Doug Plank can't wait to see his old team in person for the first time this year.
The former Bears safety is scheduled to work Sunday's game against the Patriots as a color analyst on SportsUSA's national radio broadcast from Soldier Field.
Plank, who played his entire NFL career with the Bears from 1975-82, has watched from afar as a resurgent defense and promising young quarterback have led his former team to a 3-2 start and a perch atop the NFC North.
"Being a defensive player, I've been very excited about how well they've rushed the quarterback and played defense and really started bringing back a Chicago Bears tradition of a great defense," Plank said. "They've truly had an opportunity to win every one of their games. They were in position, with a kick, with another play or with a bounce of the ball."
Plank is convinced that the defense's uncharacteristically poor performance last Sunday against the Dolphins was an aberration and had more to do with the intense heat and humidity in Miami than anything else. He recalls wilting in similar conditions when he played an early-season game in Miami.
"I don't think I was ever as exhausted as a Chicago Bear as I was in that game," Plank said. "It rained before the game and then the clouds parted and the sun came out and it truly was a sauna. It was so hot I remember every player coming back to the huddle each play and bending over and putting their hands on their knees and just hearing breathing in the huddle because everybody was so exhausted.
"It's so hard to concentrate. It's so hard to reach deep down and come up with energy and enthusiasm and all those sorts of things that win you games."
Plank is confident that the Bears will rebound Sunday at Soldier Field. He's been impressed with the job that Matt Nagy has done in his first season as a head coach. Plank was the head coach of the Arena Football League's Georgia Force when Nagy quarterbacked the team in 2005-06.
"He's really had to change the mindset in the building," Plank said. "No one was happy with the direction the team was going the last few years. It's not as easy as coming in and just calling a few different plays. Having been a coach myself, you really have to start at the very bottom. Whether it's somebody down in the training room, a coach, an administrator or anybody else who has interaction with the players, the whole atmosphere has to be changed.
"Based on what I've seen so far this year, you can tell that there's change. The team is going in a different direction. His job now is to maintain the momentum and the energy."
That task should be easier with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. In his last two games, the talented 2017 first-round draft pick has produced 770 yards of offense, passing for 670 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception and rushing for 100 yards on 11 carries.
"What I like about him is his attitude, his willingness," Plank said. "He will do whatever it takes to win. And he's got great leadership skills on the field. You can see the way he interacts with the other players. You can tell that he's got the respect of his teammates."