Young Bears Have to Match Playoff Intensity

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune quotes Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox:

“People say they play harder in the playoffs.  To me, it’s just like a regular-season game. It’s going to mean a lot. One of my biggest games that I am going to ever play in. I’m going to go out there, not put any pressure on my shoulders, just go out there and have fun.”

I hope Knox is just mouthing that blather and doesn’t really mean it.  Becasue if he really treats this just like a regular season game there’s going to be trouble.  If the rest of the young players do it there’s going to be really big trouble.

I never played in an NFL playoff game but you don’t have to do that to see what happens when the lights come on in the post-season.  Perhaps “playing harder” isn’t a good way to phrase what’s necessary.  But playing with greater intensity and, especially greater speed is absolutely crucial to post season success.

Former NFL safety Matt Bowen , also writing for the Tribunedescribes the situaiton with more authority than an average fan like me can provide:

“Monday night games and divisional rivalries — while considered intense — don’t compare to the overall speed that will be seen Sunday at Soldier Field. From covering kicks on special teams to defensive football inside of the red zone, players will treat each snap with a more aggressive style than is played in the regular season.

“That’s what happens when a possible Super Bowl championship and playoff checks are on the line.”

“The Seahawks already experienced that in their wild-card victory over the Saints. They played their best football of the season with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Marshawn Lynch playing at a level that is conducive to winning in the postseason. It was called an upset over the Saints, but it isn’t really an upset when one team plays faster from the start of the first quarter.”

“Schemes and X’s and O’s give you a chance in the playoffs, but in the end it comes down to players, and the ones who advance play faster.”

Knox got a little peak at what the playoffs are like when the Bears squared off against the Packers in the last regular season game.  I’ve said it several times already but Knox got dominated in that game. The biggest reason is that the Packers raised their intensity to play what was essentially a playoff game for them.  If Knox didn’t learn that lesson then, if he thinks that the high level of play that the Packers demonstrated was a result of any given Sunday, he’s not going to succeed.

Knox and the other young Bear players had better not just treat this like a “regular-season game”.  They’d better come out ready to contest for their playoff lives.

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