Sprinkler splashes may be turning to fireplace ashes, but let’s pump the breaks on hitting the big red button and claiming the Chicago Bears are finished.
Sure, the Bears walked into Arrowhead Stadium Sunday afternoon and were eviscerated, 41-10, at the hands of the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Yes, their performance was so lackluster that Taylor Swift took center stage by halftime, who sat perched in box seats, driving speculative rumors through the roof about a possible budding romance between her and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce as she watched on with his family.
Some Bears fans may even want to draw upon Swift’s lyrics to describe their experience on Sunday.
“And you want to scream, ‘don’t call me kid, don’t call me baby … Look at this godforsaken mess that you made me,’” Swift said on Illicit Affairs from her Folklore album.
But I’d advise Chicago faithful of another Swift lyric, “You said it was a great love, one for the ages … if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?”
If history is any source of optimism, then there are plenty of reasons why this team can still shake it off and turn things around, despite the dumpster fire we’ve seen so far.
In his press conference Monday afternoon, Bears head coach Matt Eberflus said this Chicago team is close, and compared them to one of his previous teams.
“There’s countless examples of that throughout the history of the NFL ,” Eberflus said. “Our 2018 [Indianapolis] Colts were that way. We started 1-5 and everyone was looking at us like, ‘not a very good team.’”
Eberflus was the defensive coordinator for that squad, and after going 1-5, the 2018 Colts went 9-1 over their final 10 games, capping off a complete 180 reversal of their fortunes with a wildcard win in the playoffs against the Houston Texans, before eventually being eliminated by the Chiefs in the divisional round.
If the Bears want to mirror those Colts, a flashpoint moment needs to happen. For the Colts, that was a mid-October players-only meeting where they hashed out their issues as a group.
According to then-IndyStar sportswriter Zak Keefer, the meeting’s inception started with veteran backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who decided enough was enough after broaching the idea with others on the team days earlier.
The meeting included an impassioned speech from Colts first round pick Quenton Nelson, and established veterans like defensive end Jabaal Sheard and linebacker Najee Goode making their voices heard.
Nelson helped galvanize his rookie class into taking a step forward, while Sheard and Goode – who were both former Super Bowl champions at the time – helped solidify the mentality of the rest of the roster.
Indianapolis went on to blow out the Buffalo Bills, 37-5, in their week seven matchup and they clicked from that game on.
So, who are those players for the Bears?
Naturally, rookie offensive tackle Darnell Wright could be Chicago’s motivational Quenton Nelson, while running back Roschon Johnson is another rookie who’s already in the mix with the first stringers.
Recently acquired veterans like Yannick Ngakoue, T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds could be those veteran voices who galvanize the roster into taking the next step. They have 19 total games of playoff experience between them, with Edwards playing in the Super Bowl last year with the Philadelphia Eagles, and Ngakoue and Edmunds having each played in a conference championship before.
If a blend of rookie and veteran players can get the entire team to believe in both the present and the future, next the roster has to play a complete game to get the ball rolling, just like how the Colts did some five years ago.
The ingredients behind Indianapolis’s success against that Bills team in 2018 are synonymous with how the Bears want to be successful now-a-days – playing great defense, effectively running the ball, and making key plays when needed in the pass game.
The Colts forced five turnovers on defense and outgained Buffalo 220-135 on the ground, while Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck connected on 17 of 23 passes for 156 yards and four touchdowns.
As luck would have it, the Bears next opponent is a team amidst turmoil too. The Denver Broncos just gave up the third-most points ever in a 70-20 demolition at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, and travel to face the Bears at Soldier Field this Sunday.
Through three games, the Broncos defense has given up 40.7 points-per-game (last in the NFL), surrendered 177.7 rush yards-per-game (second-to-last in the NFL), and collected only one turnover.
Here’s to hoping Chicago can channel a little bit of the 2018 Indianapolis Colts and manifest a magnificent turnaround this weekend, otherwise it may be time to hit that big red button because they’re toast if they can’t get past a team like Denver.
This piece is a weekly column that will be published on Monday evenings following each Bears game for the rest of the NFL season. For more on the Bears and other Chicago sports from WGN News, you can follow Eli Ong, Larry Hawley and Jarrett Payton on X.