Bears

Looking to get a once-promising season back on track, the Bears will hold a players-only meeting this week

Looking to get a once-promising season back on track, the Bears will hold a players-only meeting this week

Coming off the worst loss of the Matt Nagy era, Bears’ players are taking it upon themselves to right the ship. Yesterday, while appearing on the Mully and Haugh Show, safety Eddie Jackson didn’t mince words about what needed to happen. 

“We’ve got to call a meeting amongst players and say, ‘Look, enough is enough,’ he said. “We know the type of team we have. I don’t want to hear about coaching, play-calling. If you watch the game, you have to see the swagger wasn't out there.”

Turns out, that players-only meeting is happening. The locker room at Halas Hall was open for the first time since Sunday’s blowout loss, and multiple players confirmed that the meeting will happen, and soon. 

“We definitely have plans to do that,” Taylor Gabriel said. “This is our team. I feel like this is a player-ran team, and we believe in each other. We’re brothers, and like I said, there hasn’t been a lot of finger pointing, or a lot of arguing and things like that. As long as we come together, and know that we can come back and get a win. I feel like a win is what we need right now.”

“That’s when guys can really be transparent and genuine,” Prince Amukamara added. “It’s a safe place. Guys can say what they really feel, and other guys can hear it. I don’t think anyone’s going to take it personal. I think guys are really going to listen and take it to heart.” 

Given how the defense has carried the Bears to all three of their wins this season, it’d be easy to see how a players-only meeting could easily slip into a nasty round or two of The Blame Game. 

“If it was offense vs. defense, that would have happened a long time ago,” Amukamara said. “This team is not just offense over here, defense over here, special teams over here. We all mesh.”

Matt Nagy gave the team Monday off, with the idea being that they’d come to work on Tuesday without any anger or counter-productive feelings lingering through the work week.

“I like how coach Nagy has it set up,” Amukamara added. “Because if it was the day after, I feel like things that would’ve been said would’ve just been off of emotions, because it’s right after the game. So Monday gives us a day to cool off and today gives us the time to put our feelings aside and actually look at the film and talk.” 

After Sunday’s loss, Nagy talked about wanting to see the team leaders stand up without him asking them to do so. Guys with rings – like Amukamara or Danny Trevathan – have leaned on the experience of those seasons when talking with teammates, and even Khalil Mack, normally known for his reserved demeanor, has spoken up.

“He’s been vocal a lot lately, and rightfully so,” Amukamara said. “He’s not just a rah-rah guy. He doesn’t waste his words. So when he does speak up, his words mean a lot when he speaks. He does it by action all the time, so when he speaks, guys’ ears are open and guys are more attentive.”

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The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

The Packers beat a bad Bears team in Week 1. In Week 15, they'll get a totally new one.

All week, reporters at Halas Hall tried to get Matt Nagy and the Bears to compare who they were during Week 1’s game against Green Bay to where they are now. And all week at Halas Hall, Matt Nagy and the Bears wouldn't bite. 

“We're both different. They're a little bit different, we're different,” Matt Nagy said. “They did a great job both as players and their coaches, so like I said yesterday, it feels like a while ago and that's why you play. You have a 16-game season and in division you get two chances. We'll just do everything we can to put it behind us and try to be better.” 

Different might be an understatement. Gone are Kyle Long and Bobby Massie. The Starting-Center-James-Daniel experiment is over, and Mike Davis is playing in the NFC South now. Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton – though the latter didn’t play in Week 1 – are on IR, too. Normally, losing two starting tight ends, a ‘starting’ running back, and the entire right side of the offensive line means you’re spending the last month of the season scouting for 2020. Instead, the Bears head to Lambeau Field on Sunday with a path to the playoffs still in front of them. 

“I just feel like we’re kind of in a rhythm now. We’re a different team,” Mitch Trubisky said. “There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn’t go our way, and there’s things we definitely learned from as an offense. 

“I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense.” 

Perhaps the biggest difference between Week 1 and Week 15 has been the play of Trubisky, who looked like he was headed for a clipboard in 2020 before regaining his form over the last month or so. His comfortability in the offense is night and day compared to some of the struggles he went through during the first half of the season. If you ask him – which, duh, we did – he’ll tell you he’s felt the most growth off the field. 

“I just would say mental toughness, the ability to block out things on the outside,” he said. “Adversity, obviously, early in the season with people talking on the outside and then having to play through injuries and stuff, and just coming together closer as a team. My teammates having my back, that really gives me the most confidence.” 

The 14-week turnaround isn’t all about confidence, as Nagy 202 has morphed into something not expected but effective nonetheless. The running game has stabilized and they’ve found successful plays out of 4 WR sets – even if one of those receivers is Montgomery/Tarik Cohen. In Week 1? Montgomery had six rushes and the Bears ran two plays out of 10 personnel. Nagy said that he thought something clicked on Trubisky’s touchdown pass to Ben Braunecker against the Lions. 

“There's something there,” he said. “We felt it a little bit in the Chargers game, we just weren't effective in the red zone. But because we won the [Lions] game it magnifies it a little bit more … And then we just kind of started putting things together and I think over time we've just felt like it's just started to click. I don't know if it's specifically one play or not but that's probably my best guess.” 

It couldn’t have come at a better time, as the team prepares for what Nagy calls a “cat-and-mouse” game against Packers’ defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who perhaps knows Trubisky better than any other opposing coordinator in the game. 

“Coach Pettine has done a great job throughout his career of being almost tendency-free,” he said. “And they’re even better now with how they deploy those guys, and it’s kind of a perfect, perfect storm of scheme and talent, and the guys on the back end help them out too.” 

The Bears are playing with a looseness that might come from essentially being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but oddly, it continues to work for them. And when you have to go play Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau with your season on the line, you don’t question what works. 

“I love it. You want to go against the best all the time,” said Akiem Hicks, who was taken off IR and will start on Sunday. “If you’re a true competitor, you want the best competition.”

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

Clippers coach and Chicago native Doc Rivers weighs in on Bears-Packers

With Doc Rivers, Patrick Beverly and the Los Angeles Clippers in town to face the Bulls, you knew the question was coming. Both Rivers and Beverly are from Chicago and not shy about their affection for the city. 

"Do you and Pat talk about coming to Chicago?" a reporter asked, during Rivers' pregame media scrum, Saturday night.

"We talk about Chicago, probably every single day," Rivers said with a hint of a smile. "We talk about the Bears the most."

That led to Rivers rapid-fire addressing a number of ruminations on the current state of the Bears, including his respect for head coach Matt Nagy.

"I’m a big Bears fan. A big Nagy fan. I think he’s a terrific coach," Rivers said. "I just do, every once in a while you get a feeling about someone, and I have that about him."

High praise coming from Rivers, the 13th-winningest coach in NBA history and an NBA Finals champion in 2008 with the Boston Celtics.

Now, he coaches the third-winningest team in the league in the Clippers, but he still finds time to keep up with current Chicago affairs.

"[Beverly and I] talk about everything with Chicago. We talk about the dominance of Proviso East [Rivers' high school alma mater] over Marshall [Beverly's alma mater], and every other team. He doesn’t like that conversation very much," Rivers said.

He added that he even contemplated driving down for the Bears' Week 14 matchup with the Cowboys on Thursday Night Football (the Clippers were in town for a game with Milwaukee that Friday).

And as for tomorrow's crucial division game against the Packers, Rivers made his position abundantly clear.

"Well, you know what I think," Rivers said, when asked for a prediction for the contest. "Are you kidding me?"

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