Nagy and Pace

Common Tie in Chicago Bears Coaching Hires

  • Castillo
  • Chicago Bears
  • DeFillipo
  • Lazor
  • Nagy
  • Pace
By Donnie Zelaya February 28, 2020 0 Comment
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Soon after the Chicago Bears underwhelming 2019 season ended, Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy met the media and announced there would be an “assessment of all areas of the organization”, from the roster, coaching staff, medical and training staff, scouting, etc. Shortly after this press conference offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, tight end coach Kevin Gilbride, and assistant special teams coordinator Brock Olivo were all relieved of their respective duties. While they were the “fall guys” for an injured and under performing roster, Matt Nagy used this as an opportunity to fill the openings with some familiar faces from his past, guys he knows, and guys who are communicators and effective teachers.

Meet the New Hires

New offensive additions Bill Lazor (Offensive Coordinator), John DeFilippo (Quarterbacks Coach), and Juan Castillo (Offensive Line) all are renowned throughout the NFL as outstanding teachers at their respective positions. The “one approach fits all” has long since disappeared from the idea/approach of teaching and people have made absurd amounts of money creating, marketing, and demonstrating a variety of ways to teach. Too often people pick a singular approach to their teaching method which can lead to less than desired results. In an effort to make the Bears offense operate as efficiently as possible, Nagy brought in thesemen to teach his particular style of offensive football more effectively and efficiently.

Juan Castillo

Juan Castillo is the most seasoned of the new hires had his longest tenure with Andy Reid in Philadelphia, but also had stops in Buffalo and Baltimore. The words that most describe his approach is technique and fundamentals. In a nutshell, Castillo is a proponent of doing the “little things” correctly and focus on the basic elements of playing offensive line. Through his intense and focused evaluative process he brings solutions to the deficient areas in his linemen’s game. Footwork sloppy? Here’s a drill for that. Slow out of your stance? Let me show you how to get better with that. Under Castillo’s tutelage his players experienced growth and success and not just the All Pro/Pro Bowl. His joy comes not from seeing his pupils achieve awards, but contributing to their growth as linemen.

“You developed whatever you got, because you didn’t have that many players. I really enjoyed developing players, and I think that’s something that throughout my career at Philadelphia is something that I’ve done, especially college free agents”

This is a nod to his beginnings as the line coach at Division II Texas A&M I and later his first extended stint with the Eagles. He coached up whoever showed up and earned praise from players and coaches alike. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh stated, “I would say Juan is maybe the finest teacher of football in the National Football League. He teaches the game as well as anybody you’re ever going to see, and those guys – they like to work for him.” Getting guys to work for you will go a long way in any field. Any improvement, no matter how small, will help other areas in the Chicago Bears running game.

Bill Lazor

Bill Lazor is another guy who takes the fundamentals and basics approach in his regards to coaching. In the video below (from :15 to 1:00) his approach starts where it should, with “the little details.” Footwork, quick release, arm angle, and follow through are just a few of the basics that lead to continued success for the quarterback.

Combined with his flexible nature in adapting his playbook to fit players and their strengths, Lazor has helped in developing Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton, even Matt Barkley. While this list isn’t “star studded”, the Bears don’t need a miracle worker, they need people who can help identify deficiencies in Mitch Trubisky’s game to unlock the potential Nagy and Pace see in him.

John DeFilippo

That leads us to new quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. Flip, as he is often referred, is known for his film breakdowns as an Eagles assistant and his ability to teach concepts and read progressions efficiently. This breakdown of DeFilippo’s approach tells all you need to know about him:

“Acknowledging that different players come to the same conclusions in different ways is a big part of
learning to teach, and it’s something that teams can know but not implement. It’s good that DeFilippo
started off with that information, and so is the fact that researching player development has been a big part of what he’s done.”

DeFilippo practices what he preaches as well, specifically this excerpt from his time in Philadelphia, “…take something from the meeting room to the field that we had talked about, that gives you as a teacher — that’s what we are as coaches, we’re teachers — that gives you a lot of sense of pride in terms of what you’re doing.”  Trubisky is about to be showered in information and approaches to the offensive playbook in no way he’s ever previously experienced.


If it pays off, and the Bears see the growth many expected in Trubisky last season, Pace and Nagy will and should get as much praise and congratulations as the grief and misery showered on them by fans and media alike for drafting Trubisky in the first place. Whether it is Castillo, Lazor, or DeFilippo, this adage from Benjamin Franklin holds true for all of them, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

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