By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — With the locker room doors shuttered, just the coach and his team, John Fox surveyed the scene of Monday’s meltdown.
The Bears had lost in ugly fashion for the second time in as many games, a 29-14 defeat handed by the Eagles, and heads were hanging. Fox has seen this many times during his 36 years as a coach. Those looks are what hamper a season and stunt organizational growth.
With that in mind, Fox worked the room and lifted those heads. Two games don’t define a season, he reminded.
“A lot of times, on the outside, it’s crisis or carnival,” Fox said. “We don’t look at it that way. It’s two games.”
Those on the outside — fans, media and observers — have the right to believe whatever they want about this Bears team. Frankly, they haven’t shown much of anything positive through two games. But on the inside, players can’t afford to think that way.
When doubt begins to creep in, success can’t be attained. The reality with these Bears is that they’re still young across the roster and facing Year 2 of an organizational rebuild under the leadership of Fox and general manager Ryan Pace.
Two bad games can’t diminish the Bears’ goals — nor should three, four or 16, no matter how many losses come. Don’t look at the injury report if you want to feel any better.
Fox and the Bears’ veterans have taken charge of the locker room sentiments and created a positive mindset.
“You look at the tape and realize that we’re right there,” receiver Eddie Royal said. “We just got to make a couple more plays. It’s not even that many plays, it’s just a few plays down the stretch and those losses will turn into wins.”
In reality, the Bears have been outscored 33-7 in the second halves of their two games, with Royal’s punt return for a touchdown with Monday’s game already decided serving as the lone score. But for the glass-half-full type, the Bears led for the entire first half of the opener against the Texans and a fair portion of the loss to the Eagles.
The Bears’ record stands as the only true indication of this team, but that’s not what players should believe.
“We’re definitely better than an 0-2 team, but it is what it is,” Royal added. “I know what I believe, but the reality is that we’re 0-2 and we’ve got to turn that around.”
Turning the season around starts on offense, where the Bears have failed to create any kind of flow. They can only throw it deep to Alshon Jeffery so often before needing to find another play.
Pace committed to Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey and Jordan Howard in the backfield in his decision to let Matt Forte walk. Where have those running backs been so far? The passing game has struggled to get in a consistent rhythm in part because the running game is hardly moving.
Defensively, the Bears would benefit from longer offensive possessions and a little extra rest on the sidelines. Why has the defense looked worn down as the game goes on? Because it was on the field for 36:19 in the opener and 36:05 in Week 2.
Of course, the defense can handle its own business and force a turnover or three-and-out. A handful of plays can change a game. The Bears aren’t making them happen.
“We emphasize it each and every day,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “Ultimately, we’ve just got to find the ball a little bit more. It comes with better play and better coaching.”
Coaches like Fangio are key in putting these young Bears in the right position, whether it’s rookie Leonard Floyd and his raw talents or Kevin White and his own physical gifts. The Bears coaches must do better, too.
Countless hours are spent at Halas Hall preparing for each game, no matter the Bears’ record. The players follow their coaches’ leads and rise or fall because of it.
“Obviously, we’d like to win some games,” guard Kyle Long said. “It would be nice to go down to Dallas and get a ‘W'”
Fox knows that his team needs a boost after two tough games. He recognized that quickly after Monday’s loss.
Until they can find a positive result, all the Bears can do for now is believe that it will get better, no matter what’s said outside the shuttered locker room doors.