INDIANAPOLIS — Word inside Halas Hall is that coach John Fox has made it clear that in addition to improvement and evaluations, he also wants wins this preseason, believing that those games represent a chance to start changing a culture of negativity and losing that had taken hold inside the Bears over recent seasons.
Fox considers winning to be in no small part about attitude; same with losing. He is not waiting until the regular season to push for wins and in the process eradicate any stench of losing from Halas Hall.
Coaches have not radically altered allocation of playing time for starters in preseason games; preseason will always be about evaluation. But the Bears are 2-0, and the mood upgrade from last year through the locker room is palpable. And Fox never had a sub-.500 preseason in four Denver seasons, all Broncos playoff years.
Not that 2-0 starts necessarily foreshadow regular-season success. The Bears started 2-0 last preseason, too. Before that, 2-0 in 2007, when they missed the playoffs.
But Fox is not the first to target preseason as part of a culture makeover.
When Dennis Green took over in 1992 as coach of the Minnesota Vikings, he explicitly said that the Vikings would play to win their preseason games because believed they needed to relearn being a winning team. Green drove the Vikings to his first objective of a 4-0 preseason goal and then to 11-5 in the regular season, shaking loose from the ennui of 6-10 and 8-8 finishes before Green.
Not that it always works. Jimmy Johnson had done some of the same as Dallas Cowboys coach. In 1989 the Cowboys went 3-1 in preseason with the only loss coming in overtime. That team went 1-15.
But players have talked positively of the personality change Fox and staff have wrought on and off the field. That wasn’t happening in the early months of the previous regime.
One inescapable conclusion, based on things said and on general manager Ryan Pace’s history with New Orleans, is that all members of the Bears’ opening-day 53-man roster are not on the current depth charts.
From various conversations, the Bears are expected to recruit and add upgrades and/or depth from the cut from 90 to 75 after Game 3 and from 75 to 53 after Game 4.
Wide receiver and inside linebacker have been suggested as the likely target areas — receiver because of how thin on experience the group is, and inside linebacker because Jonathan Bostic and Mason Foster have not flashed the way coordinator Vic Fangio is used to seeing inside ‘backers pop (not that either was going to be confused with NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis, but you get the point).