McMullen: Don’t Expect Matt Nagy to be a Friend
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - On the surface Matt Nagy being the key to the Eagles' playoff hopes may seem like a good thing.
Nagy, after all, has a lot in common with Doug Pederson. Both are Andy Reid acolytes who served together on coaching staffs in Philadelphia and Kansas City and they are good friends off the football field.
For Philadelphia to still be playing in January this season the Eagles have to win in Washington Sunday and hope Nagy's Chicago Bears can knock off the Vikings in Minneapolis. The former there is likely with the Redskins seemingly off the rails and cutting one of their best players, safety D.J. Swearinger, for taking aim at the coaching staff one too many times. The latter, however, is much murkier although also somewhat likely if Chicago decided to try to win the football game.
Pederson even admitted lobbying his buddy earlier this week.
"I might," the coach answered when asked about calling Nagy. "Maybe I've done that, we'll have to see. Maybe I've already done that this morning."
So the $64,000 question here is will the Bears really try to beat Vikings?
From an old-school standpoint, the answer to that is in the affirmative because Chicago still has an opportunity to earn a first-round bye if its able to win and the Los Angeles Rams lose in the Coliseum against Nick Mullens and the San Francisco 49ers.
The problems come in when you realize that Nagy isn't Mike Zimmer and is more of a new school coach every mindful of probabilities and putting his team in the best position to succeed.
Nagy is well aware of the odds that a bad 49ers team led by a player who started the season as the third-string QB beating a really good team with something to play for on the road isn't exactly something popping Nate Silver's probability models.
So from there, it's about the first-round opponent and who would you rather face. Some have argued that the Bears would not want to see a rival for the third time in a season, again an old-school thought process.
For Nagy, this will be about styles making fights. The strength of Chicago is a defensive front which could dominate anyone while the weakness of the Vikings is one of the game's poorest offensive lines. Conversely, the Eagles offensive line is one of the NFL's best that could at least hold its own against anyone, especially if it brings its A-level effort on a particular game day.
On the other hand, the strength in Minnesota is its defense which can give even experienced QBs more than a few headaches and the Bears are still going through some growing pains with second-year signal caller Mitchell Trubisky. Meanwhile, while Jim Schwartz isn't exactly rolling out Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes from a talent perspective the Eagles have improved immensely in the defensive backfield since the return of Avonte Maddox and have a front that could torture Trubisky.
A final fly in the Nagy's ointment could be Seattle losing to Arizona and the Vikings leaping the Seahawks, again a very unlikely scenario, however.
If Nagy is trying to manipulate the board to give his team the best chance for success in two weeks the Eagles are in trouble on Sunday.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen