When Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach, Andy Reid, summoned his friend and former offensive coordinator to come back to the organization as a quarterback coach for Patrick Mahomes a year ago, I expected he’d make an impact. One year later, he’s the new offensive coordinator, and it’s clear his style of coaching, brings a new element to an offense looking to depend on youth and precision.
The Kansas City Chiefs offense has certainly seen many revisions over the last five years since Patrick Mahomes became the starter. Though Matt Nagy missed three of those years as the Head Coach of the Chicago Bears, he’s brought a different approach to the offense than his predecessor, Eric Bieniemy.
In watching him take over the offensive reigns it’s clear he’s engaged with his players. Yes, his primary goal is to work with his multi-talented quarterback, but further, he invests significant time with his receivers, running backs, and linemen. He also has their commanding respect as to the job they need to do on the field under his watch.
Running an NFL offense, even with Mahomes under center, raises the stakes and creates a level of success that is not only expected but demanded. Nagy understands this clearly or he would not have come back to Kansas City a year ago.
In the aftermath of his sudden departure as Head Coach of the Chicago Bears in 2021, he could have cashed their checks, and done another Safari, as he did a year ago before rejoining the Chiefs, but the lure to come back to the organization was a deep dive into his primary reason to return because he wanted to see Mahomes take the next step.
Last year, he did just that by winning his second Super Bowl in four years. Nagy made a huge impact on Mahomes, working with his pocket awareness, and footwork, and acting as a soundboard when, at times, he had different ideas about the offense.
In the end, the trio of Reid, Nagy, and Mahomes, had some struggles a year ago, but in the end, they solved their Rubik’s’ Cube and showed their bond can do amazing things together.
Still, Nagy had to bring his own personality to the team, and if anyone saw him at the Super Bowl parade on stage, well you get the idea that he allows himself to enjoy the moment and have some fun.
In coaching today, that’s a lost art.
Nagy loves being with the guys and being one of the guys. The recent video where he chucked the football nearly 40 yards in the air, and hit the goalposts, as his quarterback does in practice with ease, says all you need to know about what’s inside Nagy.
It’s clear his players have universally transitioned from Bieniemy to Nagy in a short period of time.
Now the fun begins. Nagy is charged with assisting Reid in developing the next Mahomes offense. Gone is the mad bombing aspect that put Mahomes on the map. Instead, Nagy seeks a balanced offense, that relies on precision routes, a stronger running game with a plethora of young players that have talent he hopes to harness.
Last season, the Chiefs had veterans like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Kadarius Toney, who came over in a midseason trade with the New York Giants. This season, JuJu is in New England and Toney is recovering from a recent Meniscus surgery. So that means Nagy must rely on Skyy Moore, Rahsee Rice, Richie James, Justin Watson, and the training camp star to date, Justyn Ross.
Let’s not feel too bad for Nagy because he still has Travis Kelce to count on when it all falls to crap on the field, but even Kelce can’t be on the field every snap. That’s why he’s spent so much time with his receivers since OTA’s began. His premise with that group was to be ready for whatever the situation needs – especially with a quarterback that might be the best at improvising out of the pocket.
However, that’s not his only focus. Thanks to the emergence of Running Back, Isiah Pacheco, and Jerrick McKinnon a season ago, Nagy can call more running plays and screens. He also knows his backs can protect his quarterback in the pocket. With those two on the field, Nagy can bring Deneric Prince along slowly and hope he develops into the type of player that could give Kansas City a three-headed running machine.
With the Chiefs set for their exhibition debut on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, Nagy will keep the game simple. Yet, his job is to evaluate the players to find which ones can be consistent, but also keep an eye on someone that unexpectedly jumps ahead of the competition.
Either way, Nagy will certainly be demanding and getting his message across to prepare his offense to defend their AFC and Super Bowl Title this season. But I suspect at some point before the regular season starts, he’ll throw a few more balls at the goal past and have some fun with the guys.