4 Bears questions: Tarik Cohen meets his idol, team picks captains and boom!
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Backup quarterback Chase Daniel is among the members of Bears Twitter pushing for fans to do coach Matt Nagy’s trademark ‘‘Boom!’’ celebration at kickoff Sunday.
‘‘I dunno,’’ Nagy said Friday. ‘‘It might be pretty cool, I guess.’’
Nagy had an important question, though: Who would synchronize thousands of fans driving their right arms from the sky toward the ground, like Nagy does?
Nagy has more pressing questions to worry about as the Bears prepare for their first playoff game in eight years, a matchup Sunday against the reigning Super Bowl champion Eagles. Here are four of them:
Where did Nagy watch the Super Bowl last year?
He and wife Stacey went to Chief’s Pub in Lake Forest to watch their friend Doug Pederson coach the biggest game of his life. No one recognized Nagy, and he had to ask the bar to put the game on.
He said he wasn’t surprised when Pederson called ‘‘Philly Special,’’ a pass from then-Eagles tight end Trey Burton to quarterback Nick Foles. But he was impressed.
‘‘I do remember looking at my wife and saying, ‘Holy hell, that was a ballsy call,’ ’’ Nagy said.
Pederson has continued his gutsy ways this season. Only the Broncos converted more than the Eagles’ 14 fourth downs. Only the Chargers had more than the Eagles’ five two-point conversions.
‘‘That’s who they are; it’s not going to surprise me one bit,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘We’ll try to stay prepared — as prepared as we can be.’’
Will Bears running back Tarik Cohen finally meet his idol?
Cohen has texted with Eagles running back Darren Sproles, to whom he has been compared his whole life. But Sunday will be the first time he talks with his fellow 5-6 running back in person.
‘‘It’ll be like meeting the OG [original gangster] of the game,’’ Cohen said. ‘‘He’s like the godfather of the small-running-back position.’’
In the last two weeks, the 35-year-old Sproles has run 16 times for 56 yards and caught five passes for 88 yards. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has been impressed by the sprint draws the Eagles run with Sproles but said he can run both inside and outside zone runs.
Halftime hot tip
The Bears, who are six-point favorites, have covered the spread in nine of their last 10 games. The Eagles, meanwhile, have covered the spread only five times in their last 15 games.
Time to speed it up?
When the Eagles played at Soldier Field in 2016, quarterback Carson Wentz torched the Bears with a no-huddle offense. It might be time to return the favor.
‘‘They’ve got wreckers as backups; that’s what is scary,’’ Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said of the Eagles’ defense. ‘‘Not backups but situational guys. [Defensive end Chris] Long is a third-down player. When you look at a team with [five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle] Haloti Ngata as a backup, you kind of sit up in your seat and go ‘Wait, what?’ ’’
The best way to keep them off the field — or, if the Bears prefer, to prevent them from substituting out — is to run a tempo offense. Helfrich said he would trust quarterback Mitch Trubisky to go no-huddle. Eagles opponents have been successful with tempo, he said.
‘‘It can help,’’ Helfrich said.
Who are the captains?
During the season, Nagy and his coaches chose three captains per game. He changed that for the postseason, an idea borrowed from Chiefs coach Andy Reid.
For the playoffs, Nagy had his players vote for six captains. Each phase — offense, defense and special teams — picked two players.
‘‘It’s a fresh start for these guys,’’ he said. ‘‘And anytime you incorporate the players making the votes, it speaks volumes of who those captains are.”
The winners: Trubisky and center Cody Whitehair on offense, outside linebacker Khalil Mack and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks on defense and running backs Benny Cunningham and Cohen on special teams.
‘‘It means a lot,’’ Cohen said. ‘‘It goes to say what the team thinks about me and that I’m making an impact on them guys.’’
‘‘I want to lead these guys, especially in the postseason,’’ he said.