By Chris Emma–
(CBS) It didn’t take long for Danny Trevathan — Super Bowl gold and all — to feel right at home with the Bears.
Among many reasons, Trevathan was eager to be in Chicago because he could rejoin coach John Fox, play for defensive mastermind Vic Fangio, pick up a big payday as the leader of a revamped defense and more. But one aspect kept coming up when the Bears’ new inside linebacker spoke of his change in scenery. He said it over and over during the introductions last Thursday.
Fresh out of Super Bowl glory, Trevathan believes the Bears can win.
“I hate losing,” Trevathan said in an exclusive interview with CBSChicago.com. “I’ve been on a losing team and a winning team. Guess which I like more?
“I believe we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to.”
Early into free agency, Trevathan and tackle Bobby Massie were first through the doors of Halas Hall — two key starters signed to the Bears, beginning a run of 12 players added or re-added to the roster.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace has signed seven projected starters to the roster during this offseason, including the likes of inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, defensive end Akiem Hicks and the re-signing of important 2015 contributors like tight end Zach Miller and cornerback Tracy Porter.
It has been a fruitful free-agency period in Chicago, where Pace and his front office have an estimated $20 million in cap space still remaining to secure depth. Pace attacked the offseason by adding talented playmakers in their prime at reasonable costs.
There’s a clear common confidence in where the Bears are headed.
“I’m a believer,” Hicks said. “I’ve seen the moves they’ve made, and I’m excited to be part of that.”
The 2015 season, Miller’s second in Chicago, saw positive steps from rock bottom, with the Bears finishing 6-10 on the campaign. Still, Fox established himself as the new leader and the team built a culture. Miller was a pleasant surprise last season, remaining healthy and productive enough to earn his way back.
One of the key draws for Miller returning to Chicago was the chance to be a part of a winning team. He new regime constructing something the Bears can win with.
“The way Ryan (Pace) is moving forward with things and coach Fox’s vision, the arrow is pointing up,” Miller said. “I wanted to be here.”
Before Pace assumed the general manager’s office and Fox was picked as coach, Halas Hall was overcome with problems.
Former Bears coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery oversaw a team with major chaos in the locker room. People simply dreaded coming to work in 2014. The jobs of Pace and Fox required a devoted effort to rid the building of bad influences and allow a winning culture to develop.
Hardly a year later, players aren’t running away from Halas Hall — instead, they want to be there. Football in Chicago has a winning feel all of a sudden, even before the games start.
“I wanted to be on a team that has a legitimate chance to win,” Hicks said.
Added Trevathan: “That (winning) attitude is going to spread like wildfire. It’s going to be contagious.”
Trevathan, who turns 26 next week, is eager to assume a key leadership role for the Bears’ defense. He will direct Fangio’s unit on the field and attempt to bring that winning edge in the offseason. Trevathan said he’s ready to lay down the law for how to win the Super Bowl, something he learned from veteran Broncos teammates.
For Massie, a former Cardinals tackle and key piece of Bruce Arians’ turnaround in Arizona, the sentiments are similar. There’s a firm desire to win in Chicago.
“Either you like getting your ass kicked or you don’t,” said Massie, the man whose self-proclaimed task with the Bears is to “move people” from the line of scrimmage.
The Bears spent free agency looking first for game-changing players who can impact the scoreboard on any given play. Pace used his background in pro personnel to identify steals on the market, while trusting his scouting teams along the way.
What stands out from the group is its collective success. Trevathan just won a ring in this past Super Bowl 50, Porter had the championship-clinching pick-six in Super Bowl XLIV, Massie comes from a successful team in Arizona, Freeman was part of three playoff berth in Indianapolis and Hicks experienced the postseason in New Orleans and watched Bill Belichick’s work in New England. The Bears have brought in winners.
Chicago seems to have a winning culture in place — one that has free agents wanting to join the Bears and fight for the Super Bowl in the years to come. As Miller said, Pace and Fox have the arrow pointing up.
“Their vision is very clear,” Miller said. “The goal in mind is definitely to win a championship here. That’s something I want to be a part of.”