Bears See Value in Fighting the Good Fight
There is a pace to every NFL season, and when teams stray from this flow then it can be an indication of problems.
The normal process for teams missing the playoffs is to continue battling until official elimination, suffer a bit of a letdown initially, and then regroup somewhat as players battle to save their jobs for next season.
When the Bears face the New York Giants Sunday in a noon game at Soldier Field they haven't even hit the elimination phase yet, although they're close.
For the Bears (4-6) to come in and collapse against the Giants (2-8), a team with a six-game losing streak in the midst of a complete rebuild , would be disturbing.
It might even be the red flag indicating true problems, but they insist they're not quitting.
"Four and six—can't change that, won't change that," linebacker Roquan Smith said. "But we do have an opportunity to change outcome for this weekend, make that five wins this week. So that's our goal and that's our main focus."
To date, coach Matt Nagys says there is no evidence of players giving up, nothing indicating they have stopped caring about little things which can lead to collapses.
It's a good thing considering their final four games come against likely playoff teams Dallas, Green Bay, Kansas City and Minnesota.
"They can never take that for granted because they've got to take that to the field," Nagy said. "And then if you see any sloppiness or repeated mistakes because of the demeanor of where you're at that day, that week, that game, you have to confront them and you've got to let them know, whoever it is, it doesn't matter whether it's the quarterback, the wide receiver, the DB, the D-lineman.
"I'm about open communication and letting them know when it's good and when it's bad."
They haven't reached the point of feeling sorry for themselves, and tossing around excuses.
And if anyone could make excuses, it's pass rusher Khalil Mack after facing a barrage of double- and triple-teams. He acknowledges it's been difficult to overcome.
"But even then, you know what I mean, there are no excuses from me," Mack said.
There is too much pride on the defensive side of the ball to think they'd call it a season before the elimination point, if ever. Even with key injuries to Akiem Hicks and Danny Trevathan, they remain focused while using reserves.
"I kind of keep telling you that these guys are special, man," Mack said. "Just understanding that you've got different guys that step in even though we're facing a little adversity, and that's especially losing a guy like Danny Trevathan.
"These guys step in and they try not to let it drop too much, and it shows up on the field."
Their own offense and struggles of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky haven't yet broken the defensive players' backs.
The offense has to believe it can pull together against a Giants defense with problems preventing big plays.
By doing so, they could make a statement about adversity taking the team somewhere positive in the future.
"It reveals character, and you've just got to stay positive through it all, Believe it's going to turn and make you into a tougher person and player," Trubisky said. "And just continue to find ways to help lead this team and get us to turn over all these lows we're going through.
"I'm trying to stay positive and just work through these injuries and whatnot and find ways to win."
The battle is a key part of the process, even if it's leading nowhere else this season.