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Chalk Talk


Chalk Talk: Tracking worst-to-first teams

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on

Historically speaking, when a team goes from worst-to-first like the Bears did last year, what are the odds of them winning the division again the next season?

History says the odds are not very good. Since the NFL realigned into eight four-team divisions in 2002, 25 teams have won a division title one year after finishing in last place. Not counting the 2018 Bears and Texans because they have yet to play the 2019 season, only four of the 23 worst-to-first teams have repeated as division champions: the 2006 Bears, 2012 Broncos, 2012 Texans and 2014 Panthers. Three others have earned wildcard berths: the 2006 Giants, 2010 Saints and 2018 Eagles. Three teams have finished 8-8, while 10 of the 23 have had losing records.

I see that the Bears intend to bring two or three kickers to training camp? How do they intend to create pressure situations to evaluate how the kickers perform under those conditions?
Nick K.
Elmhurst, Illinois

That's a very good question because it's obviously a lot easier to kick on a beautiful summer day in practice than it is in swirling winds at Soldier Field with a game on the line. But the Bears are cognizant of that and will create pressure situations in practice, maybe forcing players to run if a kicker misses or something like that. Here's what coach Matt Nagy had to say about your question: "We'll make sure that somehow, without having 70,000 screaming fans at Soldier Field and kicking it in Soldier Field, we're going to put pressure on them. We're going to make it so they kind of tighten up a little bit as much as you can. You watch kickers at the Combine and you can hear a pin drop, and they're out there kicking with no pads on. I want the real thing. How can you make that happen? You've got to kind of draw it up. When you have 90 players out there with an incentive of, 'You've got to do this or they've got to do that if you make it or miss it,' there's a little bit of a challenge."

Have any other Bears coaches other than Matt Nagy been voted NFL coach of the year in their first year on the job?
Byron S.

Of the five men in Bears history to be named NFL coach of the year, Matt Nagy is the only one to accomplish the feat in his first season. Lovie Smith did it in his second year in 2005, Dick Jauron was honored in his third season in 2001 and Mike Ditka was honored in his fourth year in 1985 and again in his seventh season in 1988. George Halas won it 1963 and 1965 in his 36th and 38th seasons as Bears coach respectively.

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