Emma: In search of next coach and general manager, Bears need to think differently


(670 The Score) When he was hired by the Bears four years ago, Matt Nagy arrived in Chicago with a reputation for offensive innovation but also external wonder about how he'd lead as a first-time head coach.

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As it turned out, Nagy proved to be a strong leader but was ultimately fired by the Bears on Monday – along with general manager Ryan Pace – in large part because of his failures to build a productive offense.

There’s a lesson there for Bears chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips to remember as they've started their search for a new head coach and general manager. It’s of vital importance to recognize more than just a candidate's scheme and philosophy. The Bears also need to assess each candidate's true willingness to adapt and be different. To borrow a phrase from Nagy, the Bears must understand the whys behind their mistakes.

Arguably the greatest failing of Nagy and Pace during their respective tenures in Chicago was their inability to think beyond their previous beliefs. They each continually operated based on convictions from their past rather than changing their view when needed. The collaboration between Nagy and Pace produced stale, stubborn decisions.

Nagy's mentor was future Hall of Fame coach Andy Reid, as he first worked under him in Philadelphia and later followed him to Kansas City. When Nagy landed in Chicago, he hoped to replicate what has made Reid successful. Nagy was hired in part to develop young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, but rather than designing schemes that suited the strengths of Trubisky and the Bears personnel, Nagy was dead set on implementing a Reid-like offense. Trubisky wasn't a good fit.

The disconnect between Nagy and Trubisky grew over time. It led to the Bears letting Trubisky go after the 2020 season, and Nagy's dismissal followed earlier this week.

As for Pace, he cut his teeth with the Saints over 14 years, first as an intern in 2001 before rising through their scouting department to director of player personnel. He experienced an era of success in New Orleans led by star quarterback Drew Brees, who brought the Saints their long-coveted Super Bowl championship after the 2009 season.

When Pace took his first big swing at quarterback in 2017, he was set on finding the next Brees. In selecting Trubisky, he saw a few similarities to Brees, but that line of thinking kept Pace narrow-minded in a draft class that included a future superstar in Patrick Mahomes.

As McCaskey, Phillips and their search team begin interviewing candidates for the Bears, they'd be wise to put an emphasis on the depth and diversity of each individual's resume. More experiences help create a more adaptable, progressive coach.

The Packers' Matt LaFleur has become the first coach in NFL history to win 13 games in each of his first three seasons. He worked with five colleges and five NFL teams before landing in Green Bay.

The Bears are scheduled to soon interview Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, whose time in the NFL since 2000 has included work as a defensive assistant, wide receivers coach, quarterbacks coach, tight ends coach and offensive coordinator. He understands well how each position functions within a particular play call and has proved it as the offensive coordinator for four NFL teams.

Daboll, 46, has won five Super Bowl rings alongside Patriots coach Bill Belichick and a national championship as offensive coordinator for Alabama coach Nick Saban. In Buffalo, he has led an offense that ranked third in scoring and fifth in yardage in 2021 by fitting his scheme to his players. Bills quarterback Josh Allen has emerged as one of the top players in the game under Daboll's watch.

Daboll is just one example of a candidate with a deep, thorough resume. While many coaches hired directly from the Reid or Belichick trees fail, Daboll seems that he could be an example of successfully branching out.

To the credit of McCaskey, Phillips and perhaps Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian, who's working as a consultant in the team's search, the Bears’ list of candidates for coach and general manager include unique backgrounds.

McCaskey promised a search process that wouldn't hold bias to any particular background or philosophy, which is the right way of approaching it. But the Bears also need to consider their mistakes of the past in these new hires.

Because that will help the Bears recognize why a candidate for coach or general manager will dare to be different.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.