The Bears did something on offense!
Whether or not journeyman coach Bill Lazor interests you or not, below you will find reasons to be excited and worried about the new face on this coaching staff.
If you bear with me through the facts and analysis that everybody has said and will repeat until September, I’ll tell you why at the end of the day this hire doesn’t and never really did matter.
No connection to Matt Nagy: Yes, Mark Helfrich sort of fit this criteria, but he and Nagy run a lot of the same schemes. While Lazor does share some similar offensive tendencies, this seems like someone who has a different philosophy with some similarities. Whereas Helfrich had the same philosophy with only a few wrinkles going against the grain.
Great coaching mentors: It’s hard to beat Joe Gibbs when it comes to your first boss in the NFL. Add in offensive genius Mike Holmgren and defensive guru Marvin Lewis, and there’s a lot of knowledge for Lazor to pull from. Even aggressive coaching like the brief, shining star that was Chip Kelly’s 2013 season is accounted for under Lazor’s tenure as an assistant coach. Of course, experience doesn’t win football games by itself, but Lazor has a strong foundation with a lot of different offensive backgrounds.
Good running games: RPO and west coast only works when there’s space in the middle of the field. The easiest way to create that space is with effective play action. Between Clinton Portis and LeSean McCoy in 2005 and 2013 respectively, Lazor knows this first hand.
That’s not to say he was responsible for those, but he’s seen two successful, but different, rushing attacks and even built a solid one with Lamar Miller in Miami. The different skill trees between Portis, McCoy and Miller bodes well in Matt Nagy’s system that works best when multiple backs like Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery get rolling.
Your best QB was who? In 10 years of either being a quarterback coach or an offensive coordinator in the NFL, Lazor’s work with quarterbacks leaves something to be desired. Sure, when your most talented quarterback is up for debate between a veteran Matt Hasselbeck and a veteran Andy Dalton, maybe it’s not all on Lazor.
The other problem when it comes to evaluating Lazor’s work with quarterbacks is his overall hit or miss production. He coached Ryan Tannehill to two season of 4,000+ yards passing and a 2/1 touchdown to interception ratio… but he totally blew it with Jason Campbell. He made Nick Foles millions of dollars off of a magical 2013 campaign, but helped Dalton turn in two underwhelming seasons, where he barely averaged 3,000 yards and only 6.85 yards per attempt (Trubisky’s career average is 6.7).
If there’s one thing this hire needed to do, wasn’t it supposed to cater to the QB position? Lazor definitely has bright spots, but when 2020 and beyond leans heavily on the man under center, Lazor’s resume lacks luster.
Ball don’t lie: In 13 years as an NFL coach, Lazor has three winning seasons with a total record of 81-111. Should an assistant coach be held to his record? Maybe not, but when the majority of your season includes 10 or more losses, coincidences start becoming trends. While fresh blood could have a great impact on an offense that appeared to go stale in 2019, adding blood with that coaching record kind of sounds like volunteering for a blood transfusion with Magic Johnson.
Why so little of this matters
This is Matt Nagy’s offense and Matt Nagy’s team.
I’m of the opinion that Helfrich and Harry Hiestand were scapegoats following an awful offensive outing in 2019. Claiming those two were the reason for the rushing attack’s woes sounds pretty goofy to me since the running game got worse from 2018 to 2019 despite getting the back that Nagy was pounding the table for after missing out on Kareem Hunt.
I say all of that to say while assistants have an impact, with Nagy’s job appearing to be on the line in 2020, I find it more likely that he goes down in a blazing fire of screens and quick slants than trying to hand off play calling duties or significantly changing the offense at the suggestion of Lazor.
Whether you love or hate the hire of Lazor, at the end of the day, this position was always more or less advertised as a placeholder.