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Bears remain positive during skid

Bears defensive tackle Justin Jones
Bears defensive tackle Justin Jones

Of the Bears' eight losses this season, six have been one-score games, with the last three coming down to the final offensive possession.

The close losses are a signal of growth throughout the past 11 weeks, and while defensive tackle Justin Jones knows the current skid can be difficult for competitors to deal with, he still sees positive morale in the locker room.

"When the season's not going your way but you're trending in the right direction, you still have faith in your team," Jones said. "You just want to put the best foot forward and keep pushing so we can go get those wins towards the end of the stretch. Guys here are really, really eager to win. That's all you can ask for right now. Guys really, really want to win here. That's the most important part. I've heard stories about places where it's trending in the right direction in some parts of the team and other parts of the team don't want to be here.

"Everybody wants to be here, man. Everybody wants to play and win games. Obviously, when we lose these games, it takes a toll on you. But guys just keep pushing, guys just keep fighting. That's the type of guys we got in the building."

The Bears most recently fell to Atlanta 27-24 Sunday while having possession of the ball in the final two minutes of the game. The drive resulted in an interception by quarterback Justin Fields, who injured his left shoulder two plays prior, after a high pass tipped off running back David Montgomery's fingers and into the hands of safety Jaylinn Hawkins.

While the offense has continued to make strides, averaging nearly 29 points per game over the last four weeks, Montgomery said there's been a few missed plays each game that have led to the negative outcomes.

Still, Montgomery has kept his optimism regarding the team's future and becoming "what we are capable of being."

"We've lost a lot of close games that we should have won when it comes down to like five, six, seven plays," Montgomery said. "Ultimately, we all gotta do our part. We can't have mental errors. We're not good enough to do that. I have to be better. I gotta look myself in the mirror and be honest enough with myself and tell myself, 'I need to improve so I can be better for the guys around me.' If we all just do 1/11, the play will work. … It'll be good. So I gotta start with being better myself. I still think we've got a bunch of potential as far as who we can be in the future."

Jones agreed with how close the Bears are to having a much different record, saying: "If we would have tackled him here or got the ball down here, or we would have stopped them here or they didn't convert the first down here, it might have went in our favor. Just one of them."

Defensively, there was progress made in Atlanta after struggling to stop Dallas, Miami and Detroit. On Sunday, the defense allowed just two touchdowns as the Falcons' third came from a kickoff return by running back Cordarrelle Patterson.

The Bears defense also generated a takeaway with safety Jaquan Brisker forcing a fumble, which was recovered by cornerback Jaylon Johnson and led to a Fields' 4-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter. The special teams unit also caused a fumble as safety DeAndre Houston-Carson punched the ball loose on a punt return and linebacker Jack Sanborn recovered it.

Seeing that growth along with the way teammates have responded to the losses gives Jones confidence the unit is trending in the right direction and has a strong future.

"The way guys come to practice and the way we run the practice and how we practice preparing for the games," Jones said, "And obviously in the game the effort to the ball. People still run around, fly around. People still celebrate the plays made and stuff like that. All that stuff matters. Those are the small things that help build that morale that we have. People are not giving up. You can see that. You can play with guys like that, for sure."