Bears’ culture club — all for one, and one for all

With Justin Fields and Eddie Jackson leading the way, the Bears are hanging together despite losing seven of eight. “The things that get you through those tough stretches are good people that have some moral fiber,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. “We have that.”

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Chicago Bears v Atlanta Falcons

Bear quarterback Justin Fields (1) huddles with teammates prior to last week’s game against the Falcons.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The disparity in accountability in the aftermath of the Jets’ loss to the Patriots and the Bears’ loss to the Falcons couldn’t have been more stark.

About the same time Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was irking teammates, fans, former players, Hall of Famers and national NFL analysts by dismissing his own responsibility for a 10-3 loss last week, saying he didn’t feel he let the defense down, seemingly every Bear was blaming himself for a 27-24 loss to the Falcons.

Quarterback Justin Fields made a point to apologize to the team for his role. Before he could finish, safety Eddie Jackson stopped him and told him it was unnecessary.

Wilson’s attitude probably doesn’t represent the Jets’ locker-room culture, but Fields’ and Jackson’s attitudes definitely represent the Bears’. In fact, a similar scenario played out when reporters entered the locker room for postgame interviews. Safety DeAndre Houston-Carson was among multiple special-teams players to take responsibility for Cordarrelle Patterson’s 103-yard kickoff return that made the difference in the game.

“That one’s on me,” Houston-Carson said. “I want to make every play. That one’s on me.”

As soon as those words were spoken, teammate Elijah Hicks, overhearing Houston-Carson’s comment in the next locker, interjected, “And it wasn’t on him.”

The Bears have what arguably is a rebuilding team’s dream scenario heading into Sunday’s game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium: a 3-8 record, a competitive team, a developing quarterback, the No. 3 pick in the draft and great team culture.

Ah, culture. The Bears have lost four consecutive games and seven of their last eight. In the four consecutive losses, the offense has scored 28.8 points per game (fifth in the NFL in that span), while the defense has allowed 28.8 points per game (31st). Special teams have allowed two touchdowns. The offense has allowed two touchdowns. There’s blame to go around for everyone. But, for whatever it’s worth, the Bears are Team Kumbaya.

Having seen good culture and leadership turn to dust too many times at Halas Hall, I dared to scoff this week at the notion of culture, which seems overrated. But defensive coordinator Alan Williams was having none of it.

“Can I stop you right there and say ‘never’?” Williams said. “It’s never overrated.”

It’s an NFL truth: Coaches value culture as much as fans value the No. 3 draft pick.

“My first year in the league when I was in Tampa, Rich McKay [the Buccaneers’ general manager] said, ‘Never underestimate good leadership and good people in the locker room,’ ” Williams said. “That always stuck with me in terms of culture being one of the things that helps you win.

“I’ve been in the NFL long enough to go through some tough stretches. The things that get you through those tough stretches are good people — good players that have some moral fiber about them. I think we have that.”

Williams said it starts from the top, with general manager Ryan Poles and coach Matt Eberflus.

“The messages they give, the type of people they bring,” he said.

Poles got off to a rough start when three players were arrested in the offseason: receiver Byron Pringle (reckless driving, suspended license), linebacker Matt Adams (possession of a loaded firearm without a state license) and receiver David Moore (drug and weapons charges). But the Bears have since stayed off the police blotter and have passed every character test.

“Most teams fall apart from within — it’s not external forces,” Williams said. “When you have guys that like each other, that have some moral fiber, that when things aren’t going well they don’t . . . splinter, they work harder. They sacrifice more for themselves. That can’t help but build your team in a positive way.”

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