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Bears leaning on strong team culture during tough times

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Last season when they strung together winning streaks of three, four and five games, the Bears rode a wave of momentum to a 12-4 record and the NFC North championship. A year later, they’re desperately trying to stop sliding in the opposite direction.

“You could feel the vibe, the energy [last year],” said coach Matt Nagy. “It snowballs in a good way and that’s downhill. You’re rolling and no one can stop you. Now this year it’s been the opposite so far. We just haven’t had that good thing happen to where it’s positive and you get the wins. It’s been snowballing the other way. So we’ve got to stop that snowball and get one good thing to happen and then see where that leads us.”

With the Bears having lost four straight games for the first time under Nagy and sitting in last place with a 3-5 record, the coach is determined to keep his players from pointing fingers.

“Probably the No. 1 thing … is making sure that there’s no friction or fracture or separation or segregation between the team,” Nagy said. “That’s the hardest challenge when you go through this because there are so many different personalities and everybody has different opinions and different suggestions and different whys.

“But when you build a culture that can kind of stop that—because when bad things happen, you don’t do all that—it gives you a better chance. When you have bad guys, bad people, me people, selfish people, it can get out of control. When you have that, that’s hard to stop. But I really believe we don’t have that with our team.”

Entering Week 10, the Bears rank 29th in the NFL on offense and 9th on defense. When there’s such a large disparity between units—especially on a losing team—there could be a divide. When the Bears won the NFL title in 1963, defensive players famously told their offensive counterparts to “hold ‘em” when the offense took the field.

“A four-game losing streak isn’t easy and especially when you have a separation of two sides with the offense struggling and the defense playing really well,” Nagy said. “I’ve been a part of those without four-game losing streaks where that has happened, whether that’s on the sideline or whether that’s in the locker room.

“We haven’t had any of that, and that’s a credit to our players for being so strong. They care about one another. They want it more than anybody. And you keep going back to that silver lining. Somewhere there’s a why. And when you figure that one out, it makes it so much sweeter in the end. It’s hard now because we want it now. But there is somewhere where we have to hopefully get that why part.”

Nagy continues to ensure there are no splinters within the Bears by constantly communicating with his players. He regularly chats with a group of team leaders as well as others on an individual basis during practice, in his office or elsewhere at Halas Hall. It’s something he learned while working for coach Andy Reid with the Eagles and Chiefs.

“There’s not a player on this team that you could ask me about where I feel like I don’t have a relationship,” Nagy said. “Not one.”

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