A lot of the players have reasons to be pissed off. My position to you today is – you should be too.
If the Bears needed any other fuel to finish burning the narrative of “consistent suck” (okay we won’t say suck, we’ll say “faithfully frustrating finality”) to the ground, they’ve got it now.
Having a younger, aggressive, collaborative, and well-trained head coach gives this team fuel. Fixing player complaints about the offense by hiring almost a completely new (minus Dave Ragone) coaching staff on that side of the ball is more gasoline.
Consistency with room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball gives this defense a family-oriented pride that is the first step for a Bears defense that is good, but still lacks an identity. That’s more fuel.
Well, where are the matches?
Here’s my exhaustive list as to why the Bears’ anger should drive them to start winning.
1.Closer Than You Think
Fun fact: The Bears lost a lot of games in the John Fox era (34 in three years to be exact). More-fun fact: The Bears have lost 19 of those 34 games by eight points or fewer. That’s one trip to the end zone and a two point conversion to get the job done.
That should make you upset.
This team, even with its trouble, is far better than the records have shown. At some points, they were poorly coached or simply out-coached. Other times, youth, a nasty injury plague and blown last-minute plays did them in.
Just think about it, had the Bears closed the deal on the close ones they wouldn’t have had a single losing season under Fox. Their record in his three years would’ve been 12-4, 9-7, and 11-5 respectively. Most-fun fact: Fox has been replaced.
Chicago’s players deserve more recognition for a myriad of things last season. Zach Miller should’ve gotten that touchdown in New Orleans (don’t get me started on that). Akiem Hicks should’ve been a Pro-Bowler, instead, he was named a fourth (!!) alternate. Yet somehow, Bleacher Report comes out and names Hicks the best 3-4 defensive end in the league.
Eddie Jackson had a better season, but Jamal Adams gets the All-Rookie team nod. Not to mention the scrutiny the Bears took all offseason for drafting Mitchell Trubisky. Ryan Pace got “fired with this draft” according to some and made “an indefensibly idiotic move” to others.
Well … Pace just got an extension and made a great hire. I expect every player to take it personally. They have, and they will continue to take it out on the league next season.
3. Tough Sledding
The Bears finished this season with the toughest schedule in the NFL following last year’s tie at seventh. You can expect the Bears to be in the top 10 annually because we have Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and the NFL’s No. 1 defense for six games a year. Still, that’s no excuse.
See my first point again to understand just how close the Bears are. This is the NFL’s founding franchise. The league needs the Chicago Bears to be good. One of its biggest fan bases turning off the television and not attending games is simply not good for business.
Losing might have just created the monster the Bears needed by letting them string together multiple top-10 picks in a row. To win five games and lose another six games by eight points or fewer stings. It should sting just hard enough for disgruntled Bears to find a silver lining in the upcoming season.
If I’m Matt Nagy, in my first meeting with the players I’m introducing myself and staff, honoring them and Fox and then stressing how close we are to sustainable success with points like these.
The Bears have had some ugly losses in instances in which they had the most opportunity to prepare. Losing poorly after the bye week, double-digit first-half penalties all speak to poor coaching. In the words of the “Prophet Special Teams Coordinator” Chris Tabor, “you adapt or die.”
The Bears didn’t seem to adapt last season by choice, they adapted by force. Imagine if Trubisky could’ve played all season and developed. Imagine if Cody Whitehair stayed at center no matter what happened around him. Imagine if Adam Shaheen would’ve played more or more packages were created for Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard at the same time (it’s not like we had great receivers to make plays anyway).
Imagine if half of Trubisky’s time at quarterback wasn’t spent playing “run on first down, run on second down, pass on third down.” Imagine if we weren’t “taking what the defense gives us” or “letting the defense dictate the offense” as Dowell Loggains said. Sun Tzu in “The Art of War” says this:
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
The Bears played “not to lose” more than they played in order to win far too many times. That idea not only cost them games and pride, but jobs were lost in its abysmal philosophical foundation.
5. Rare Aggression
The Bears last season looked more like Build-A-Bear Workshop Teddies than the grizzly that decimated Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. It wasn’t all of the players, just a handful.
Soft play-calling with simple concepts against complex defensive looks, running some of the same plays in back-to-back weeks and being called out on predictability proved it. Some of Chicago’s most aggressive plays this season, were on special teams. Not going for it on fourth down more was disappointing, the Bears had nothing to lose anyway!
Allowing a team to kick a field goal because you felt like you had a good chance of blocking it was inexcusable. Vic Fangio isn’t entirely excused either. I get that because of injuries, the Bears had to play “bend, but don’t break” defense.
However, I’ll go on record to say that this roster is built to be a pretty good blitzing team. For some reason, Fangio just doesn’t do it a lot. Danny Trevathan even joked and asked “hopefully for more blitzes” in the offseason. We’ll see next season if he feels, with a few more playmakers, ready to “cut it loose and have fun.”
A few years ago …
George McCaskey addressed the media and was asked how his mother Mrs. Virginia McCaskey, princess of the Chicago Bears and daughter of Papa Bear George Halas, feels about the franchise. His response took him to a moment of reflective silence as Ted Phillips immediately drinks from a water bottle.
“…She’s pissed off. I can’t think of a 91-year-old woman that that description would apply to, but I can’t think of a more accurate description.”
The Bears franchise isn’t going to change strictly with ownership and I can honestly say that McCaskey and Phillips are really trying to win.
They wouldn’t spend $100 million on a new facility that develops their players better if they didn’t care. They wouldn’t have tied themselves to a young, aggressive, bold general manager with a contract extension. It’ll all change when the coaches, the general manager, and the players are all sick and tired of being, well … sick and tired.
Checking the temperature on Halas Hall, I believe they’ve hit that point already and are ready to explode onto the scene next year with some well-deserved, highly-anticipated winning. The countdown has begun until the match meets the gas.
33 weeks and counting. ?