There will be nothing louder at rowdy Soldier Field than the Bears’ defense

SHARE There will be nothing louder at rowdy Soldier Field than the Bears’ defense
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Bears linebacker Khalil Mack celebrates a sack against the Lions at Soldier Field on Nov. 11. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

When Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin said nobody on his team wanted to play in Chicago in a first-round playoff game, it must have been music that sounded like an air-raid siren to coach Matt Nagy’s ears.

All season, Nagy has been selling the idea of Soldier Field as a hostile work environment for opponents. During news conferences after home games, he often thanked fans for their loud support. On Monday, he said he wants those fans to “get as crazy as they’ve ever been.’’

Baldwin got his wish — a game in the Cowboys’ domed stadium — but so did Nagy — the message to the Eagles, the Bears’ first-round opponents, that Soldier Field is inhospitable.

The truth is a bit more nuanced than the message. If by “inhospitable,’’ Nagy means that the Bears’ frothing defense is a terrible host, he’s right. The crowd noise, the air-raid siren after opponents’ offensive plays, Chicago’s weather in January and Nagy’s crowd-pleasing trick plays are bubble wrap for what really matters.

The Bears have a mean, cruel defense that has taken a vow of violence. That’s what inhospitality looks like. That’s what will have the Eagles preoccupied this week. If you want to add the air-raid siren over it for atmosphere, fine.

What approach Nagy takes offensively Sunday could decide whether the Bears’ defense walks off the field victorious.

He wisely has restrained quarterback Mitch Trubisky the last several games, and here’s hoping he keeps his hands tightly on the reins. If he does, the Bears will have more of an opportunity to get to the Super Bowl.

A measured game by Trubisky means fewer mistakes. It means more running by Jordan Howard. And it means a better chance of the Bears’ defense strangling the Eagles and whoever else comes its way in the postseason. In the three games since Trubisky’s three-interception game against the Rams on Dec. 9, he hasn’t thrown a pick. The Bears won all three of those games. They also beat the Rams despite Trubisky’s struggles, but you can’t live that way in the NFL. You can die that way in a nanosecond in the playoffs.

It doesn’t mean fun has to be a no-show at Soldier Field against the Eagles. Nagy can still put on his party hat and roll out his gadget plays. Linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski caught a pass for a two-point conversion in the Bears’ victory against the Vikings in the regular-season finale. And Trubisky remained as buttoned up as a Puritan.

But he and the offense need to be as efficient and as error-free as possible in the postseason. Dutiful and obedient, too. That’s what’s required here. It sounds patronizing. It’s not. It’s a recognition that the Bears’ defense is so good and so dominant that to not let it do its job would be a football sin.

There are all sorts of stats to back that up. The defense led the NFL in points allowed per game (17.7), rushing yards allowed per game (80), interceptions (27) and opponents’ passer rating (72.9). Tell all your friends.

Or, you can just say these names and drop the mic:

Khalil Mack.

Akiem Hicks.

Roquan Smith.

Danny Trevathan.

Kyle Fuller.

Eddie Jackson.

They’re the flesh and blood and snarl behind the numbers.

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Nagy’s slogan is “Be You.’’ I don’t want him to be anybody else. He has done tons of good things in a short amount of time. For the Bears to go as far as they can in the playoffs, it would help for Nagy to be a little less him. I’d prefer that he be the Matt Nagy who was smart enough the last three weeks to see that Trubisky and the Bears are at their best when the quarterback takes care of the ball or hands it off to the running back.

There will be times during the game against the Eagles — and, hopefully for the Bears’ sake, beyond — that Trubisky will have to make a play or two. He did that with a beautiful 41-yard completion to a diving Taylor Gabriel against the Vikings. It’s the kind of play that keeps defenses honest.

Doing it too often leaves the door open to the return of the erratic Mitch. The risk-taking Mitch isn’t necessary, not with Mack et al. Keeping Trubisky away from the possibility of a painful mistake should be Nagy’s No. 1 priority against Philadelphia.

The Bears’ defense is the closest thing there is to a given in the NFL. Mack and Hicks are that dangerous. They’re not invincible, but they’re whatever the level is below that. Incomparable. Peerless. Really, really good.

Imagine how loud Soldier Field will be if they get to Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. It will create a powerful piercing sound that will make the Eagles want to seek shelter immediately.

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