For the second time in a little more than a calendar year, coach Matt Nagy is tabbing his friend and longtime NFL coach Brad Childress as a consultant/offensive assistant on the Bears’ staff, NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero reported Friday.
Childress, the Aurora native and former Vikings head coach, was a colleague of Nagy’s on Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs staff from 2013 to 2017, when he and Nagy were co-offensive coordinators in 2016 and Childress was the assistant head coach the next year.
Childress initially was hired as part of Nagy’s Bears staff in February 2018, but he left in April to become a head coach in the start-up Alliance of American Football. However, Childress resigned from his post in January before coaching his first game with the Atlanta Legends.
Childress compiled a 39-35 record from 2006 to 2010 in Minnesota, where he guided the Vikings to a pair of division titles and the NFC Championship Game after the 2009 season. And, NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo said, that Vikings connection could loom large as Childress returns to Chicago: Adrian Peterson might be an option in the Bears’ backfield if he doesn’t re-sign in Washington.
The Bears are engaged in trade discussions regarding lead back Jordan Howard, but there’s no clear replacement on the roster. The soon-to-be 34-year-old Peterson, who rushed for 1,042 yards last season in Washington, theoretically could take the reins from Howard as Nagy’s preferred between-the-tackles runner. However, that potential fit is more than a little curious with the future Hall of Famer 10 years older than Howard and every bit as limited as a receiver.
Peterson has averaged only 20.9 receptions a season in his illustrious career and always has been replaced on third downs. On one hand, the Bears have one of the best third-down backs in the game in Tarik Cohen. But on the other, Howard has averaged more receptions annually than Peterson (24), and his receiving shortcomings are the chief reason the Bears would look to replace him.
Indeed, what’s been a puzzling situation with the Bears and Howard remains that way in light of this strange report. General manager Ryan Pace has worked hard to build a younger roster, one with true values in his backfield. It’s not that Peterson, who signed in August for the veteran’s minimum after a knee injury to second-rounder Derrius Guice in Washington, would require breaking the bank. It’s the potential football fit that is hard to see.
It’s true that Childress drafted Peterson in Round 1 way back in 2007 and that the two made sweet music together, averaging more than 1,445 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns over their four seasons. But not only was that an eternity ago, it was in a power-based, north-south run scheme, not the horizontal zone system preferred by Nagy.
The understanding was that the Bears were looking to become more multiple and dynamic in their run game, subsequently opening things through the air. Remember, it wasn’t until the Saints traded Peterson two seasons ago that Alvin Kamara truly burst onto the scene en route to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Peterson will be a lock first-ballot Hall of Famer five years after he ultimately retires. But his potential introduction into the Bears’ offense only would seem to limit further what the imaginative Nagy can draw up.
As for Childress’ addition, it makes plenty of sense, assuming that he sticks around after changing professional gears abruptly twice over the past 13 months. The more experienced coaches Nagy can add to his staff, the better, especially as the reigning Coach of the Year tries to build on last year’s ahead-of-schedule division title.
“We’re 0-0 now,” Nagy said at least week’s NFL scouting combine. “So that’s going to be my biggest challenge as the head coach is to make sure that there’s no complacency and our guys realize that we’re now the hunted.”