In the aftermath of the Chiefs’ crushing 22-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, Chiefs coach Andy Reid has repeatedly refused to divulge who called the plays in the second half as the Chiefs blew an 18-point lead.
But during his introductory news conference in Chicago as the Bears’ new head coach, former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy provided some clarity on Tuesday.
“I called every single play in the second half,” Nagy said. “That’s a learning situation for me. I’ve gone back, I’ve looked at it. There’s scenarios where I wish I would have made some different choices with the playcall. But that was a failure in my book, for me.
“But I’ll grow from it, and I’ll learn from it, I promise you that. I’ll use that as a strength here for me with the Chicago Bears.”
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That’s not to say Reid didn’t have influence. Even when Nagy earned a larger play-calling role with the Chiefs in early December, Reid still had a hand in putting the game plan together and calling plays.
Nagy said he could have done a better job accounting for the loss of Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce, who left the game at the end of the second quarter with a concussion and did not return. The Chiefs ran the ball on eight of their 22 plays after halftime, despite holding the lead, and gained a mere 61 yards.
“You lose a player like Kelce, you’ve got to adapt,” Nagy said. “I know that our offensive staff supports me, Coach Reid supports me, but I called every play in that second half. I stand by it, and I promise you I’m gonna learn from it.”
Nagy, 39, spent the rest of the news conference thanking Reid and several members of the Chiefs’ coaching staff for helping him get to this point.
“Coach Reid, my mentor, the best,” said Nagy, who added that Reid taught him to be detail-oriented. “Words don’t do it justice. He’s my guy. I learned how to be a better coach, for sure, but I learned how to be a better person, a better man. And all and all, that’s what this is all about, is being a better person, better man, and you’ll be a better coach because of that.”
Nagy also thanked assistant head coach Brad Childress, with whom he shared offensive coordinator duties in 2016. Childress has been in Kansas City with Reid since 2013.
“My partner in crime,” Nagy said of Childress. “Every day, just telling stories and being there for me, being there with me. He has a special place in my heart, and I just thank him from the bottom of my heart.”
Nagy also thanked Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, his college teammate at Delaware, and quarterback Alex Smith. Nagy, Reid and Childress helped guide Smith to a career-best season in 2017.
“He was special to me,” Nagy said of Smith. “We built a great relationship. He helped me grow as a coach, as a person, as a leader, and I just want to thank him for that.”
He also mentioned rookie Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose rawness in Reid’s offensive system forced Nagy to grow as a coach.
“He was coming in as a rookie, it’s a different way to teach for me, but that was good,” said Nagy, now charged with guiding the Bears’ prized rookie quarterback, No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky. “It brought that out of me to understand ... he doesn’t know the concept of this play, (like) the flanker drive Texas halfback wide ... whereas Alex can do it in his sleep.
“So it made me a better person, it made me a better coach. And to see the dynamics of how Alex handled himself with a first-round draft pick in Patrick, and the way Patrick handled himself with Alex, thats something I’ll take with me ... the respect for one another, and the trust in one another, how that was built over time.”
On Tuesday, both Veach and Reid released statements supporting Nagy as he tries to return the moribund Bears to prominence. The franchise has not had a winning season since 2012.
“I’m proud of Matt and the tireless amount of selfless work he put in to earn this opportunity,” Reid said. “He has a creative football mind and feel for the game. I know he’ll show up every day ready to lead his team with the right attitude and give Chicago everything he’s got. I’m excited to see him begin his career as a head coach in this league, and I know he’ll have great success with the Bears organization.”
“I have known Matt for more than 20 years as a friend, teammate and colleague,” Veach said. “I was with him when he started his journey in the NFL, and to see him climb the ranks and achieve his goal of becoming a head coach is outstanding. Matt is passionate and motivated, and as a former player he has a great feel for the locker room. Chicago is not only getting a great coach, they are getting a tremendous husband and father. I’m excited for Matt, Stacey and their boys. He’ll be a great addition to the Chicago Bears organization and the community."