The unhappiest winning team in the NFL? Bears say it’s too early to get stressed

The Bears have performed below their expectations, and it has been a rough couple of weeks. But at 3-2, they’re emphasizing patience over succumbing to frustration.

SHARE The unhappiest winning team in the NFL? Bears say it’s too early to get stressed

Allen Robinson leads the Bears with 31 catches for 377 yards.

AP Photos

It feels like forever since Halas Hall was jubilant. The Mile High Miracle was more than a month ago, and that joy ride fizzled fast with kicker Eddy Pineiro landing on the injury report by the end of the week.

It’s been a bumpy ride for the Bears through the first month and a half of their season, and the team that came in talking about not only a Super Bowl run, but launching a dynasty, is now clinging to respectability at 3-2.

But in the surest sign of coach Matt Nagy’s credibility within his locker room, the Bears seem to have adopted his ever-sunny disposition.

Never mind that the offense is among the NFL’s least productive, and the defense has been stewing over its breakdown against the Raiders for two weeks, their two most recognizable line-of-scrimmage players — defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and right guard Kyle Long — are on Injured Reserve and the Packers are on fire.

The Bears don’t seem nearly as stressed and unhappy about this uninspiring start as those on the outside. They’re emphasizing patience and optimism, which can be a tough sell when things aren’t going as planned.

“We don’t panic around here,” safety Eddie Jackson said. “We know it’s early in the season. We know what type of team we have.

“The way the team has responded this week, so far, has been a great response. Everyone is happy with where we are right now.”

The Bears need to string together wins merely to make the playoffs, let alone present a convincing case as a contender.

They keep pointing to being above .500, but that’s an illusion. If they keep winning three out of every five games, they’ll be 9-6 going into the finale and suddenly not feeling so proud.

Much of their confidence is built on last season’s success, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The Bears brought back almost all their starters from 2018, and those players are reasonable in assuming they’ll regain that form.

Even with the offense’s flaws, the Bears were 21st in total yardage and ninth in points last season. That sounds remarkably enticing for a team that now ranks 30th and 26th in those categories, respectively. If they can climb even to the middle of the pack, it would dramatically improve their chances.

“I think it’s always about patience,” said wide receiver Allen Robinson, who would have more justification than anyone for being agitated about the offense because he’s been by far the best player on that side of the ball.

“I don’t think you can get frustrated. Me being frustrated or anyone else being frustrated isn’t gonna make us a better offense or a better team.”

Incidentally, it was around this time last year that the Bears went on a run that turned their season around. From a 3-3 start, they won five straight and nine of their final 10 games to win the NFC North.

The upcoming stretch initially looked like an improbable time to make a push, but fortune tilted toward the Bears.

The Saints were already coming to Soldier Field on Sunday without Drew Brees. Now they’re down star running back Alvin Kamara after he got hurt last week. It’ll be just the second missed game of his career.

Then come the Chargers, who look like a shell of the team that went 12-4 last season, and winnable games against the Eagles (3-3), Lions (2-2-1), Rams (3-3) and Giants (2-4). The next opponent that currently has a winning record is the Packers, whom the Bears visit in Week 15.

So while a lot has gone wrong, the Bears’ buoyancy seems more sensible than delusional.

“The mood in the locker room is great,” defensive tackle Nick Williams said. “We believe in ourselves, we believe in this defense and we believe in this team as a whole.

“The mood hasn’t changed. We’re still upbeat, still ready to go.”

The Latest
The Bears are hoping teams trade up to take quarterbacks, improving their options with the No. 9 pick.
There was a wave of excitement around the Bulls in the early years of the Karnisovas regime, but it now feels like once Plan A broke down on the side of the road there was no Plan B. It’s time for Karnisovas to use that “creativity” he claims to have.
Asked before Sunday’s series finale against the Marlins if Alzolay is his closer, Cubs manager Craig Counsell said, “I don’t think today he would be.”
British conductor, who led nearly 700 Lyric performances of 62 operas, died in Chicago from leukemia.