In the realm of the NFL, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid has cemented his football legacy in not only breeding some of the prolific offenses in the modern era but as a fabled teacher. Though he may never receive the credit as one of the most revolutionary coaches the league has ever seen, he has served as a mentor to some of the leagues most coveted assistants-turned-head-coaches with an impressive track record of both talent and success between them. Andy Reid disciples almost always land a head coaching gig if so they desire to search for one and for good reason.
The Eagles, Panthers, Ravens, Jets (well
First and foremost, offensive ingenuity almost entirely defines Reid’s style. A pioneer in the implementation of college concepts and schemes in modern NFL playbooks, Reid has masterfully merged his traditional west coast upbringing with the high tempo, high creativity play design. And Chicago’s offense, a year off the heels of an archaic Stone Age style offense, has displayed some of the most inventive play calling in both the league and probably in the history the Bears.
Traditionally a run-stomping team, watching a lineman catch touchdowns or a runningback toss dimes to the end zone comes as both incredibly refreshing and a meaningful sign of the times. Reid’s college inspired and slightly bonkers play design has infected modern playbooks and no other coaches pull off these wild trick plays quite like a Reid graduate. With the considerable shift in full swing even from non-Reid coaches to these ideals in order to avoid being left in the dust entirely, Nagy rapidly proved himself as one of the league’s finest play-callers by pure revolution, simply being ahead of the game.
Next to the offensive cleverness flows spectacular quarterback play and development, and much of Nagy’s magic with sophomore and surprising Pro Bowl alternate Mitchell Trubisky drips directly from Reid’s quarterback whispering teachings. Citing “a coach that believed in them” as the deciding factor in a franchise quarterback, Nagy has gone all-in with the former second overall pick, completely rebuilding the offense to fully utilize his rushing ability and erase his shoddy decision making.
Now Nagy had already massively demonstrated his quarterback whispering talent while under Reid and his uncanny ability to extract the best from his quarterbacks almost solely landed the Bears head coaching job. After taking the reigns of a stalling Kansas City offense headlined by the legendarily mediocre Alex Smith in 2017, he had improved Smith’s yards per game average from 178.5 yards to 231.4 yards and brought his interception rate from 2.9 percent to a remarkable 1.4 percent, elevating the former first overall from solid starter to MVP caliber for a season.
Pulling on the teachings of Reid, Nagy has worked similar magic for Trubisky. The UNC product has improved mightily in nearly every major statistical category, showing clear leaps in his development. He went from 182.8 yards per game to 235.4 yards, a 77.5 quarterback rating to 96.0, seven passing touchdowns to twenty-four, and most impressively, exploded into one of the leagues most invigorating rushing quarterbacks. His incredible steps forward allowed for the offense to blossom into the top ten offense it deserves to be.
After a decade under Reid’s lead, even character traits have been rubbed off onto and now define Nagy. Exemplified in the “BE YOU” insignia on the corner of the rookie head coach’s playbook, he emulates Reid through the greatest lesson Nagy received under his lead-“Go out there, be honest, be yourself, and let your personality show.”
Coaches stemming from Reid, at their finest, have always been praised for the Reid-taught offensive imagination, coming from this personality, and coaches outside of the bubble, for the most part, haven’t been able to keep up. Rivera, Pederson, and Harbaugh all helmed some of the finest offensive sets in the NFL but Nagy has frequently taken it to another level, possessing the exclusive wealth of talent to fully realize his wildest offensive visions. And considering the significant upgrade to the offensive talent pool at Nagy’s disposal, Nagy will one day surpass Reid, alongside Harbaugh, by accomplishing the one feat Reid has never done-win a ring.
(Side-note: Pederson may have led the Eagles to an all-time great Super Bowl victory and too has a ring, but purely because he hasn’t had the equivalent and sustained success of Harbaugh, can’t stand eye-to-eye with Reid just yet.)
Though this current season Chiefs probably rank as Reid’s greatest offensive team in a long list of great offenses, the loss of probable All-Pro Kareem Hunt has proven to be a back-breaking loss. Initially Super Bowl favorites, the Chiefs have lost as many games in the past two weeks as they did for the entire first fourteen weeks of the season. Without Hunt, their offensive scoring average plummeted from 36.7 points per game to 31.5 points per game, while their yards per game dropped from 433.7 yards to 406 yards. Though not a startling difference, it has been more than enough to clip the Chiefs below Super Bowl caliber.
Defensively, they have been a mess all season, ranking twenty-eighth in points allowed and second to last in the entire league for yards allowed. Usually, the offense could bail them out by simply outscoring the twenty-eight points the defense allows on average but now without Hunt, the offense has stalled just enough to where Patrick Mahomes just can’t keep up by himself, otherwise omitting the Chiefs from the Super Bowl conversation. But most importantly, losing the elite run game locked Reid out of the elusive ring he has yet to win. Ethics and morals will not be argued here but losing Hunt has undeniably sabotaged Reid’s finest chance at a Super Bowl since 2005.
Now enter Nagy. Controlling the third seed in the NFC that rocked the Rams has the Bears at the forefront of the dark horse Super Bowl contenders. The suffocating defense combined with his Reid-fueled offensive genius almost promise a Super Bowl berth in the coming years so long as he is able to keep the gang together. Inexperience may be the only knock on Nagy’s team but a potential playoff run could provide the hardening necessary for playing deep into January. Only in his first season as a head coach, Nagy has already written his name into Bears history with the most impressive season since the Lovie Smith days.
Considering his room to grow (sometimes growing a tad cute and probably doesn’t incorporate Pro Bowler Jordan Howard enough into the offense) alongside his quarterback’s room to grow, the sky is truly the limit for this Bears team. His gifted game design transformed the Bears from bottom feeders to one of the league’s most dangerous teams. And with zero starters on either side of the ball over the age of thirty and the heavy hitters of the team locked under contracts under at least 2021, the Bears have been built to last.
Every teacher’s dream is for their student to one day surpass them. Though Reid’s impact reverberates through the entire offensive atmosphere of the modern NFL, it will be in his apostles that he will be remembered most. Both Pederson and Harbaugh have a ring, something Reid may never even get close to again. Rivera has more Coach of the Year trophies filling his shelves, with Nagy a current frontrunner for the award and almost a lock for a couple in the coming years. Nagy’s advantage, however, is being surrounded by the excellently constructed roster designed to stick around. Nagy walked into the probably the brightest possible situation for a rookie head coach.
And under the values instilled in him by Reid, he has the potential to not just pass Reid but cement himself among the elite of the long lineage of great Bears coaches. With this already-special season only the start of the Nagy era, the Bears may have unearthed a dynasty leading head coach. But, like the Ravens and Eagles, it all comes back to Reid. Though it may not promise Hall of Fame, it promises something even greater-an endearing legacy deeply ingrained in the coaches who have taken his lessons further than he ever could. Nagy probably will be the better coach at the end of his line but Reid will always be the original. And there will always be value in the original.