During halftime of the Bears’ 24-10 victory against the Jets, coach Matt Nagy put his left arm around Mitch Trubisky’s waist and spoke directly into the left earhole of his quarterback’s helmet.
Nagy’s message was direct and powerful.
“I’m going to challenge you right now these two quarters for greatness,” Nagy said.
“Yes, sir,” Trubisky replied.
“You got me?”
“I got you.”
“I want to see it come out of you right here.”
“You take this thing over right now.”
It was a moment captured by the Bears during a team-produced “Mic’d Up” video with Nagy that received glowing reviews by fans and some members of the media. Trubisky, of course, was significantly better in the second half against the Jets.
“Was it edited?” Nagy joked when asked about the video. “Good. Good job, Fabes [vice president of communications Brandon Faber].”
Nagy had similar moments before and during the game with outside linebacker Leonard Floyd (“Cut it loose and have fun. You got me? You promise?) and running back Jordan Howard (“I promise you I’m going to get you going.”).
The video provides inside glimpses of Nagy’s interactions with his players on game day and a unique look at his blossoming relationship with Trubisky, who’s still developing in his second season.
General manager Ryan Pace always had the goal of reproducing the Sean Payton-Drew Brees dynamic from his Saints days with the Bears. It’s early in Nagy’s run with Trubisky, but Pace appears to have achieved that objective.
This also is a first for the Bears. Former coach Lovie Smith was revered by many of his players, but he didn’t share the same type of relationship with Jay Cutler. The same was true for Marc Trestman — who benched Cutler in favor of Jimmy Clausen in an effort to save his job — and John Fox.
By all accounts, Nagy’s relationship with Trubisky is authentic. Many at Halas Hall will tell you that everything is authentic with Nagy. But it does help that the Bears’ foundation is rooted in the pairing of a young coach with a young quarterback.
“I do need to remind myself at times [to talk to Trubisky], just because you’re trying to focus on all aspects of the game,” Nagy said. “I’m so used to sitting on the bench next to the quarterback after every series, talking through [things], going through that.
“But every now and then, if I feel there’s a time when I’ve got to talk to him and maybe just have a little one-on-one conversation, I’ll do it. I don’t overdo it; I try not to because it just becomes noise that he doesn’t hear.
“When I talk to him, I want it to mean something. So I think it’s important to have that relationship. I also think it’s important for him to have a great relationship and trust with his quarterbacks coach, [Dave] Ragone, and Mark Helfrich, the [offensive coordinator].”
On a micro level, Trubisky played better in the second half to knock off the Jets. He went 11-for-16 for 104 yards after starting off 5-for-13 for 116 yards (70 coming on running back Tarik Cohen’s catch-and-run touchdown). The Bears also scored 17 points in the second half after producing seven in the first half.
“Every week, you’re really striving for greatness,” Trubisky said. “But when he pulled me aside, it really just homed me in, made me focus a lot more and just made me that more motivated to focus in and do what I had to do to help the offense and really get us going. I have so much respect and love for Coach, that he just said it, and I needed to make it happen.”
On a macro level, it’s an indication of what’s stirring for the Bears with Nagy and Trubisky.
“I love it,” Trubisky said. “The best players, they want to be the hardest workers, and they also want to be pushed the most. So we have a really good relationship, where I want him criticizing and I want him pushing me all the time.”