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Hub Arkush: Bears-Eagles are more connected than you might think

January 1, 2019

I left today’s visit with Bears head coach Matt Nagy, realizing there was one great question I didn’t think to ask him.

“Hey Coach, was there any point during the game in Minny yesterday where you said to yourself, ‘I have to win this one for Doug?’”

There will be a significant subplot to the Bears vs. Eagles wild-card game in Chicago on Sunday, running much deeper than the interesting note that an amazing four of the 12 teams in this year’s playoffs will be led by either Andy Reid or branches on his coaching tree.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh’s tenure with Reid in Philadelphia pre-dates the arrivals of Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and Chicago’s Matt Nagy.

But Pederson and Nagy, it seems, formed a rather indelible bond.

Asked Monday if he and Pederson texted Sunday night, Nagy explained, “He is a great friend of mine. I have a ton of respect for him, and we texted last night.”

When asked if any of Pederson’s texts to him included the words thank you, Nagy demurred with a shy grin, but explained, “I have to tell you that when I first got into this league, I was below a quality control coach. I was an assistant to the assistant. And Doug was a quality control coach.

“And then he got the QB (coach) job and then I bumped up and got the quality control job.

“And then he got the offensive coordinator job and I became the quarterbacks (coach). So we keep following this path here.

“So I told him at the owners meetings this past offseason that he got that Super Bowl. I’m trying to follow his lead here.

“I have a ton of respect for him.

“There are more people in that organization other than just Doug (that I appreciate). But Doug and I were hip by hip for six years, and I really think the world of him.”

My best guess would be Nagy had other things than his friend on his mind as his Bears were in the middle of their most impressive performance of his rookie campaign, and I’m also guessing that, in search of one more thing it could screw up, the league office might set off on an investigation if it thought Nagy was doing special favors or giving special preference to one opponent over another.

But it’s hard to imagine it didn’t occur to him at some point leading up to the Vikings game or at some time in the immediate aftermath that helping out his buddy was icing on the cake.

As for other people in that organization Nagy appreciates, it seems the resurrection of the career of Pederson’s Super Bowl MVP quarterback was a tag team effort as well.

As Nagy tells it, when Foles arrived in Kansas City with Reid, Pederson and him, “It was a low point. It was.

“Nick is as good of a human being as you will find. You want to talk about people who do things the right way. He’s somebody who cares about others, somebody who just wants to play for the love of the game. And he was at a low point then.

“Coach Reid has a history of bringing in people who are maybe at a low point and saving and resurrecting their careers. And I love that. I absolutely love that about him.

“And I can still remember the day that Nick and I were in my car together when I picked him up from the airport. He came over to my house and was seeing my kids. And he was just living life a little bit — the things away from football.

“And we got him back up loving the game. And you see what he’s done last year and where he’s at now. So I have tons of respect for him.”

Of course all of this will be locked up and stored away over the coming week until about 7:00 next Sunday night, but it seems certain Sunday’s win over the Vikings meant even a little bit more to Nagy than any of us could have possibly realized.

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