Matt Nagy stood in the middle of a circle of Bears players who had just won their third game in 12 days.
“That’s what good teams do right there,” he screamed inside the Ford Field locker room on Thanksgiving. “We come together. And go boom!”
Nagy reached his right arm to the air, bent at the elbow, and drove it toward the ground — like a player spiking a football or the world’s most aggressive basketball referee counting a basket after a foul.
“Woo!” Nagy screamed.
The coach did the hand motion again — “Boom!” — and his players mimicked him. Five feet to his right, receiver Josh Bellamy begged him for one more boom.
This time, Nagy pretended to juggle two balls before dropping the final boom.
“Chills, man,” inside linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “Got me ‘crunk.’
“I didn’t know what to expect when he put [his hand] up there. I just followed his hand. Boom! I almost hit my head on the ground.”
Nagy has done it after every victory since. After his players dance inside “Club Dub,” the postgame party inspired by Cubs skipper Joe Maddon, Nagy brings the boom in his postgame address.
Heading into the game Sunday at San Francisco, perhaps the most impressive part of Nagy’s tenure, beside the 10-4 record, is the way he has connected with his players. Nagy doesn’t script his speeches weeks in advance. He certainly doesn’t craft dance moves. He said the boom “happened just naturally.’’
It means more than that to his players, though — it’s Nagy living the credo of “Be You,” which is painted inside a walkway at Halas Hall.
“That’s just his personality — him turning up,” Bellamy said. “Ever since he been doing that, he started a trend, and we’ve all been doing it.”
Bellamy wants the Bears to incorporate the boom into their game-day experience. He pictures a video on the Soldier Field, and fans following along, the way the Vikings do with their “Skol” chant.
The Bears have played the audio of the boom on the scoreboard after each of their last two home victories, but no video, yet.
“Each and every week, you’re starting to see him loosen up even more,” receiver Anthony Miller said. “You’re starting to see him buy into what type of team we are — and that’s a group of young guys with a lot of swag, a lot of confidence that we’ll win each and every week.”
Nagy — who, at 40, is the league’s third-youngest coach — can appreciate the value of connection, even over a silly dance. In a whirlwind first year, he has made a concerted effort to do just that. For five minutes on Saturdays, the team hosts a dance-off in the locker room, pitting two representatives from the offense against two from the defense. Three Bears officials sit on an “American Idol” stand and pick a winner; their side of the ball gets a reward.
No phones are allowed. There’s one video — and Nagy joked that he’s the one that gets to keep it.
“It’s great to laugh at your teammates that can’t dance,” running back Tarik Cohen joked. “That’s gonna build a lot of camaraderie . . . It’s great to see your teammates in that light. It brings everyone closer.”
Even quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said “has a hard time celebrating the good and a hard time letting go of the bad,” can appreciate the value of the dances.
“You’ve got to remember to enjoy this,” Trubisky said. “And I think the dance parties, ‘‘Club Dub’’ in the locker room after games, have made this experience so much better. And I think it’s just made it, it’s become something very special for this team.”
Nagy’s celebration — boom! — is just as special for his players.
“He’s excited, man,” Trevathan said. “That’s what you want from your coach. I want to keep him that way. I want to keep this whole team, and this city, this way.”