Charles London, was hired to man the running backs.
London, a college running back at Duke, got his coaching career started with his alma mater. After a couple years at Duke, he joined the Bears as an offensive quality control assistant. London just missed the 2006 Bears squad but did work with now offensive line coach Harry Hiestand for three years. He left the same year as Hiestand, took a year off from coaching, and then joined the Tennessee Titans.
London spent one year with Tennessee before signing on as the running backs coach under Bill O’Brien. O’Brien spent two years in State College, and so did London. He then followed O’Brien to Houston, where he took over as the running backs coach.
London has been with the Texans ever since, coaching such backs as Lamar Miller and Arian Foster. O’Brien decided to part ways with his longtime running backs coach this offseason, leaving him to land in Chicago. It’s unclear what the connection is between London and Nagy, but it is safe to assume that there was a sizeable recommendation from Hiestand.
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Mike Furrey, former NFL wide receiver AND safety, is the last known member of Matt Nagy’s offensive staff, as of publishing. Furrey’s most notable time in the league came with the Detroit Lions, where he corralled 177 receptions over three seasons.
Furrey started his playing career in the XFL, playing for the Las Vegas Outlaws in 2001. After that league folded, Furrey joined the AFL, playing wide receiver for the New York Dragons for two seasons. Furrey was the leading receiver for the Dragons that year, totaling 1055 yards. One of the quarterbacks for the Dragons that year was Matt Nagy.
Furrey then caught on with the St. Louis Rams, totaling 20 receptions in his first year. However, after losing production, he was converted into a free safety. Furrey had 4 interceptions in that season, along with 3 fumble recoveries. That performance earned him a new contract with the Detroit Lions.
In Detroit, Furrey was reconverted to a receiver. He led the NFC in receptions in his first year in Detroit but was relegated to the bench the following two seasons due to the arrival of Calvin Johnson. He only had one more year in the league, playing both receiver and defensive back in Cleveland, before retiring the following season.
Furrey was instantly hired as head coach for Kentucky Christian University. Following two years there, Furrey resigned to become the wide receivers coach at Marshall University, his first Division I job. After three years with the Thundering Herd, Furrey got a job as the head coach of the Limestone College Saints. Despite not having the best success with the Saints, Furrey was able to land his new position with Chicago.
No, this isn’t the long-time Giants offensive coordinator. Rather, it is his son, who is taking his first ever pro job outside of the Big Apple.
Gilbride bounced around the college game for a while prior to landing the Giants job, coaching for Syracuse, Georgetown, and Temple before taking the job of offensive control assistant under his dad.
Gilbride quickly climbed the ladder in New York, becoming the wide receivers coach in 2012. He lasted in that position for two seasons, before being reassigned to the tight ends coach in 2014. He was the tight ends coach until he left to join the Bears.
Gilbride’s most recent notable work was with Evan Engram, who had one of the most productive rookie tight end seasons in a while. Given Nagy’s prowess with tight ends, specifically Travis Kelce, him and Gilbride should be a huge help to Adam Shaheen.
No quarterbacks coach has been formally announced as of yet, two names have been widely speculated as candidates for the position.
Pat O’Hara, the former Texans quarterbacks coach, was the first major rumor to circulate following Nagy’s hire. O’Hara is another guy with heavy Arena League roots, being either a player or coach in the league from 1995 to 2014. O’Hara was the head coach of the New Orleans VooDoo prior to them folding in 2015. When they did, O’Hara got a job on Bill O’Brien’s staff in Houston. He was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2017.
The other rumored name is former Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing. After excelling as a quarterbacks coach prior to 2017, many thought he was a future head coach. However, his time in that capacity was nothing short of a disaster. Following one incredibly underwhelming year, he was let go along with head coach Jack Del Rio. Downing not only has his work with Carr under his belt but was also quarterbacks coach for Matthew Stafford for three seasons.