Let’s be clear, nobody likes to lose. But if believe that you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been, then you’ll agree that much can be learned from defeat. And if you don’t, well, then maybe the story of the 2018 Chicago Bears will change your mind.
The Bears suffered a heart-wrenching, gut-punch of a loss in Week 1 to the Green Bay Packers. In most circumstances, blowing a double-digit lead in primetime during the season-opener on Sunday Night Football at Lambeau Field while watching Aaron Rodgers pull off his best Willis Reed imitation would have been more than enough to send the Bears into a spiral and sink their season. But that didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen, because first-year Head Coach Matt Nagy wouldn’t allow it.
In an interview with Peter King of NBC Sports, Nagy shared his reflections and recollections of that night and the inspirational message he used to rally the troops and bring an NFC North title back to Chicago: “I will remember that night for the rest of my life,” Nagy told King. “I will remember the look in those players’ eyes. I looked at those 50 guys and told them, ‘This is happening for a reason. You’re not gonna trust me right now, but this is a long season, and we’re only at Week 1 right now, and we’ll be okay.’ I wanted them to feel it for six hours, and then, next morning, to walk in with a smile on their faces.”
It takes some real gumption to take a loss like that and use it as a motivational tool three months later. But that’s who Nagy is and that’s who the Bears have become.
Teams are often (if not always) a reflection of their head coach and Chicago’s football team has followed in the coach’s lead. Cornerback Kyle Fuller went from being the goat in Week 1 for dropping what would have been a game-clinching interception to being tied for the league lead in picks and earning a Pro Bowl selection. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky has evolved since Week 1, and you can underscore his rare feat on Sunday as a possible turning point in his season (and maybe career). Linebacker Roquan Smith has gone from a publicly maligned holdout to a fan favorite. Even often-criticized wide receiver/special teams ace Josh Bellamy has strung together some positive moments this year.
Every time the Bears have been knocked down this season, they have responded in a strong way. And it’s not a coincidence that their coach is at the forefront of this change.