The Chicago Bears’ first playoff game since January 2011 is coming on Sunday and Matt Nagy believes Mitch Trubisky is ready for the postseason spotlight.
But what does a head coach tell a quarterback to get him in the right mindset? Well, it’s actually kinda simple.
“To not change,” Nagy told reporters during his Wednesday press conference. “For him to continue to do just what he does. Don’t put any extra added pressure on himself.”
It’s a sensible and logical message coming from a coach with the words “Be You” written in bold on his play-calling card to a quarterback who completed 66 percent of his passes, threw for more than 3,200 yards, posted a passer rating of 95.4, and had a 2-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. And yet, it sounded all-too-familiar to me. It was as if hearing Nagy’s words gave me a sense of déjà vu all over again (the type to which only Yogi Berra could relate). Perhaps it’s a message that might sound familiar to Cubs fans.
Back before the Cubs rattled off four straight 90+ win seasons and playoff berths, the Cubs were still looking for their first World Series title since 1908. Patrick Mooney (then of NBC Sports Chicago) shared Cubs Manager Joe Maddon’s message to the team before the pressure was dialed up prior to the start of the 2016 postseason.
The excerpts have a familiar tone:
Maddon wants his team to play the same game all the time. In theory, it shouldn’t matter if it’s April and the Arizona Diamondbacks are filling Chase Field with noise pollution, or an August weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals in front of 40,000 in Wrigleyville, or the October spotlight that can be blinding.
“If you don’t want it on the field and want to hit in the cage, please do. If you want to go hit on the field, please do. I don’t want anything to change. I want minimal or no changes whatsoever.”
A little on the nose, don’t you think?
The stakes are undeniably higher and the pressure will be on a level Trubisky has never felt before. No offense, but yes, we’re talking about a game with bigger implications than that of the 2016 Sun Bowl. But for Trubisky to succeed on Sunday, he’ll need to do what made him successful and play within himself. That means make explosive plays by air and by ground, limit turnovers, and exhibit the tools that were on display at various points of what was a second-year improvement.
Or to paraphrase how Nagy put it, don’t change a thing.