Monday , April 19 2021

First place Bears is being himself and for once this is a good thing

Perhaps this quote actually sums up just how monumental the turnaround the Bears are performing:

"We just wanted to get out and do it," said linebacker Leonard Floyd. "Be the Chicago Bears."

Being the Chicago Bears used to mean losing. Very. This meant having opponents doing the "Electric Slide" after an intercept. It meant playing challenging flags that resulted in the opposing team catching the ball, not the Bears taking a touchdown. That meant a popular former kicker scoring every point and hitting a field goal that won in a one-point loss. That meant Mike Glennon's short age.

Now? Being the Chicago Bears means wide receiver Anthony Miller rowing a boat at one end and safety Eddie Jackson leading an orchestra at the other. It means a defense imposing your will on a game. This means that a whole team will come out of their sideline to celebrate with their much maligned kicker after he hits a field goal to seal a win. That means having a highly praised coach and a list suddenly stocked with potential Pro Bowlers.

Above all: Being the Chicago Bears now means winning, as this team did, 25 to 20, during the Sunday night of the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. The Bears are 7-3 and have a firm grasp on the NFC North, a division in which they were bogged down at the bottom for a long time.

Defeating the Vikings, presumed preseason favorite in the NFC North, does not make the Bears a playoff team yet. But that proves to them, and to the rest of the league, that this is a real group, one that has made significant progress in 10 games and still has room to grow in the six finalists.

"You have to understand the situation," said linebacker Khalil Mack. "Knowing that you are facing an opponent of the division, knowing that we are going to face it twice a year, we have to make the leap.

The Bears' defense physically and mentally beat the Vikings, with Akiem Hicks attacking the inside of the Minnesota offensive line by five tackles for a loss, a bag and a critical break-up in a two-point conversion attempt. Mack bullyed Vikings left tackle Riley Reiff, as evidenced by his record day (a bag, two QB hits, a TFL, a break-up, a fumble forced and a fumble recovery) as well as this:

What Mack, Hicks, and Floyd (two TFLs and lots of pressure) did was mentally shuffle the Minnesota offense while physically defeating them.

"Who do you block? Who do you block? That's the point, "Hicks said. "You block Leonard Floyd? Do you block Eddie Goldman? Do you block Akiem? Do you block Khalil? Who will you block? That is the question we want every offense to have to find out. "

It was not until the middle of the fourth quarter that the Vikings' attack began, but thanks to a few plays by Mitch Trubisky and a goal from Parkey's draw, it was not enough. The Bears finished a game in all three phases – attack, defense, special teams – in the fourth quarter against a good opponent, proving again that this is a team in the right direction.

The Bears' quick turnaround between Sunday night and Thursday afternoon with the Detroit Lions will be a challenge, though one player said he would be eased by Sunday's win.

Perhaps the biggest test of the quick turnaround, then, is for this team to plan new and creative celebrations. Because they may need some of them again on Thanksgiving.

"We have one," Jackson laughed. "We have to add more, though."

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