Matt Nagy’s most memorable quote from 2019’s training camp was this: “We don’t have turds on this team.”
If you’re reading this while following the mesmerizing — and, honestly, sad — Antonio Brown drama, it feels particularly prescient. And before we go any further: You will not see Brown play for the Bears. So let’s not even bother with that.
The #Raiders have released WR Antonio Brown. Wow.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 7, 2019
But as the Bears pick up the pieces from their disconcerting 10-3 loss to the Green Bay Packers Thursday night, they do so feeling confident in the culture established over the last year and a half inside Halas Hall.
“We as coaches need to understand that it’s our job to fix that, and I think that’s why Ryan (Pace) and I like to bring in high-character people,” Nagy said, “so that when times like this happen, we’re able to fix it.”
Here’s where the Bears’ culture will be tested, though: This is a team that didn’t have a loss like this in 2018. As in, none of the Bears’ four regular season defeats could be solely pinned on the offense.
That’s not to say the Bears’ offense wasn’t culpable for mistakes in defeats to the Packers, Dolphins, Patriots or Giants. But the Bears scored 23, 28, 31 and 27 points in those losses, and won five games in which the offense scored fewer than 20 points.
This time, the Bears’ offense scored three points and wasn’t bailed out by a defensive touchdown. Needing Eddie Jackson to house a pick-six or for Khalil Mack to force a fumble deep in opposing territory just isn’t a sustainable way to win games on a year-to-year basis.
The Bears’ defense showed against Green Bay why it’s still one of the best in the NFL, even if it didn’t generate a takeaway. Holding an Aaron Rodgers-led offense to 10 points and 3.7 yards per play is an impressive accomplishment, one which should’ve been good enough to generate a win.
There’s no reason to believe the Bears’ culture will fall apart after one loss. Nagy is a strong leader and his quarterback is, too, even if Mitch Trubisky is coming off one of the worst games of his career. Mack doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who plays the blame game, and vocal leaders like Jackson and Danny Trevathan have steadfastly had Trubisky’s back during his ups and downs since debuting in Week 5 of the 2017 season.
But still, this is a test for the Bears. And imagine how much harder that test would be if it included Antonio Brown and his media team actively inserting themselves in it.
“We have a locker room of high-character people,” Nagy said. “That's why we bring these guys in because what they do is, they don't point fingers. The defense doesn't point fingers and say the offense should have played better. That's not how we roll.”
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