Bears going beyond the cliche, injuries to flirt with top-10 defense and major attitude change

Bears going beyond the cliche, injuries to flirt with top-10 defense and major attitude change

The Bears at this point in their 2016 season face any number of questions. But one in particular looms relevant as they try to build on an impressive win over the Minnesota Vikings and use it as a springboard into the second half of their season:

Does their attitude and confidence get them closer to more wins and better play? Or does the better play (and positive reinforcement from a “W”) build the attitude? Or both?

“Ideally you want to start off with that confidence,” said linebacker Sam Acho. “But some of it is built. You don’t really know you can do something until you go out and do it.”

So were the Bears good against Minnesota because they found some confidence? And will it last, whatever it is? Or does beating the Vikings materially improve their chances of win No. 3 next Sunday just because now they know they can be good for 60 full minutes?

“It’s a game of confidence and it’s hard to get confidence without something good happening and that typically is wins,” said coach John Fox. “No doubt. Obviously that helps. But what came first, the chicken or the egg? I think we performed well so you have a better chance of winning and then it all works.”

Talk is very, very cheap, and also very, very easy. And while the mood within the Halas Hall locker room was palpably better on this Wednesday than quite a few previous ones this season, that doesn’t mean much if the Bears come back from Tampa 2-7.

But within the defense in particular, as members of the Bears’ defense returned to practice on Monday, they weren’t used to so many bodies moving around, given the weekly sick bay the team has filled up too many times through eight game weeks.

Yet in spite of gaping starting-lineup holes left by injuries – Bryce Callahan (2 games missed), Kyle Fuller (8), Eddie Goldman (6), Lamarr Houston (6), Pernell McPhee (6), Danny Trevathan (2) – the Bears finished the first half of a disappointing season still ranked in the top half of the NFL in yardage allowed (12th), rushing average (10th), third-down defense (8th), sack percentage (13th).

[MORE BEARS: Bears' sick-bay list encouraging as practice begins for Tampa Bay]

Notably perhaps, the Bears did not deteriorate into a group expecting something to go wrong, which has happened within some past Bears teams that were battered by one injury or misfortune after another.

“Anytime you are playing well it is going to create confidence,” said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “Good play, good execution, fuels emotion more so than any speech could. So if you are out there experiencing good things, you feel better about yourself as an individual and as a unit. I am sure the fans even felt a little better.”

Feeling better is certainly a good thing. Feeling nasty is more the internal objective, however, and that is part of the program for a team that believes it has turned a corner and now doesn’t want to back-slide.

“Today, yesterday, Monday, I told the guys the main thing was to stay pissed off, know where we are and where we can go,” McPhee said. “The sky’s the limit; only thing we’ve got to do is stay focused.”

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20. 

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start from new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."