Skip to main content
Publish date:

Long Losing Streaks Invite Questions

The Bears are said to be calloused once again by losing but after several years of being toughened by defeat gets old and there is a perfect jumping-off point approaching.

Matt Nagy on Wednesday brought up his team being calloused again.

At least it's a better metaphor than saying they've become a punching bag following three straight years with four consecutive defeats or more.

"We had a bye week last year, too," Nagy said. "We lost six games in a row with a bye week stuck in between. The only way to get back to it is to say, 'OK, why is this going on?' 

"It's no one's fault other than everybody's."

Blaming everyone for this four-game skid is a good way to disperse pain. 

"It's not fun. We get it," Nagy said. "But again, and I know I've brought up before that you get calloused from these moments, but at the same point in time everyone talks about adversity builds character and all the coach-talk and everything.

"But what this does do is it makes you really get to see, when you go through these moments, you'd rather be in a lot more win steak moments, right? W."

To his credit, Nagy was given the opportunity later in the week to blame the Bears' losing streak or potential upcoming defeats on injuries, and he abstained. 

Losing Khalil Mack, having Akiem Hicks out or playing most of the season injured, missing Eddie Jackson and now Danny Trevathan and Allen Robinson seem legitimate reasons for losing streaks.

"Would you love to have all of those guys up for every game? Absolutely," Nagy said, before saying he focuses more on players who are "...fighting their butts off to get out there and play. And that's all you can ask for."

If losing callouses, then the Bears all should have the skin of alligators.

Coaching Staff Facing Inevitable Questions

The Bears against Baltimore are favored to lose their fifth straight. This would make it midseason losing streaks of four, six and five in successive seasons. 

When teams lose four or more for three straight years, there must be questions about the coaching, injuries or not. There really needs to be questions when this happens and the coaching staff has been in place for three-plus seasons. 

"The only way to start that win streak is to win," Nagy said. "I went through this last year. You have to get that first win. You fight together. Things start to go your way sometimes.

"Sometimes there's that one play where usually it didn't happen in the first eight, nine weeks, and now all of a sudden it changed. I don't know when that is or how that is—once one of that happens then it can be really good. We gotta make it happen. It's not gonna come to us. We have to make that play happen. And then you take off with it."

Did it happen against Pittsburgh? 

It is true the Bears turned around their fortunes last year after six straight defeats, but the schedule did this as much as anything. 

Facing Jacksonville, Houston and Minnesota in a three-week stretch didn't exactly look like this year's schedule. They even had another gimme mixed in there with Detroit after Matt Patricia's firing, and couldn't even get that easy win on their home field.

The Bears come off of a bye week now and four straight losses with a stretch of three games in four weeks not against cupcakes but against division leaders Baltimore, Green Bay and Arizona. Detroit is mixed in for turkey day "feast-ivities" on only a few days rest.

Read More

A skeptic, a cynic, a realist or even an opportunist could look at four straight losses, the upcoming schedule grind followed by a mini-bye, and envision an ideal time for an in-season firing if Nagy's team reaches six straight losses. 

The mini-bye gives a few extra days for the interim coach, possibly a Mike Pettine or Tom Herman, to get everyone on the staff and in the locker room refocused for the finish before the bloodletting of a complete offseason rebuild ensues.

However, the Bears never have fired a coach in-season. It's not a written policy. 

They have always tried to be fair and evaluate at season's end.  

Then they get out the axes.

Everyone Plays Firings by Ear 

There is no clear-cut number for consecutive losses as framework for firing coaches, from ancient ownership like this franchise has or even league-wide. Logic dictates that a coaching staff without a long, illustrious history of winning would be in trouble with three straight years of long losing streaks, but this simply isn't historically supported.

  • Of all people, Jerry Jones put up with a seven-game losing streak from Jason Garrett in his fifth year. He was rewarded with three consecutive winning seasons before finally changing coaches.
  • Ron Rivera went through some hellacious losing streaks in Carolina but got his team to a Super Bowl and stuck around until 2019.
  • Dan Quinn lost six straight in 2019 and got asked back by Atlanta owner Arthur Blank. Then Quinn rewarded Blank's patience with two five-game losing streaks in 2020 and was gone.

Using the Bears ownership standard, there has usually been more consistency of logic and patience than with many franchises, although the decision-making after eventual firings certainly needs to be questioned.

  • John Fox lost five straight and was fired after the 2017 season, his longest losing streak in Chicago. Nagy already bested that mark last year without penalty. 
  • Fox's 2016 team had four losing streaks of at least three games and one of those four games, yet Ryan Pace did not fire him until 2017.
  • Marc Trestman lost five in a row to end the 2014 season and was mercifully fired after two years.
  • All Lovie Smith had to do was lose three straight and miss the playoffs after a 7-1 start to get fired by Phil Emery in 2012. Maybe the organization realized the silliness of such a move two years later when they gave Emery the boot after a short Bears GM career that was entirely too long.  
  • If it's your time, it's your time, and Dick Jauron's Bears in 2003 were 7-9 with no losing streak longer than three straight. GM Jerry Angelo wanted to hire his own coach. He couldn't do it, because potential Bears coach Nick Saban wanted to run the team, too. So they settled for Smith. Jauron's team had lost eight in a row the previous year, and he had been spared so no one was surprised when the end came.
  • Dave Wannstedt lived off the generosity and ego of the late Michael McCaskey for three years before getting fired—McCaskey wasn't about to fire the guy he handpicked to replace Mike Ditka, and kept him around after losing seven straight to start his fifth season in 1997, then three in a row again later that year. It definitely helped that Wannstedt had two years left on his contract.

So there is no McCaskey family rhyme or reason to hiring and firing when it comes to losing, just the history of not doing it in-season.  

Only know that losing out for the rest of this season could mean a firing, or else it would mean the entire franchise faces a mob of people with torches and pitchforks at Halas Hall's gates. 

It's great that everyone is calloused now, but those pitchforks are rather pointed.

Twitter: BearDigest@onFanNation