The Chicago Bears had last weekend off with a bye, but the team's players and coaches didn't exactly kick back on the couch with a bag of chips. The Bears did rest, but only after evaluating film, reviewing their first eight games and looking ahead to the second half of the season.
On Monday, the team returned to Halas Hall to begin preparations for the final eight games, starting with Sunday's road matchup with the Green Bay Packers. With a 3-5 record, the team is well aware of the hole they must climb out of to remain a factor in the highly-competitive NFC playoff field. That starts with beating Green Bay this weekend, a task the team knows will not be easy.
To top the Packers, the Bears will look to take the lessons they learned over the bye and bring it to the field, hoping to show a different team to the one that lost to Green Bay in Week 4.
"We had a plan going into the start of last week, which was to spend time re-assessing ourselves and the things that we've done over the last eight weeks and try to clean up some of our football," coach Marc Trestman said Monday evening on WBBM-AM 780's 'Chicago Bears Coaches Show.' "The players want to know what they can do better, and we laid it all out for them."
Many of the players left Chicago during their time off to return to their hometowns or take vacations, allowing them to clear their head on the weekend away. Still, Bears football was on the mind. Coaches were in constant contact with the players, giving them updates on things they should focus on in the second half of the season. Injured players also had plenty of work to do, as they met with trainers and doctors to receive rehab, even on the week off.
For some, the bye week came at the right time, giving them a rest from the grind of the season. For others, the Sunday off wasn't ideal, as they wanted to erase the memory of the team's Week 8 loss to New England as quickly as possible.
"It was one of the more interesting bye weeks, just from a mental perspective, from where we are this season and how we went into the bye week," safety Ryan Mundy said on 87.7 FM's 'Jarrett, Harry and Spike,' explaining that the loss to the Patriots left a poor taste in his mouth. "To go into your bye week and think about how that was your last game and you can't do anything about it for two weeks. Normally when you have a game like that, you have an immediate opportunity to exercise your frustrations."
The slow start to the year has frustrated everyone involved, from players and coaches to fans. That doesn't mean a second-half comeback is out of the question, a sentiment Trestman stressed to his team when they returned to work to prepare for Sunday's matchup with the Packers.
"This is a very resilient team," Trestman said. "That was the essence of a lot of the response I got. It's time to refocus and get to work. We have a long way to go and there's a lot of things that can happen this season.
"The guys knows there is certainly opportunity out there, but it's not going to happen just by showing up on Sunday, they have to do it one day at a time."