New Bears coach Matt Nagy is tabbing former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich as his new offensive coordinator, according to multiple reports. The hire is a great example of the “innovative” and “outside the box” thinking that appealed to general manager Ryan Pace when he chose Nagy.
Helfrich, 44, was the Oregon head coach from 2013 to ‘16, after four years of being the Ducks’ quarterbacks coach-offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly. There, he cut his teeth in Kelly’s spread, breakneck offense – whose ideas were incorporated into the Chiefs’ offense under Andy Reid and Nagy last season.
Helfrich should be particularly helpful for No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky, who exclusively ran a spread in his 13 starts at North Carolina. And Helfrich’s head-coaching experience should assist Nagy, a first-time NFL head coach and full-time play-caller who’ll be able to lean on Helfrich’s background as he acclimates to a new position.
Under Helfrich, the Ducks were 37-16, making three consecutive bowl appearances, before the bottom fell out in 2016 after the departure of Marcus Mariota. He has 20 years of experience at the college level but will coach in the NFL for the first time.
Helfrich’s arrival signals that Nagy will continue to meld Reid’s West Coast scheme with spread principles, including run-pass options and utilizing every inch of the field, not every second on the play clock.
It also signals the Bears’ need to add speed and dynamic playmakers after the catch to an offense that was severely lacking in both areas, except for rookie sensation Tarik Cohen, whose upside is exciting with the new creative offensive minds on board.
Helfrich is Nagy’s fourth reported coaching hire and the first without ties to Lovie Smith’s Bears staff. But he’s the second arrival from the college ranks, joining former Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, whose securing by Nagy on Thursday was met with rave reviews.
Nagy’s strong early work in assembling his staff is a likely byproduct – and beneficial one – of being the first of six clubs to hire a head coach this offseason. Nagy got a jumpstart on the competition, and he’s already off and running.