Making a little sense of Bears ’15 season, culture change


Making a little sense of Bears ’15 season, culture change

Of the Bears’ first 14 games in 2015, fully nine have been against playoff teams. The fact that the Bears were 2-7 in whose games says that they weren’t at that level, but it also says a couple of other things.

One is that they generally won’t be well served in strength-of-schedule tiebreakers in whatever draft order they find themselves after next Sunday’s wrap up at home against Detroit. This weekend concluded with six six-win teams. The fact that the Bears managed their six against from a schedule with so many games against playoff teams, unofficially at this point, suggests that the Bears are one of the stronger teams in that group; hence, higher draft slot.

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(For record-keeping purposes, the Bears had wins over Green Bay and Kansas City; and losses to Arizona, Denver, Green Bay, Minnesota (twice), Seattle and Washington.)

More important is that while the 5-11 meltdown of 2014 left the locker room and collective psyche in shambles in only Marc Trestman’s second year, the Bears have rarely had total breakdowns.

“We feel it; those [players] feel it,” said coach John Fox. “We’re getting there.”

The Bears played a total of 37 games without core members of their projected No. 1 offense – Martellus Bennett (5), Jay Cutler (1), Matt Forte (3), Alshon Jeffery (6), Eddie Royal (6) and Kevin White (16) – and six different offensive lines in 15 games. So winning six games probably ought to be graded on a little bit of an expectations curve, even if the NFL doesn’t.

But nine wins hasn’t cracked a core group persona: “Playing free and playing with heart and intensity,” said rookie nose tackle Eddie Goldman, “and at the same time, trust each other – I think that’s who we are, a group that has character. Of course we have some rough patches. But we can play with anybody.”

Maybe. Maybe not.

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But Fox’s prime directive taking over as head coach was to reform the culture and the level of football along with it. When defensive end Willie Young stood up Saturday night in the team dinner in St. Petersburg, it was an indicator that the culture reformation was coming from within, not just imposed by Fox. And that is when that culture starts to mean something.

“One of the things you try to create is a ‘player-culture,’” Fox said on Monday. “They’re the guys who play the game. Sure, coaches are part of it. We’ve got systems, schemes, but at the end of the day they have to execute.

“The term ‘TEAM’ – Together Everybody Accomplishes More – and doing it for your teammates and doing it for something bigger than yourself helps create chemistry, an edge, whatever word or label you want to put on it. It’s empowering guys to lead. In my experience with different teams, different championship teams, you had that. Whether it’s been here with the Bears or with teams you’ve experienced or I’ve experienced, it’s something you try to establish. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a minute. I think we’re developing that. We’re not a finished product yet by any means.”

Saints DE Cam Jordan really wants to hit Chase Daniel, but swears it's out of love

Saints DE Cam Jordan really wants to hit Chase Daniel, but swears it's out of love

All signs this week have pointed to Mitch Trubisky returning for the Bears’ Week 7 matchup against New Orleans, which should be exciting news for Chicago fans (right?).

Cam Jordan and the Saints defense, for their part, won’t be happy to see Mitch under center, but maaaaybe not for the reason you’d think. In an appearance on NFL Total Access this afternoon, Jordan was asked by Lindsay Rhodes what the difference between facing Trubisky and backup QB Chase Daniel is for New Orleans, and he laid out a pretty compelling case for preferring Daniel:


“I’ve been meaning to hit Chase ever since I got to the league,” Jordan said. “I’ve already hit Mitch.”

Jordan was quick to clarify that he “love[s] Chase” from his days sharing a locker room with him in New Orleans early in each of their careers. Daniel backed up Drew Brees from 2010-2012, overlapping with Jordan’s rookie and sophomore seasons (2011-2012). 

“He brought so much juice to our locker room when he was here,” Jordan continued. “I can’t wait for a chance to hit him. That’s how I show love to my friends.”

Daniel took the rib in stride, tweeting out a light-hearted response to the clip of Jordan a few hours later:

Jordan responded to that by saying he has "nothing but admiration" for Daniel and implored him to be the Brett Favre to his Michael Strahan. (Favre, you'll remember, famously crumpled in a heap at the feet of Strahan in Week 17 of the 2001 season, with Strahan needing only one sack to break the single-season record. That record of 22.5 sacks still stands to this day.) Chicago fans would certainly sign on for Daniel granting Jordan's wish, in the event of a blowout Bears victory.  

Whether it’s Trubisky or Daniel leading the Bears’ huddles on Sunday, though, the Saints defense will prove a formidable matchup, and Jordan is a big reason why. The four-time Pro Bowler has already racked up five sacks (tied for eighth in the NFL) and nine quarterback hits six games into the season.

Optimistically, the hope is Jordan never gets the chance to set his sights on any Bears quarterback this Sunday. Unrealistic? Definitely. But one can dream.

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Alvin Kamara officially out for Week 7 game at Bears


Alvin Kamara officially out for Week 7 game at Bears

The Bears are getting good news on their injury report, but the Saints definitely are not.

While it sounds like Mitchell Trubisky will return for the Bears, the Saints will be missing both of their backfield starters for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field.

Quarterback Drew Brees was already known to miss the game, but now running back Alvin Kamara is officially listed as out with an ankle injury. Kamara had 11 carries for 31 yards and seven receptions for 35 yards in last week’s 13-6 win at Jacksonville, but won’t take on the Bears.

The 24-year-old has 373 rushing yards and 276 receiving yards this season.

Latavius Murray is expected to fill in for Kamara as the starter. Murray has the same 4.3 yards per carry average as Kamara so far this season.

Brees has been out since injuring his thumb in a Week 2 loss at the Rams. Teddy Bridgewater has gone 4-0 as the starting quarterback, but won’t have the threat of Kamara behind him on Sunday.

On top of that, starting tight end Jared Cook is also out with an ankle injury. Cook has 15 receptions for 168 yards and two touchdowns this season.

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