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Bears Looking for Positives Again

A third straight season with a losing streak of at least four games has the Bears soul searching as they begin a stretch of four games that includes three against division leaders.

"Losing is a contagious as polio. Losing is a contagious as syphilis. Losing is a contagious as bubonic plague...attacking one but infecting all. Ah, but curable."

The line from the Robert Redford movie "The Natural" came from some early fictional form of sports psychologist or motivational speaker.

The Bears see no need for Matt Foley to exit his van down by the river to come convince them they can win. They've got it.

At least they believe this, and that's half the battle.

"We're just trying to find solutions and how we can get through this," guard Cody Whitehair said. "Obviously it's tough, but the guys are working hard. You definitely see guys coming to work every day with the right mindset and trying to find a way to get out of this.

"And it just takes one win and then we can start stacking them."

Getting that one win is the tough part.

The Bears have some things working in their favor when they face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at Soldier Field. Two of their three wins came against AFC teams. It's a start.

They are facing a pass defense ranked 28th overall and quarterback Justin Fields just started to get into a groove to end their last game against Pittsburgh.

"It's definitely something we need to carry over, which it will," running back David Montgomery said. "It just shows the character and the trust we have in each other to keep going and keep fighting when the odds are stacked against us.

"Now we just try to capitalize on that, continue to get better every day so that we can go out and actually win games."

There's much more working against them, as there always seems to be in losing streaks, like key injuries to Khalil Mack (foot), Akiem Hicks (ankle) and Allen Robinson (hamstring).

"It's always hard when you lose, obviously, the emotion losing a close game like we did in Pittsburgh, but we know how close we are," Whitehair said. "So we've just gotta come to work and fix the little things and try not to beat ourselves, and that's what we’re doing."

For some players, it's a new experience. Asked whether it was his first experience with losing on this scope, Fields responded: "You are correct."

The bye week provided little respite for the Bears after their narrow loss, only more time to stew.

"You can't dwell over the four losses you have; you've just got to keep moving and keep pushing forward, so ...," Fields said.

To be certain, a four-game losing streak is nothing historical. Even from a Bears standpoint it isn't.

The longest NFL losing streak of all time is 29 games by a team that really was two teams -- a combined Steelers and Cardinals team during World War II, when they were combined due to lack of manpower. Tampa Bay came out of the gates as a franchise losing 26 straight, causing coach John McKay's famous line following a loss when asked about his team's execution: "I'd be in favor of it."

In more recent times, Jacksonville ended a 20-game losing streak Oct. 19. Maybe worse, Cleveland had two losing streaks of 17 games that it ended in successive seasons, one on Dec. 18, 2016 and the other on Dec. 31, 2017.

The Houston Texans own the longest current NFL losing streak at eight. If they win and the Bears lose, then look out. The current Bears losing streak of four is the league's second-longest existing streak. 

The Bears are only halfway to the franchise's longest losing streak ever. They have lost eight straight five times, the last one running from the end of Marc Trestman's coaching regime in 2014 into the start of John Fox's three years.

When they've gone on losing streaks of at least this length three straight years, it becomes disturbing. Yet, they are convinced coach Matt Nagy's approach of simply winning the first game can trigger a turnaround.

"It's kind of the 1-0 mentality and trying to find that win so we can get back to getting on a roll and making a push," tight end Jimmy Graham said. "And then really just playing for each other, blocking out a lot of the noise outside of the building, either positive or negative and then just focusing on each other and realizing kind of what we have ahead of ourselves, especially with a lot of these young guys on our team."

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At least no one is suggesting they turn off the television sets in Halas Hall to block out negativity, the way Mitchell Trubisky did a few years ago.

It's easier to be positive when Fields mania still rages and they experienced success passing on a large scale for the first time two weeks ago, although it seems somewhat more like two years ago following a bye week.

"We've kinda got a taste of what this offense can do, and I'm really excited about it going forward," Whitehair said.

Winning can be just as contagious, but they need one first.

Longest Bears Losing Streaks

(Year and coach)

8 Games

Nov. 27, 2014-Sept. 27, 2015 Marc Trestman, John Fox

Sept. 22, 2002-Nov. 18, 2002 Dick Jauron

Dec. 22, 1996-Oct. 12, 1997 Dave Wannstedt

Sept. 25, 1978-Nov. 12, 1978 Neill Armstrong

Dec. 15, 1968-Nov. 2, 1969 Jim Dooley

6 Games

Oct. 26, 2020-Dec. 6, 2020 Matt Nagy

Dec 11, 2016-Sept. 17, 2017 Fox

Dec. 26, 1999-Sept. 24, 2000 Jauron

Nov. 8, 1998-Dec. 13, 1998 Wannstedt

Nov. 2, 1992-Dec. 7, 1992 Mike Ditka

Nov. 19, 1989-Dec. 24, 1989 Ditka

Nov. 12, 1973-Dec. 16, 1973 Abe Gibron

Nov. 21, 1971-Sept. 17, 1972 Gibron

Nov. 16, 1969-Dec. 21, 1969 Dooley