Given it was his first season as Bears head coach, Matt Nagy had several responsibilities to juggle as he settled into his new job.
"At that point in time, you put a ton of confidence in your defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, and his staff," Nagy said on a conference call with Rams beat writers Saturday.
That staff included Brandon Staley, who at the time coached the Bears' outside linebackers. Staley is now the Rams defensive coordinator, and two years ago Nagy could see the traits that would make Staley a successful coach.
On September 1, 2018, the Bears acquired star linebacker Khalil Mack in a blockbuster trade with the Raiders, as well as a 2020 second-round pick, in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick, 2020 first-round pick, 2020 third-round pick and 2019 sixth-round pick.
The season opener was in six days, so Staley had to quickly get his newest pupil up to speed in order for Chicago to take full advantage of his talents against Green Bay. Despite the tight window, Mack finished with a strip-sack, pick-six, fumble recovery and three combined tackles in his debut, a narrow 24-23 Bears loss.
"I can remember walking by Brandon's office and seeing him try to get Khalil up to date with the defense ASAP," Nagy said. "Didn't have any training camp and stepped in the first game and had a career game. So just a guy that you could see was really learning a lot through Vic's defense and then taking it and putting his own spin on it, and now elevating it to himself now and doing a great job there in L.A."
One of the other outside linebackers Staley coached that season reunited with him this season in Leonard Floyd, who signed a one-year deal with Los Angeles after Chicago declined to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, making him a free agent.
Nagy said those types of difficult business decisions are made every year by him and Bears general manager Ryan Pace, but that didn't make it easy letting Floyd go.
"We love the person. I think Leonard is a really, really awesome person. I think he's a really good player," Nagy said. "But when you start getting into the business side of it, there's just decisions that got to be made. And that was one of the tough ones that we had to make."
Floyd has amassed 14 combined tackles and two sacks in six games. His four tackles for loss are currently second on the Rams behind defensive lineman Aaron Donald's 8.5.
"Watching him this year and what he's doing for Brandon Staley and for (head) coach (Sean) McVay, you're seeing a guy that's making plays at certain times that we saw in the past, and he always is going to play hard. They're doing a great job with him and he's playing well."