LAKE FOREST – For all the positivity that was flowing in the offseason, it was a shocking way to begin the season, and now its reversed the flow of emotions for those outside the Bears’ organization.
Now there is some doubt about this team’s ability to live up to the preseason expectations, especially the offense, after a 10-3 loss to the Packers Thursday night.
That’s how it goes in a very reactionary sports world, especially in the NFL, specifically in a city where Super Bowl thoughts have crept into fan’s heads for the first time in nearly a decade.
It makes this loss seem a little worse than the one the Bears suffered to open the 2018 season, in which they dropped a 20-point lead in a loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field. After all, so much was expected this year from the Bears, whereas a year ago the team actually surprised fans with their strong start, causing some excitement beyond the defeat.
Matt Nagy disagrees with that notion.
“To the outsiders, it might feel different, but to us, they feel the same. They both stung. They both were hard to get over,” said Nagy of his two opening-week losses in his tenure at the Bears’ head coach. “But in life and in sports, in particular, the question is how do you respond, right?
“So that’s some adversity that hit us and now the biggest question is, every week that goes by, how does our team respond to it.”
Last year, it was pretty good.
The Bears would go onto beat the Seahawks on Monday Night Football the next week, then rally to knock off the Cardinals in Week 3 on the road. A blowout of the Buccaneers at home sent the Bears into the bye week at 3-1 with the lead in the NFC North.
This year, getting back on track before the bye includes two-straight road games against the Broncos & Redskins before another division game against the Vikings at Soldier Field on September 29th. Then it’s a trip to London for the game against the Raiders on October 6th before the off week.
Last year’s response and the fact a number of the same players are back on this year’s team gives the group confidence it can be done again.
“We know how to deal with adversity, and that’s what I love most about this team, about this locker room,” said safety Eddie Jackson. “We came in today to practice and everyone was flying around and being on top of their keys. Everyone’s more locked-in; their more in-tune with it.
“Like I said, it’s either you either want that feeling in your stomach again or you don’t. So right now we’ll determine that in how we come out this week and prepare for Denver.”
That includes the offense, which was much maligned after the opener against the Packers after a three-point, 254-yard performance.
“Just us not pointing any fingers at anybody,” said Gabriel. “Not blaming one person, this position, just all taking it in the whole and taking it as a loss, and just using it as motivation, and I feel like that’s what we’re doing.”
Whether it’s working or not will depend on the next few weeks.