Six degrees of Matt Nagy separation: Bears in sync with NFL undergoing QB sea change


Maybe call it “six degrees of QB separation from Matt Nagy”…

By the time the 2018 season starts, the Bears new head coach will have been involved with a surprisingly high percentage of starting NFL quarterbacks: Mitch Trubisky in Chicago, Alex Smith in Washington after a trade from the Chiefs, and Pat Mahomes, Smith’s successor behind center in Kansas City. But wait, there’s more.

Throw in that Nagy was quarterbacks coach under Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson when Pederson was Kansas City’s offensive coordinator (2013-15), and you have a one-off connection between Nagy and Carson Wentz. Too much of a stretch there? OK, maybe, but Nagy was in both Philadelphia and Kansas City during Nick Foles’ times in those two places. And let’s not go to sleep on Chase Daniel, a Chiefs backup in 2013-15 as well as Wentz’s backup in Philadelphia during the 2016 season and who might wind up as Trubisky’s understudy this offseason.

(Of course, there’s the link of Daniel being in New Orleans from 2010-12 when Ryan Pace was a rising Saints personnel guy, and Pace hired Nagy, so…

And 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo went to Eastern Illinois, Pace went to Eastern Illinois, Pace hired Nagy, so Nagy and Garoppolo… naah, that’s a little much, right? OK, fine….)

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But Nagy, Trubisky, Mahomes, Wentz and a handful of others are very much part of a sea change coming for the NFL, one involving the central position – quarterback – of a team and, by extension, of the entire sport.

By the start of the 2018 season, a number approaching half of the NFL could be opening the year with a starting quarterback having three or fewer years in that role, for those teams, or any teams. As it already stands, more than one-fourth of the NFL projects to go into the 2018 season with quarterbacks with three or fewer years as NFL starters:

1-3 NFL seasons completed

Jared Goff                  LA Rams

Deshone Kizer          Cleveland

Jimmy Garoppolo*   San Francisco

Marcus Mariota         Tennessee

Dak Prescott             Dallas

Mitch Trubisky          Bears

Deshaun Watson     Houston

Carson Wentz           Philadelphia

Jameis Winston        Tampa Bay

This includes Garoppolo, who became the 49res starter in his fourth NFL year but with the first three as a little-used backup to Tom Brady. But it does not include quarterbacks coming in via the 2018 draft, projected to have as many as four quarterbacks selected within the first six picks by teams in dire straits at the position (include Cleveland in that mix irrespective of Kizer):

Josh Allen, Wyoming       

Sam Darnold, USC

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Josh Rosen, UCLA

Kirk Cousins could remove one of those in-need teams from the list of ones in the hands (literally and figuratively) of youngsters. But the early-career successes of Goff, Prescott, Wentz, Watson and arguably even Trubisky point to a copycat league growing increasingly comfortable with relative novices leading their teams.

This becomes even more attractive given players being under their rookie contracts vs. veteran ones. Mahomes’ Kansas City contract is four years for a guaranteed $16.4 million, plus a fifth-year option. Alex Smith’s new deal with Washington pays him $17 million for just 2018 alone. Trubisky will cost the Bears $29 million over four years – what Cousins may cost someone for just 2018.

One justified criticism of Pace is that he and the John Fox staff tried to make the Jay Cutler thing work instead of addressing the quarterback position sooner, both financially and developmentally. Old news at this point; right now the Bears with Nagy and Trubisky are right in step with the NFL.

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