Bears banking on previous playoff experience

The Sports Xchange

December 31, 2018 at 6:32 pm.

Danny Trevathan, Prince Amukamara and Trey Burton all have rings.

Taylor Gabriel played for one, and thought he had one with Atlanta, but didn’t.

Akiem Hicks, Sherrick McManis, Khalil Mack and even long snapper Patrick Scales havel been in playoff games.

Yet none of them — not a single player on the roster — has worn a Chicago Bears uniform in a playoff game. It’s going to be a new experience for all of them when they host the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at Soldier Field in the wild-card round game

Whether this experience gap eventually means anything is anyone’s guess.

“There’s a number of guys on this team that have had this type of experience,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “And I know we’ve been tagged as a young team and inexperienced in certain ways but we have a great group of guys that have seen what the playoffs are about and won at the highest level.

“So I think everybody is doing their part in sharing that experience.”
The players know much of the coaching staff doesn’t have this postseason experience deficiency, if it is one.”

Nagy talks frequently about the playoffs, especially the loss Kansas City had last year to Tennessee in a game the Chiefs led 20-3 while he was offensive coordinator.

“The intensity is completely different,” Nagy said. “It’s not even close (to regular season), and I think that’s the message that our guys gotta understand, the guys that haven’t been a part of it. That’s what was so good about yesterday’s game.”

The Bears finished up with a 24-10 win over Minnesota in a road game to put a halt to the Vikings’ season.

“They got to feel that, yesterday, it wasn’t a playoff game, but it was close to it,” Nagy said. “And so those guys felt it, they were on the road. Everything’s faster. It’s a lot faster. There’s a feel to it. You’ve got everybody there. Everybody’s watching. The good thing for us, is We?ve had some Sunday night games, some Monday night games, some Thursday night games, where this isn’t our first rodeo. So I know how our guys handle it and now it’s just the deal if you lose, you’re done, if you win, you keep moving on. That’s the only difference.”

Hicks played four playoff games and called the experience “everything that it needed to be.”

“So the playoffs are unlike anything else where you have this feeling of do or die, this could be it,” Hicks said. “If I don’t play well, I’ve got to go to my locker and pack up my little black garbage bag. You know, at the end of the season. That’s never a good feeling.”

One thing the Bears can count on when the intensity heats up is their coach won’t be getting uptight on them for lack of experience.

Nagy has spent the year calling trick plays and using unique formations. He’s not about to change that up now.

“Why do you need to change it now, because it’s the playoffs?” Nagy said. “No, just continue to do what you do. I think when you start changing things, you’re not being yourself. Now you’re getting into territory that you have no idea how you’re going to react to it. Keep doing the same things.”

–Nagy built a pretty good case for cosmic connections and football fate when describing his relationship with his competition in Sunday’s upcoming playoff game.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Nagy worked closely together for six years with Kansas City and Philadelphia and were texting each other after the Sunday’s wins by the Bears over the Vikings and Eagles over the Redskins pitted them against each other.

“I have to tell you that when I first got into this league, I was below a quality control coach,” Nagy said. “I was an assistant to the assistant. And Doug was a quality control coach. And then he got the QB (coaching) 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.”

It led Nagy to one conclusion.

“So I told him at the owners meetings this past offseason that he got that Super Bowl (last year},” Nagy said. “I’m trying to follow his lead here. He probably doesn’t want to hear that right now. But I’m trying to stick on that path.”

Nagy reminisced about watching video of the current Eagles quarterback.

“And I can still remember the day we were sitting in his office watching Nick Foles and going back to seeing that and talking with coach (Andy) Reid.
“It’s amazing how fast time goes and how life is. And there are others. There are more people in that organization other than just Doug, but Doug and I were hip by hip for six years and I really think the world of him.”

–The Bears defense wound up No. 1 against the run this season at 80 yards a game. They set a team record for lowest rushing yardage total allowed (1,280). It broke the record held by the 2001 team that featured inside run plugs Ted Washington and Keith Traylor (1,313).

“I think that we are approaching excellence, approaching greatness,” Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks said. “We still have got a lot to push for, but I think that we are a really good defense and a really good team.”
–Rookie wide receiver Javon Wims hadn’t made a catch all season but contributed greatly to Sunday’s win and gave the Bears hope he might be someone to count on in the future. After injuries to Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller, Wims got extended playing time and contributed four catches for 32 yards, including two first-down catches on the key drive of the game, a 90-yard march to a touchdown that padded the Bears’ lead back to 11 points.

–WR Taylor Gabriel suffered a rib injury in Sunday’s win over the Vikings and said after the game he felt ?OK? and should be able to play. Nagy also thinks Gabriel will be ready
–WR Anthony Miller suffered a shoulder injury early in the win over Minnesota and Nagy anticipates he’ll be able to play against the Eagles on Sunday.
–WR Allen Robinson II (ribs) missed the win over the Vikings but is expected to return for the Eagles game.
–S Eddie Jackson (ankle) missed his second straight game Sunday against Minnesota but Nagy continues to believe he might have his starting safety back by game time.
–G Kyle Long (foot) made it through half of Sunday’s win and then came out. “He did a good job of every play staying consistent,” Nagy said. “I thought he looked healthy, he held the line of scrimmage really well, he was great in the run game. When we did throw the ball, he was solid there. So the biggest thing for him was gonna be just conditioning and getting in and out of the game, just the normal stuff, and I liked where he was at.” Long played 27 snaps before leaving. “We’d love to be able to put him out there, start and play a whole game, we just have to see how he holds up,” Nagy said.