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Despite ‘awkward’ feeling, Mike Singletary hopes Bears improve

Mike Singletary said the Bears' defense needs an identity. (AP)

HOUSTON — Despite calling his relationship with his former team awkward, Hall of Famer Mike Singletary said it was maddening to watch the Bears struggle to improve in recent years.

“Anytime your team is not winning, it’s frustrating,” the former linebacker said Thursday. “Obviously, that’s understood. Hopefully, they find the right pieces and start putting it in place.”

He called the Bears a great franchise that has been “trying to do what they need to do,” but aren’t there yet.

“I think they’re trying to put the pieces in place,” he said.

Singletary returned to coaching in June after a two-year hiatus, joining the Rams as a defensive assistant. The former 49ers boss would like to be a head coach again; he interviewed for the Bears job that went to Marc Trestman in 2013.

“The Bears situation has been a little awkward,” he said.

“I had a chance to interview a couple of years ago. As a player with the Bears, they remember you a certain way. When you have a player, you go, ‘He was a great player, but I don’t know as a coach.’ ’’

He referred to himself as “kind of a book that they’ve read — but I’ve grown since then.”

Once known for its bruising style, the Bears’ defense needs to define itself again, he said.

“I think they have some good players,” Singletary said. “I think it’s just a matter of, everything comes down to a mindset and identity. Who are we?”

It’s a good question.

“Without pointing a finger, the Bears have gone through the transition of redefining that identity,” he said. “Getting back to that place they want to be — hopefully, this offseason, they can find it.”

Defense, he said, “should always be sexy.”

“Some teams make the argument that with the rules they have today, you go out and score as many points as you can, and everybody’s happy,” Singletary said. “For me, defense is like finance — it’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how much you keep.”

He said he respects what coach John Fox is “doing and trying to do.”

“If there’s ever an opportunity to come home,” he said, “they know where I’m at.”

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Email: pfinley@suntimes.com