It's apparently possible to overdo this greatest of all time thing with Tom Brady.
Not that the 43-year-old Brady isn't the greatest ever, but someone playing him can overthink it. It's not like he has extra-perception, super powers or anything.
Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has played Brady many times over the years as a head coach, coordinator and position coach, and knows Brady understands defenses probably better than any quarterback in the game.
So there's no sense trying to get too caught up trying to fool Brady because you can wind up merely fooling yourself.
"I've overcooked it a bunch of times in the past, where because we've gone in and, OK, because we're playing Tom Brady we've got to change all our signals because he knows everything—all the verbiage, all those kind of things," Pagano said. "By the end of the week, we sit there and we said nobody (on his defense) knows what the hell we're talking about or what we're doing."
So Pagano won't change much beyond their normal defenses and ways to convey them.
"No signals," Pagano said. "You end up going back to using all the stuff you've been using. You try to be as discreet as possible.
"Now, there's nobody in the stadium and everybody can hear everybody talk and say everything. And he knows. He knows what you're doing, where guys are gonna be. Very seldom is he wrong. So at the end of the day, it does just come down to execution. He can make you look foolish because he gets them in the right play 99.9 percent of the time. And very seldom does he not do that. So it's really, really difficult."
Brady is 5-0 against the Bears, including a 2018 38-31 victory at Soldier Field. It was the only time players in this defense faced Brady with the Bears, but several have tried to beat him with other teams over the years. Vic Fangio was Bears defensive coordinator then.
Pagano has certainly experienced the best Brady has to offer. He has an 0-6 record against Brady as either a defensive coordinator or head coach.
The Patriots beat his Colts 59-24 in 2012, 43-22 in 2013, 42-20 and 45-7 in 2014 and 34-27 in 2015. The 45-7 loss was in the AFC title game. When Pagano was defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, Brady beat them in the 2011 AFC championship game 23-20.
Pagano's defenses as coordinator or head coach have given up an average of 41 points a game to Brady-led teams.
Pagano did get one big win over Brady when he was a defensive backs coach with the Ravens, in the 2009 playoffs 33-14 after the Ravens lost 27-21 in the regular season to Brady. But he was merely a position coach then.
"To be honest it's a rare challenge, going against one of the best ever," outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. "Ah whether it's Thursday night or Saturday night or Monday night, I know he wants to go out and give his team the best chance to win the ballgame but for us it's a chance for us to step up big and help this team win.
"Defensively we're trying to do everything we can and we've got to give him the kind of game where our rush and coverage are working real well together and this will be another chance to do that."
The Bears rank eighth in total defense and seventh in scoring. They're particularly proud of being first in red-zone defense at 37.5% touchdowns allowed, and third on third downs at 34.4%. There has been an emphasis on situational defense and it's apparently working.
They are third in team passer rating against at 74.4.
For the secondary, cornerback Jaylon Johnson calls these numbers a case of always being accountable.
"I would just say high expectations in practice, just in everything they do," Johnson said. "In walk-throughs, just always being sharp and staying on your responsibility.
"We all hold each other to high standards and high expectations so I mean it's just about being better and pushing those around you to be better as well."
They'll need to push hard considering the opposition Thursday is Brady.
"I categorize him as the GOAT for sure," Johnson said.