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Bears determined to fight through adversity


As coach Matt Nagy sees it, the frustration that comes from a three-game losing streak could lead the Bears down one of two paths.

"You have two directions you can go," Nagy said Monday. "You can either be 'Debbie Downer' and be upset and be negative all the time, or you can use it as motivation."

Everyone familiar with Nagy's personality and the culture he's helped to create at Halas Hall—where Debbie Downer and her cousin Negative Nancy aren't welcome—knows that he'll choose the latter option.

To no one's surprise, Nagy will remain positive and use the skid as fuel to light a fire as the Bears gear up for three straight games against NFC North rivals Minnesota, Green Bay and Detroit.

"That's what we'll do as a team because of who we are as players and who we are as people," Nagy said. "We'll rally around one another. And we'll fight. We're fighters. This city is fighters. That's just kind of who we are: our fans, everyone, all of us together. We've got to rally around each other. We've got to pull together. And that's going to be our biggest challenge right now. I'm looking forward to it."

Sunday's loss to the Titans followed previous defeats to the Rams and Saints, dropping the Bears from 5-1 to 5-4 and forcing them to battle to remain in playoff contention. They'll have an extra day to prepare for their next game, a Monday night contest at Soldier Field against the resurgent Vikings (3-5), who've won two straight after a disappointing 1-5 start.

"We've just got to get that one win to get that vibe back," Nagy said. "What we've got to do is be able to use prior experiences that we've had—which is a four-game losing streak last year—to pull through it and give ourselves a chance here week-by-week.

"It's not a 'Debbie Downer' thing for me. For me, it's more of a competitive fire that I have where I just want our guys and our players and our coaches to understand, 'Man, this is where you truly get tested.' I've said it over and over and over and you probably get tired of it, but for us right now, we've got to be able to stay the course. As hard as that is and as frustrating—and it sounds like it's the same thing over and over and over and again—that's what's real."

Nagy has never had trouble keeping his players motivated or together. Improving a stalled offense is a different type of challenge, however. The unit continues to struggle, ranking near the bottom of the NFL in most statistical categories and averaging only 17.3 points over the last six games without scoring more than 23 points in any contest.

Asked Monday whether he would consider relinquishing play-calling duties, Nagy reiterated what he said after Sunday's game about his plans "to look at everything."

"I'm looking at all that right now," Nagy said. "I meant what I said yesterday. When we're where we're at right now as an offense, and struggling the way we are, you have to be able to look at everything, including myself. So we'll see where that goes. We play Monday and we will make the best decision possible here. I think that that's a part of some of the decisions that we look at, for sure."

Nagy added that if that decision was made, it wouldn't be announced publicly, telling reporters: "In all honesty, with all due respect, if anything was to happen, I'm not sure that you guys would know. So that's where that's at. I think you can understand that part."

Regardless of who calls plays, Nagy understands that he is ultimately responsible for the performance of not only the offense but the entire team.

"Anytime you are a play caller or anytime you are a position coach or anytime you are any type of coach with the offense, what you are putting out there on the field is a representation of who we are," Nagy said. "Regardless of responsibilities and all the blame and that stuff, when it comes down to it, it starts with me.

"You guys always hear me talk about being able to teach these guys. I'm a real big believer in making sure you are teaching details Monday through Saturday, over-communicating clarity and teaching that stuff, and then being able to adjust to your players' strengths and weaknesses. We've done that.

"When the problems continue to keep happening over and over again, that's where we have to take a step back as coaches and as players and re-evaluate, big picture, at 5-4, where are we at and what things we have to do moving forward. That's my job as a head coach and my job as a play caller is to rely on your peers, rely on your other coaches, rely on your players and talking through it.

"Any way you look at it, the team—forget just the offense—but the team is my responsibility; making sure I have a good pulse as to where we are at. Now you take it to the next level, offensively, that is my responsibility and we'll see where that goes. When you don't play well like we are right now on offense, that's my job [to improve it]."