Bears

Best thing about Bears’ preseason loss to Chiefs: 'It wasn’t all bad'

Best thing about Bears’ preseason loss to Chiefs: 'It wasn’t all bad'

John Fox’s hopes for this preseason game No. 3 actually were fairly modest: show improvement. The Bears gave their coach pretty much the exact opposite in a dismal 23-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, which wasn’t really even as close as that score.

Tellingly perhaps, Fox was moderately damning with faint praise: “I don’t think it was all bad,” Fox said. “It might have looked like that but so do a lot of preseason games.”

And any presumed correlation between Saturday’s woeful performance and how the season may be a stretch. Five of the last six times the Bears have lost their third preseason game, they finished .500 or better, last year’s 34-6 drubbing at Cincinnati being the lone time the game-three result foreshadowed the course of the season.

But Fox was accurate in how the 2016 game-three loss looked. With quarterback Jay Cutler and the No. 1 one offense – or what was healthy of it – played into the third quarter, by which time the Chiefs were leading 20-0, had out-gained the Bears 331-94 and had allowed the Bears into plus-territory just once in seven possessions and with the Bears picking up zero first downs on five of the seven “drives.”

“It was good and bad, like anything else,” Cutler said.

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Concerning perhaps, while not easily quantifiable from a distance, the play by too many players looked lethargic and disinterested, whether it was the cause or the result of repeated breakdowns that killed Chicago drives and extended Kansas City ones. Whether success grows out of confidence or confidence follows from success is a relevant question but one that really doesn’t matter until the Bears have at least one or the other.

“I’ve never had a problem, whether it was all of last year or this year, as far as effort,” Fox said. “Our guys try hard and work hard. Now it’s just crossing that gap to having it happen under pressure. I think with young people sometimes that’s the growing pains. We’ve got the talent to do it. Now we’ve just got to execute better."

Cutler appeared frustrated on more than one occasion, which in the past has been a source of problems. Some of it clearly was with teammates and failed assignments. But this is a young Bears team still in a molten state and frustration, even when justified, can be an accelerant for tension.

This is still only preseason, but the critical trust relationship between Cutler and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is still a work in progress. The No. 1 offense has done less than nothing – 29 total points from 12 quarters of work – other than a brief burst early in New England. History suggests that Cutler is among those who need success to believe in his chief architect, and if Cutler’s attitude is fraying even a little bit, the danger is that it spread without something positive.

“We’ve got a great attitude,” Cutler insisted. “We’ve got a good team. Coach Fox put together a heck of a staff. Dowell and his staff are doing everything possible. Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] is a proven vet… . It’s just up to the guys.”

[RELATED: Bears No. 1 offense moving in wrong direction after three preseason games]

The game was one of the poorer examples of complementary football, with no phase of the Bears – offense, defense, special teams – doing anything remotely setting up another in field position, momentum or whatever. That is unsettling, since it is unusual for a game to be marked by none of a team’s units performing well.

The offense went without a first down on its final four possessions going into halftime. That was capped off by an abysmal final three trips to the line of scrimmage that produced a false-start penalty, incomplete pass to a wide-open receiver and a sack.

The defense, which wasn’t getting much recovery time from those brief series, failed to stop any of the Chiefs’ possessions through three quarters without at least one first down. The Chiefs had six drives of 40 yards or longer and had the ball approaching 30 minutes to the Bears’ 15 through three quarters.

Special teams did the defense few favors. Kansas City punt returns of 18 and 15 yards put the ball at the KC 36 and the 50. The Bears did well to leave those possessions giving up only 3 points, but the Chiefs had three different punt returners with at least one runback of 10 yards or longer.

As far as what might be positive in all of that: “It IS preseason,” Fox stated.

Watch: Bears celebrate beating Packers, winning the NFC North at "Club Dub"

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USA TODAY

Watch: Bears celebrate beating Packers, winning the NFC North at "Club Dub"

Celebrations were in order for the Bears following their 24-17 victory over the Packers on Sunday. Not only did the win clinch the NFC North championship for the Bears, but it also essentially squashed any playoff hopes held by the Packers.

As they do after every win, the Bears celebrated at "Club Dub" (located in their locker room) after the game. Based on a video posted on the team's official Twitter account, the team sure knows how to win and have fun doing so. Take a look:

It's lit, as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky would say. NBC Sports Chicago's Bears beat writer J. J. Stankevitz offered a reaction likely shared by most Bears fans.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.

Rams lose and Bears are closer to a first-round bye in the playoffs

Rams lose and Bears are closer to a first-round bye in the playoffs

The Bears are NFC North Champions and now one game closer to a first-round bye in the playoffs after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Los Angeles Rams.

The Rams are still one game ahead of the Bears in the standings, but if they lose one game and the Bears win out they’ll be tied at 12-4. The Bears would win the tie-breaker in head-to-head record because the Bears beat the Rams last week on Sunday night. 

Unfortunately the Rams have a favorable remaining schedule, playing the 4-10 San Francisco 49ers and the 3-11 Arizona Cardinals. The Bears also play the 49ers, but close the season on the road against the 7-6-1 Minnesota Vikings, who are playing for their playoff lives. The Vikings are barely ahead of the 7-7 Eagles and Washington Redskins for the final playoff spot.

And the Bears two remaining games are on the road, while the Rams have one more home contest.

The Bears could really use that first-round bye. If the playoffs were to start now, the Bears would be playing the Vikings in back-to-back games in Week 17 and the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. Three match ups against one team in a single season would be difficult. Especially, beating a team three times in a single season.

Home-field advantage at Soldier Field in the Divisional Round would do wonders for the Bears and their chances of reaching the NFC Championship game. The weather in Chicago is a great equalizer, particularly to the high-powered offenses of dome or warm weather teams.

The Rams are trending in the wrong direction, while the Bears are trending in the right direction. It could happen.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.