One of the changes the Kansas City Chiefs made during the offseason was to return Matt Nagy to the offensive coaching staff.
Nagy had been an assistant under Andy Reid for his final five years as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles — and then joined the Chiefs staff when Reid came to Kansas City, serving as the quarterbacks coach for three years before becoming offensive coordinator for two seasons. He spent the last four years as head coach of the Chicago Bears — and has now returned to his original Kansas City role as quarterbacks coach.
“It’s been a really cool experience for me,” Nagy told reporters on Thursday. “When you go away, and you are able to kind of build your own culture from what you learned [during your] time here with coach Reid and all of our great coaches here, you have highs and lows — and you learn. You have so many different hats that you put on in that time — [and] you learn a lot. You rely on the experiences that you went through; they’re real-life experiences.”
Nagy said that his experience in Chicago has helped him a great deal.
“It really allows you to grow,” he said, “but it puts things into perspective. And I think in life, for me, a lot of [the] failures that I’ve had, I’ve tried to the best of my ability to make me better — whether it was as a player, throwing a pick and learning from it, or as a coach as you go through things. You want to use those experiences to make you better in the long run. I feel like I’m still young in this profession. I want to use my experiences in Chicago to make me better for our team here in Kansas City — with coach Reid, with EB (Eric Bieniemy), with Patrick [Mahomes], with Brett Veach and everybody here.”
Nagy acknowledged that it’s a little strange to go from being the head man to one of the assistants.
“There’s a little bit of humility that you have to have to do this,” he noted, “but I really cherish it — because you’re doing it with really good people. I say, ‘We’re back in the weeds.’ Instead of 250 people, you’re responsible for, you’re responsible for three or four. My son was saying the other day, ‘Dad, it’s pretty crazy. You’ve got a little bit more free time.’ That’s real. But I’m embracing that.”
There has been some concern that there would be some friction between Nagy and offensive coordinator Bieniemy, who was the team’s running backs coach during the two years that Nagy served as coordinator. But in their Thursday remarks, none of the people involved gave any hint that this has been taking place.
Reid said that Nagy and Bieniemy like and respect each other.
“I think that the respect that the guys have for each other is the main thing,” he said. “I could tell you that there’s no friction, jealousies or any of that going on. I didn’t think it would [happen] — and it hasn’t. They like each other, which helps.”
Reid then pointed out that for NFL coaches, there are what he called “tight spots” on almost a weekly basis — and that sometimes, those can be the cause of fiction within a coaching staff. But he said that’s never been the case with Nagy and Bieniemy.
“There’s never been any friction there,” he said. “I would tell you that it’s been positive since they’ve been together — in whatever role.”
“Nags is my guy,” declared Bieniemy. “Me and Nags stayed in contact the whole time he was a head coach in Chicago. So it’s been great having him back here. Obviously, he’s been a great ear with him having the experience here. Obviously, a lot of things that we’ve done, he’s familiar with [them]. So it’s been fun [and] it’s been exciting. Every day, we talk about something different — whether it was his experience as a head coach or our families interacting and doing things together. So it’s been good — a homecoming.”
Nagy responded in kind.
“I just have so much respect for him as a person — number one — and as a coach,” he said of Bieniemy. “I coached five years with him as a quarterback coach and then as a co-offensive coordinator and then a coordinator. He’s very, very passionate at being a teacher and a leader. He has his own way of how he does it — and I think it’s special.
“I think the beauty of the relationship that we’ve had is that neither one of us have that ego — where you feel like you know more than the other. I come back here in my role that I just came from — and just to be able to see all the great things that have happened here since I’ve been gone, it’s been neat to learn more. And with EB — to see him in this role and how he does things — it’s cool. We just work with one another; we’re together. I’m really excited to work with him for the rest of this year.”
Bieniemy even described Nagy’s time as Bears head coach as a positive thing.
“He brings a lot — because of that experience,” he said. “I mean, when you talk about situational football [and] different situations that he’s been presented, [he is] opening new ideas to us on how to view things — different things on how to scheme and how to attack things. So there are a lot of things that Nags brings to the table — just because of that experience that he has. He’s a hell of a coach — and we just enjoy being around him.”
In fact, Bieniemy insisted that Nagy is simply adding another dimension to the dynamic that has been part of the offensive coaching staff ever since Reid arrived in Kansas City.
“It’s always been a collective deal.” he explained. “We’re always looking for ideas, OK? Obviously, me and Coach are always going to have the final say-so, but we always want collective input. We’re going to ask for collective input from [running backs coach] Greg Lewis. We’re going to ask for collective input from Matt Nagy, [assistant quarterbacks coach] Dave Girardi, [wide receivers coach] Joe Bleymeier [and offensive line] Coach Andy Heck.
“That’s the beauty of what we do. And that’s why I believe we’ve been special over the past decade or so: because of the input that we allow.”