JOURNEY TO LIII: A year to the day, Matt Nagy gets another playoff shot

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 30: Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy (C) takes the field after the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Bears defeated the Vikings 24-10, knocking them out of playoff contention. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

LAKE FOREST – It was a year ago that the path to Chicago began for the coach, though it came during one of his more painful moments in his career.

Funny how fate works out.

Matt Nagy’s worst moment came on January 6th, 2018. Just 48 hours later, he got a major career promotion. Now a year later, on January 6, 2019, Nagy’s on the field for his biggest coaching moment to date.

“This is where it gets real, and it’s exciting to have one at home, and again, I’m going to just let everybody know here in Chicago how important it is to get those fans to be as crazy as they have ever been, and I can’t wait for it,” said Nagy of the playoff game.

Nagy probably couldn’t wait to get off the field after his last playoff game that came a year before at Arrowhead Stadium when he was the offensive coordinator of the Chiefs, when an injury and a miserable second half brought his season to an early end. After taking a 21-3 lead in the AFC Wild Card game against Tennessee at home, Nagy lost tight end Travis Kelce late in the first half, and the offense collapsed.

They couldn’t put up a point the final 30 minutes, and Titans scored 19-unanswered to win it 22-21. It was a quick exit that put Nagy’s playcalling into the spotlight, yet it didn’t deter the Bears, who interviewed him Sunday, and had him hired that Monday.

“There was one call, I don’t even remember, because I haven’t watched it in a year, but I think there was one call that I might have wanted back, and it ended up being a call where we lost some yards on a run call,” said Nagy when there was anything he regretted about his play calling in the second half.  “But I don’t remember the exact situation, but I think there was one call in there that I really felt, I could have been better there.”

Specifics aren’t the priority for Nagy as he gets ready for his first playoff game as a head coach, one year to the day of that forgettable second half against the Titans. It’s all about taking lessons from that experience and moving on to bigger and better things in these playoffs in Chicago.

“You learn from any criticism, you learn from any self-criticism that you give yourself, and you learn from when you do things the right way, you do them, you try to keep doing, what you’re getting to is the whole thing, you didn’t run the ball enough in that game,” said Nagy. “I always self-reflect and there’s times where, okay, how can I be better in these type of situations. I’m using any of those experiences for me to make myself a better coach for the players, so for me, I just — I think it all circles back to me just trusting in myself and believing in what I feel is the right thing to do, and you know, just our coaches and everybody together.

“So every instance is different and you’ve just got to go with your gut feeling.”

He’ll do so a year later Sunday, with hopes that he can lead his team to 60 great minutes of football and a spot in the NFC Divisional Playoffs.


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