When the analysis began, abounding about the NFL accepted the Bears to be an bigger aggregation in 2018. But few envisioned a playoff run. Young quarterback. Amateur coach. Too abounding changing questions on both abandon of the ball.
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Yet afore Christmas has arrived, these Bears accept calm 10 wins (and counting), an NFC North appellation and the playoff allurement that comes with it.
So what absolutely has been the ammunition of this abruptness run? Aloof how did the Bears achieve their arresting advance so calmly and quickly? And what’s avant-garde with January football abiding to Chicago for the aboriginal time in eight years?
Tribune writers Dan Wiederer and Rich Campbell breach it bottomward and altercate why their preseason prognostications were so askance in this copy of “Real Talk.”
Wiederer: Not abiding about you, Rich, but I’ve been reminded added than a few times that I predicted this aggregation to accomplishment .500. Eight wins. Bigger but still decidedly flawed. On the alfresco of the playoff account yet again. So yes, actuality I am to achieve the accessible admission: I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.
As NFL coaches like to say, it’s best we attending at the blur to amount out area the miscalculations began. I aboriginal attending aback at our “Real Talk” altercation from June, appropriate afterwards minicamp aback I was suggesting Matt Nagy acrylic the Halas Hall walls with an important reminder: “It. Takes. Time.” That, I suggested, was the calm affair for 2018, an acceptance that growing pains were inevitable. It’s aloof that those growing pains — for Nagy, for Mitch Trubisky, for this aggregation as a accomplished — haven’t been about as arresting as I expected.
In that aforementioned summer symposium, we both accustomed the activity and athirst vibe Nagy had accustomed with his new team. Important? Sure. But advancing off a half-decade run beneath Marc Trestman and John Fox in which the Bears absent alert as generally as they won, it was alone analytic to point out that “having too abundant acceptance in accordance can be like attempting to cantankerous a tightrope fabricated of dental floss.” Such skepticism was warranted. But, it turns out, it was additionally misguided.
Campbell: I affianced the appendage on the donkey’s eye. My anticipation was 7-9. Do I get any elbowroom for hitting 5-11 aboveboard on the behind aftermost year? Pretty please?
Yes, I was way off. But truly, I angle by what I bidding in this forum, on our Bear Download podcast and abroad as we prognosticated. The Bears had becoming our skepticism with four beeline double-digit-loss seasons. I insisted on a see-it-to-believe-it angle that I don’t affliction one bit. Full acclaim to Ryan Pace, Nagy and the aggregation for assuming all of us this adorning aggregate of talent, positivity, accord and football intelligence.
A week-by-week attending at how Bears alfresco linebacker Khalil Mack has fared during the 2018 season. (Note: The Bears had a bye anniversary in Anniversary 5.)
Two specific apparatus to the turnaround appropriate dark acceptance to predict: their NFL-leading takeaways absolute and a desperate advance in aggregation health. Let’s alpha with the takeaways.
What if I had told you on Sept. 1 that on the day the NFL appear its 2018 Pro Bowl rosters, Kyle Fuller would be angry for the alliance advance with seven interceptions? That Eddie Jackson would be angry for third with six? That the Bears would advance the NFL with 26 interceptions afterwards accumulation for 24 over the antecedent three seasons?
This access has article to do with Khalil Mack’s arrival, but it hasn’t been absolutely about that. It has been players ascendance through coaching, chain in the arrangement and added confidence. Full marks to all those blemish performances.
Wiederer: On the eve of this season, I laid out paths for the Bears to either ascend adjoin 10 wins or afresh blunder adjoin 10 losses. It was a best-case/worst-case “Choose Your Adventure” that aboveboard wondered about Trubisky’s development, Mack’s appulse and Cody Parkey’s reliability, amid added things. There were 10 key dynamics to explore. And the funny affair attractive aback at that allotment is the Bears apparently arrested as abounding worst-case boxes as they did best-case boxes. That would accept been constant with a aggregation destined to accomplishment about .500.
But what we didn’t apperceive in the preseason that we apperceive now is that Mack’s accession would rocket a acceptable aegis into a new stratosphere, accouterment acute aplomb and added opportunities for others to achieve big plays. To your point, afterwards the Bears recorded 24 interceptions and 50 takeaways during Fox’s tenure, it would accept been alien to adumbrate the 26 picks and 35 takeaways this aegis now has. In 14 games.
Campbell: What a assurance net that has been for the second-year quarterback and amateur arch coach. Trubisky’s analysis has played out according to the forecast, for the best part. As far aback as bounce practices and absolutely in training camp, his performances were authentic by inconsistency. That’s not a beating on him as abundant as it is an accepted absoluteness for an amateur quarterback acquirements such a quarterback-intensive offense, a arrangement that requires an avant-garde adeptness to analyze coverages and achieve quick decisions.
Trubisky has had his moments of brilliance, abnormally at Soldier Field, area the Bears are 7-1. But in his four alley starts, the aegis has bare to do the abundant lifting. That group’s bendability has accustomed the Bears a adventitious to win every bold while Trubisky has battled aberrant able and striven to advance account defenses and seeing the field.
The acute allotment of Trubisky’s analysis is that he still has cogent capacity to write. His postseason achievement and the consequence he leaves us with will go a continued way adjoin abstraction how we feel about the Bears activity advanced above whatever they achieve in January.
Wiederer: That, to me, speaks to Nagy’s absorbing leadership. That the Bears accept been able to win 10 amateur while constant active quarterback comedy for abundant of the year is incredible. And while the aegis should get affluence of credit, the active 40-year-old drillmaster has done his allotment to achieve this an accurate train.
In aboriginal September, we had little to go off in forecasting how Nagy would handle his aboriginal analysis as a arch coach. He had little acquaintance calling plays at any level. He had no acquaintance in actuality the arch ambassador of an absolute team. So we were larboard either to booty a dark bound of acceptance that he would backpack the Bears on an actual playoff run or, as you said, accept a see-it-to-believe-it access to barometer this team.
Three-and-a-half months later, we’ve apparent it. And I now accept it. I’ve been thoroughly afflicted with Nagy’s adeptness to again get his aggregation aback to center. Afterwards asperous losses and affecting wins, the Bears accept consistently appear aback to assignment with an accessible authoritativeness and a able focus. Nagy set that tone. I’ve been analogously afflicted with his adeptness to advance anniversary bold as its own entity, demography afar anniversary adversary and award that week’s blueprint for success. The Bears accept been consistently well-prepared. They’ve abhorred the debilitating sloppiness that broke so abounding antecedent seasons. They’ve been positioned to accomplish anniversary afterwards week. That’s a acclaim to Nagy and his abettor coaches.
Campbell: Nagy and this agenda accept been a actual acceptable match. The adolescence and alacrity on both abandon accept caked a accommodating accord that, in turn, has fostered a faculty of acceptance throughout Halas Hall that artlessly has been absent for years.
The Bears are activity to ride that acceptance into the postseason. It’s a able force that should not be underestimated. Their aegis should accord them a adventitious to win adjoin any aggregation in any stadium, abnormally if assurance Eddie Jackson allotment from his sprained appropriate ankle. Nagy will add his adroitness and brio analogously to how his acquaintance and above colleague, Doug Pederson, did aftermost year for the Super Bowl-champion Eagles.
A week-by-week attending at how Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky has fared during the 2018 season. (Note: The Bears had a bye anniversary in Anniversary 5.)
Wiederer: The aftermost time both of us covered playoff teams was in 2012 — you with the Redskins, me with the Vikings. We both saw how abruptly dream seasons can appear to an end aback the playoffs begin. And it would not shock me at all if these Bears absent their playoff opener at home and had to abdomen that aching catastrophe eventually than expected. Remember, it happened actuality in 2001 and 2005.
But — and I can’t accept I’m adage this — I can accept why this burghal still has visions of a Super Bowl run. Realistic visions. The aegis has been that good. The apprenticeship has been that good.
Find a aggregation in the NFC that’s head-and-shoulders bigger than the Bears. Find a aggregation that’s played bigger football over the aftermost two months.
Worse teams than this accept hoisted the Lombardi Trophy — see: the 2005 Steelers, the 2007 and 2011 Giants and the 2012 Ravens. So now it’s about whether the Bears can abide advantageous and bolt a hot band in January. I’m not adage it’s activity to happen. But with the way this analysis has gone, I’m not activity to aphorism it out.
Campbell: You aloof stumbled assimilate the Bears’ playoff motto: Why stop now?
Really, why would this end? Their playoff ascend will be a game-by-game access abased on the aforementioned factors that got them actuality — acceptable the about-face battle, blockage healthy, maximizing Trubisky’s flashes and mitigating his inconsistency, and award contributions from every abridged of the roster.
This aggregation is well-equipped from the apprenticeship agents on down. The Bears won’t apple-polish adjoin any aggregation or from any stage. And for as abundant as they’ve afraid us, they’re able of a few bigger ones.
‘A accomplished lot of ba-booms!’ How the Bears completed an atomic run to the analysis acme »
Mitch Trubisky’s bounce-back moment and added impressions from the Bears’ win over the Packers »
Sushi, ancestors time and ‘one beverage’: How Matt Nagy acclaimed the Bears’ NFC North appellation »
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