After frustrating 0-3 start, Bears searching for turnaround


After frustrating 0-3 start, Bears searching for turnaround

For a time, an 0-4 start to a Bears season wasn’t all that noteworthy. One happened in 1997, another in 1998 and, after a recovery year under Dick Jauron in which Gary Crowton’s “razzle-dazzle offense (thank you, Gunther Cunningham) befuddled the Kansas City Chiefs before the Bears went back to losing five of their next seven, in 2000.

Moods of teams can be difficult to read and not always all that meaningful. Teams with good attitudes but no talent don’t necessarily win just because they don’t quit or try hard.

But while the 2015 Bears have fallen short to three 2014 playoff teams with a combined mark of 7-2 through three weeks, “I think there’s a whole lot of football left,” said tight end Martellus Bennett. “And it’s exciting every week to have another chance to get better, improve and see that improvement on tape.”

In coach John Fox’s mind, “I have to remind people that 1 ½ of those three [losses] that we were without our starting quarterback. That’s not an excuse. It’s just a reality. We’re missing some integral parts that hopefully, at some point, we get back. When that is, I don’t know. I don’t put time frames on it.

“But the good news is that we’ve got to look at some other people, some other guys and see how they react in those situations. And hopefully we’re learning some stuff that will help us moving forward… . There's no doubt that those teams [Green Bay, Arizona, Seattle] have beat some pretty good teams along the way and they are good football teams but this league's about winning no matter who you line up against, so we're still in that process."

[MORE: Cutler, Jeffery questionable against Raiders]

Somehow the prospect of the Bears losing their fourth straight in 2015, and ninth straight going back into last season, is spectacularly improbable given that teams with new coaches typically make some sort of first-year improvement. Not necessarily always a lot; there was, after all, a reason why a coaching change happened.

Fox was privately and publicly not viewing his team as a catastrophe-in-waiting when he took the job and even into training camp and the regular season before the problems started. The intriguing part of Sunday’s game with the Oakland Raiders is what plays out at quarterback if Jay Cutler is able to play.

“It's just like when you try to predict before the season, it's hard to do so you're right we've had three opportunities in the regular season and they haven't turned out like we expect,” Fox said. “I think all three of them take on a different personality. I think every opponent takes on its own personality, how you match up as an individual football team vs. your opponent. Obviously disappointed that we're 0-for-3 in those opportunities.

“I don't know that it's all been horrible. I know the result is horrible but hopefully we can grow and learn and get better from it moving forward.”

“Forward” is indeed the focus, vs. too many times in the recent past that “forward” was a source of dread. Not now.

“When you have all the guys on the field, the 53, we’re really going to be the team that we want to be,” Bennett said. “Guys are inching, inching, just not all the way there yet.”

Controversial calls played a large part in the Detroit Lions NFC North loss on Monday night


Controversial calls played a large part in the Detroit Lions NFC North loss on Monday night

The Green Bay Packers managed to pull off a dramatic comeback victory on Monday night, defeating the Detroit Lions 23-22 on a last-second field goal from Mason Crosby. But after the game, it wasn't Aaron Rodgers' usual clutch ways that people were talking about, it was the officiating crew, who had two controversial hands to the face penalty calls against the Lions that all but killed any momentum they had going. 

As you can see in the clip above, both hands to the face calls seemed questionable at best, and downright ludicrous at worst. What makes the calls so tough is the timing. The first hands to the face penalty on Lions DE Trey Flowers came after he sacked Rodgers on third-and-10 and the penalty both took away the sack and provided the Pack with an automatic first down. Later in the drive, Rodgers dropped in a great 35-yard touchdown pass to bring Green Bay within two points 

The second questionable hands to the face call came on 3rd-and-4 and it was the most costly call of the game. The Packers received another automatic first down and ran down the clock — Detroit was out of timeouts — to set up the eventual game-winning, walk-off field goal from Crosby.

And it didn't take long for many people, everyone from former NFL greats to NFL reporters, to chime in on social media with their thoughts on the officiating that seemingly cost Detroit a crucial win. 

With the Green Bay win, the Lions moved to last-place in the NFC North, while the Bears now sit 2.5 games back of first place heading into their Week 7 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

NFC North Standings: Bears 2.5 games behind Packers entering Week 7

NFC North Standings: Bears 2.5 games behind Packers entering Week 7

The Green Bay Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers pulled off another incredible (or maybe controversial) victory over the Detroit Lions in Monday night's NFC North slugfest, 23-22, to advance to 5-1 and in sole possession of first place in the NFC North.

It was the worst possible outcome for the Chicago Bears, who could've used a little help from the Lions to keep pace with Green Bay entering Week 7.

Instead, the Bears (3-2) are now 2.5 games behind the Packers ahead of their showdown with the New Orleans Saints Sunday at Soldier Field.

It could be worse for Chicago. Detroit's loss drops their record to 2-2-1 on the season and moves them into the division's cellar. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Vikings had arguably their strongest showing of the season in their 38-20 victory over the Eagles and improved to 4-2 on the year. Their four wins slot them ahead of the Bears for second place in the North even though Chicago currently owns the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Here are the NFC North standings heading into Week 7:

1) Packers (5-1)
2) Vikings (4-2)
3) Bears (3-2)
4) Lions (2-2-1)