Soul Searching by Bears Leads to Players-Only Meeting

Gene Chamberlain

For better or worse, the Bears are rushing to back their quarterback, as well as each other.

As coach Matt Nagy had predicted, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears have come under fire from all sides after their 36-25 loss to New Orleans. Players on Tuesday expressed the need to follow their coach's suggestion to isolate themselves together from the severe scrutinty.

"Once you start to point fingers and try to throw the blame on people it taints the locker room," wide receiver Taylor Gabriel said. "So as long as we just stay together I feel like we'll be OK."

Part of the process of support includes a players-only meeting to be held sometime within the next day.

Why they would need a players-only meeting when they say everyone is together and not pointing fingers is a question unanswered.

"I feel like this is a player-ran team," Gabriel said. "We believe in each other, we're brothers and like I said, there hasn't been a lot of finger pointing and a lot of arguing and things like that.

"So as long as we come together and know that we can, you know what I mean, just come back and get a win, I feel like a win is what we need right now."

The idea of players-only meetings might come across as panic, but not to the Bears.

"I think that's huge," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "I think that's when guys can really be transparent and genuine, and it's a safe place. And guys can say what they really feel, and other guys can hear it. I don't think anyone's going to take it personal. I think guys are going to really listen and take it to heart."

The danger with such meetings can if there actually are splits developing, like between a defense suffering from being on the field too much while a bumbling offense tries to find its identity.

"If it would have been offense vs. defense, I think that would have happened a long time ago," Amukamara said. "But I think this team is not just offense over here, defense over here, special teams over here. I think we all mesh, even with how the lockers are set up. Everyone is kind of mixed around. I feel like that helps us build relationships."

The main sore spots have been how the offensive line hasn't sprung the running attack, the play of Trubisky and how the defense is struggling after being on the field so long.

Nagy on Monday pointed out it's difficult to stick with offensive play calls when they're getting no gain or a yard or 2.

"I just think we need to stick with it when it's not there early," tackle Bobby Massie said. "I understand where he's coming from, but it's just something you've got to stick with and keep chopping at it."

The Bears ran it only seven times Sunday, a total never so low in the franchise's 100 years. Nagy on Monday indicated it's not all in the play calling, and without saying so he indicted Trubisky to an extent because the offense includes run-pass options with the quarterback deciding whether to give it to the back or keep it and pass.

That's just one more problem for Trubisky, who is already under fire for his errant passing.

"We're behind him 100% of the way," Massie said. "He's our quarterback. So, that's our guy."

Two straight losses aren't enough to rattle veterans who've experienced whatever trouble the league schedule offers. It's those veterans the Bears turn to now for leadership as they try to snuff out any panic.

"I've been in a situation where I was up 28-3 and then lost in the Super Bowl," chuckled Gabriel, a former Atlanta Falcon.

Amukamara recalled the Giants' 2011 Super Bowl run he took part in, when they were 6-6 after a four-game losing streak and then went 9-7 and beat the undefeated Patriots in for the title.

"I remember the defining moment of that season was when Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a field goal against the Cowboys to help us win that game," Amukamara said. "That kind of just sling-shotted us on into a couple more games. We kept that rolling.

"The one thing that was huge was guys bought in. Guys bought into what the offense was doing, guys bought into what defense was doing, and guys bought into what special teams was doing. Players took it upon themselves that, no matter what is called, we're going to execute it perfectly, and that's what we did."

It's something the Bears could use this week as they hit a crossroads in their season.