'Overconfident Bears?' Don't count on it


'Overconfident Bears?' Don't count on it

The 2015 Bears have dealt with losses and recovering from setbacks. After downing Oakland and Kansas City, however, their job now is to “overcome” wins.

“You know, dealing with victories is sometimes harder than dealing with losses,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “You feel like you’ve arrived a little bit.

“But I think with this team, we’re not there yet. Everyone knows we’re not there yet. And we’re kind of business as usual. Obviously, there’s going to be a little bit more confidence because of two wins, but I think everybody’s feet are still in the ground.”

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The Bears haven’t won three straight games since the first three games of 2013, the beginning of the Marc Trestman tenure. Not that winning three in a row necessarily translates to anything. The 2012 Bears won six straight, missed the playoffs and got Lovie Smith fired. The 2011 group won five straight, then lost five straight under Caleb Hanie to squander that postseason opportunity. The 2010 team won three and five straight, but the 2009 one, Cutler’s first year as a Bear, won three straight early, then bottomed out to 7-9.

But now an overriding question as the Bears made their way through the Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle games was how much scar tissue successive losses might leave on the psyche of a team taking its first regular-season steps with a new coaching staff and myriad new players still orienting to each other.

Mistakes were being made in all three phases, compounded by injuries that became (and to some extent still are) a near-daily story. The latest came Saturday when defensive tackle Ego Ferguson was placed on the reserve/injured list with a knee injury that has hampered him virtually all season and had him inactive for the Arizona game.

But extending back through the offseason, literally to the day John Fox was hired as Bears coach, a vein of belief was palpable as players talked both openly as well as privately of a confidence in a coaching staff with records of success. The situation was in stark contrast to the situation of the past two years under a less distinguished staff viewed by the players with skepticism bordering at times on outright contempt as control – and wins – vanished.

Two comeback victories have reversed at least the time being the slide that the Green Bay, Arizona and Seattle losses comprised. But the common question is whether wins comes from confidence or confidence from wins, and the reality is, both.

Why this becomes particularly interesting suddenly is that the successes are coming from multiple and different players, and in different phases.

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“I think individual guys have been gaining confidence,” said tight end Martellus Bennett. “Me with the Raiders [11 catches, TD], ‘Q’s’ [Marquess Wilson, six catches, TD] last week, Jay with those finishing drives… .

“So it's just a lot of guys just constantly working to get better. You're going to have to see those results. So guys are like, 'ok, let's do a little bit more, let's do a little bit more.' So it's just starting to feel real good.”

The self-image of the 2015 Bears as no-quit fighters, in their minds, was forged the past two weeks in particular but has been building.

The next step is Sunday in Detroit against a team that has beaten the Bears four straight times for the first time in about 40 years. There is a small undercurrent of both payback and statement-making, with the expectation that the Bears want very much not only to defeat the Lions, but physically maul them.

What went into the two wins “meant a lot because we are a lot better team than those first three losses there,” said guard Matt Slauson, “so to kind of get rewarded for all the effort and all the work we've been putting in since April, it was nice, now we have to keep it rolling.”

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is quickly becoming an icon in American sports. The two-time American League MVP is enjoying another dominant season batting .335 with 23 home runs and 48 RBI.

On Tuesday, he took a swing at what Bears fans may consider a shocking NFL prediction.

“I’ve got the Browns having a better record than the Bears,” Trout told a radio reporter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trout's comments were made in response the reporter "talking up" Chicago.

Both the Browns and Bears have had productive offseasons that involved headline-grabbing acquisitions on offense. Cleveland drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for WR Jarvis Landry, signed RB Carlos Hyde and drafted a backfield mate for him in Georgia's Nick Chubb. They added potential lockdown corner Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick, too. Add all that to a motivated Josh Gordon ready to contribute for a full season, and there's good reason to be excited in Cleveland.

Still, it's hard imagining Trout can be that confident in a team that's won only one game over the last two seasons. And let's not forget what GM Ryan Pace has done this offseason, one that's been praised by analysts from all corners of the NFL universe. From new coach Matt Nagy to free-agent WR Allen Robinson and all the skill players in between, the Bears are ready to make a legitimate run in the NFC North.

Trout doesn't strike out much in the major leagues, but this prediction feels like it could be a back-straining whiff.

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is former Bears star Matt Forte going to be the team’s new running backs coach?

For now, that’s Charles London’s job, who was hired to head coach Matt Nagy’s staff earlier this year.

But on Tuesday night, Forte tweeted that he would like a coaching spot with Chicago sometime in the near future.

Serving as evidence, the now-retired running back responded to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which announced the Broncos’ hiring of former linebacker Demarcus Ware as a “pass-rush consultant on a part-time basis.” Forte tweeted at the Bears, saying that he is “available” to take on a similar role to Ware’s new Denver gig.

Forte’s tweet was relatively cryptic, and he never specified exactly what type of job he would want with the Bears. After finishing up a storied career this past season and solidifying his name as a Bears legend, Forte has proven that he could easily coach young running backs or even wide receivers at some point.

But isn’t this all just a joke?

Forte silenced the doubters by tweeting “I wasn’t joking” as a response to an article saying that his desire for a new occupation with the Bears was simply a gag. The former workhorse was also intrigued by a fan’s tweet asking “Coach Forte??”

The mere thought of having Forte back in Chicago with the Bears’ coaching staff sent fans on Twitter into a frenzy. In April, Forte came back to Halas Hall to ink his name on a one-day contract, successfully allowing him to retire as a Bear. Now, Forte wants a lengthier stay in the Windy City.

Ware’s role with Denver is not extensive by any means and, according to Schefter, he will work a pretty scattered schedule with Broncos players. What Forte’s role would look like with the Bears is completely unknown if his plan to coach becomes a reality.

Forte has the running back credentials to take on a coaching position. In eight seasons with the Bears, Forte racked up a combined 8,602 rushing yards, second to only the great Walter Payton. Forte’s 4,116 receiving yards as a running back, 12,718 yards from scrimmage, 24 games with 100 rushing yards and 25 games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage also ranks second behind Payton.

Maybe this will be a new development in Chicago’s offseason plans, but there is no real talk of bringing one of the team’s all-time leading rushers back to the team as of right now.

Last month, NBC Sports Chicago announced Forte will be joining the network as a Bears game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. And we're not joking about that.