LAKE FOREST – Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had the line of the day Thursday when he and the rest of new head coach Matt Nagy’s staff spoke in their formal introduction to the media.
After Nagy and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich spoke first, spreading the positive vibes of a new regime, Fangio looked at a room full of familiar media faces – many of whom asked tough questions during a 14-34 span over three seasons – and quipped, “All right, let’s continue this love fest.”
That got a good laugh, and for good reason. So far, most of Nagy’s hires and retentions – especially in keeping the well-respected Fangio – have elicited equal parts praise and intrigue. The wonder about how the 39-year-old first-time head coach might go about assembling a staff has started to dissipate after a strong start.
But what about the why? As in, why might Fangio stay with the Bears after he was passed up for the head-coaching job? And why would Helfrich, a former college head coach at one of the premier programs in the country at Oregon who never has previously coached in the NFL, want to be an offensive coordinator who isn’t calling plays?
Valid questions, all. And there was at least one common answer: Mitch Trubisky.
Hearing Helfrich say he’s excited to work with Trubisky isn’t shocking. After all, there appears to be plenty of overlap with what Helfrich did at Oregon, what Nagy did on the staff of the Kansas City Chiefs and what the talented Trubisky did in college at North Carolina.
But to hear Fangio, who likely didn’t spend much time coaching the rookie QB this past season, say that Trubisky was among the reasons he chose to return on Nagy’s staff ... well, that’s notable.
And Fangio had more jokes, too.
“I tried to get two things they wouldn’t give me,” he said. “One, to give me a membership over here at Conway Farms. They wouldn’t do that. And to shorten the winters, and they said they couldn’t do that either.”
But then, turning serious, Fangio offered up Trubisky – without being prompted – as a reason he came back.
“Mitchell is a part of the equation,” Fangio said. “Because I think he has a chance to be a really good player, regardless of who is coaching him. So that part was positive.”
Helfrich spent last season as a college football analyst for Fox and hadn’t seen much of Trubisky before getting the job. But since joining Nagy’s staff, Helfrich has been impressed with his first impressions.
“The biggest thing that jumped out to me as I watched him on film is he’s coachable, and you can tell a quarterback is coachable [by] watching his feet and his eyes,” Helfrich said. “And his eyes are deliberate. They’re going [through progressions] from one to two to three.
“The other thing that jumped out was his accuracy and taking care of the football. He had, I think was a three-to-one or maybe even a four-to-one touchdown to interception ratio in college. That works. That’s a good thing. We need to continue that.”
Although Helfrich still is getting acclimated with the Bears, he has had time to talk to Bears players who watched Trubisky navigate his ups and downs of a 5-11 season in which he had a 7-7 TD-INT ratio. Helfrich said Bears offensive linemen already were extolling the virtues of Trubisky’s work ethic.
“When your offensive linemen are talking about how hard your quarterback works, that’s a great sign,” Helfrich said. “So he needs to do that and continue to challenge himself and improve.”
That, too, is a love fest. But it’s also coming from players who know. If Trubisky can help convince both an offensive and defensive coach to be in Chicago, maybe his rookie season showed more than his statistics did.