The culture that Matt Nagy established in his first year as head coach helped the Bears respond to adversity throughout the 2018 season.
They rebounded from a season-opening loss to the Packers with three straight wins, from back-to-back defeats to the Dolphins and Patriots with five victories in a row and from a loss to the Giants with four consecutive wins.
A year later, after another disappointing Week 1 defeat to Green Bay last Thursday night, the Bears are determined to show the same resiliency as they prepare to visit the Broncos Sunday in Denver.
“I feel like everyone has to put that game behind them now,” said All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson. “It’s a new week. We’ve got a new opponent ahead and we know it’s going to be a tough game as well. It’s not going to be an easy one for us.”
After having the weekend off, Bears players returned to Halas Hall Monday for a light practice. They’ll work out again Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“One thing I like about this team is we bounce back good,” Jackson said. “We know how to deal with adversity, and that’s what I love most about this team, this locker room. Today at practice, everyone was flying around and being on top of their keys. Everyone’s more locked in, more in-tune. It’s either you want that feeling in your stomach again or you don’t. Right now we determine that and how we come out this week and prepare for Denver.”
Nagy was named NFL coach of the year last season after leading the Bears to the NFC North title with a 12-4 record. In his first year as a head coach at any level, he excelled at getting players to learn from losses and focus solely on the task at hand.
“It has a lot to do with compartmentalizing,” said Pro Bowl left tackle Charles Leno Jr. “Understanding, first of all, this last performance was just one game. Understanding it was not our best performance and we can go up from here. Just keeping it simple, just keep us focused on one main focus.
“Let’s not worry about the outside noise. Let’s not worry about all this other stuff going on. Just keep focused on what we need to do to execute our jobs.”
The Bears struggled mightily on offense in their 10-3 loss to the Packers. But after just one game, Nagy isn’t going to panic.
“Offensively for us, you identify the problem, you fix it and you move on,” Nagy said. “You don’t dwell on it. I don’t deal with that well, so I’m not going to sit here and be negative. I’m going to use it, but right now the people and the players and coaches that are in this building right now, we’ve literally moved on to Denver.”
Win or lose, Nagy doesn’t reflect on any game for more than 24 hours. But that doesn’t mean the time the coach spent evaluating his team’s performance against the Packers wasn’t agonizing.
“For me, the 24 hours is hard,” Nagy said. “That’s a hard deal, because you look at everything that you wish you could have done differently or would have done differently. I always start with myself, and that’s not cliché talk. That’s real talk.
“I start with, ‘Where can I be better to help our team?’ So you beat yourself up in certain areas. But then the person that I really am jumps in and says, ‘All right, enough is enough. It’s time to keep being you and don’t let this thing affect the next week.’ And that’s where I’ve relied on past experiences.
“There's a lot of real-life experiences that it could be a lot worse. So we keep things in perspective. Does that mean we don't care as much? No. But we're 0-1 right now and I know a lot of instances of a lot different teams in previous years that have gone 0-1 and have some pretty good finishes. So we’re past that. We use it as a tool and that’s what I'm going to do. That’s exactly what I did the last couple of days.”