Matt Nagy told reporters Wednesday that the Bears' four-game losing streak earlier this season helped him grow as a head coach.
The skid came after the Bears had won three straight games over the Broncos, Redskins and Vikings, improving their record to 3-1. Consecutive losses to the Raiders, Saints, Chargers and Eagles dropped the defending NFC North champions to 3-5.
"Obviously for all of us—myself, the players, the city, the fans—we all want to be completely great and win the Super Bowl," Nagy said. "When that doesn't happen, you're presented with challenges and adversity and I think for myself, mentally more than anything, it can help you grow and I think that's what it's done to me."
Nagy has helped the Bears (7-6) rebound from their midseason slump. They'll head to Green Bay Sunday with a winning record for the first time since they were 3-2, having won three straight and four of their last five games.
"I feel like a better coach going through [the losing streak] for the players, for my coaches and just the way we communicate," Nagy said. "The honesty, the belief in one another going through this is important, and it'll help me in the long run be able to handle these type of situations when they arise again."
Natural-born leader: The Bears remain hopeful that Akiem Hicks will be able to return to action against the Packers. The veteran defensive tackle has missed the last eight games with an elbow injury he suffered Oct. 6 in a loss to the Raiders.
Hicks, who's practicing for the second straight week, is eligible to be activated off injured reserve for Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. The 6-4, 352-pounder's return no doubt would provide a huge boost for an injury-depleted Bears defense.
"It's big just because he's one of our more vocal guys, in a good way," Nagy said. "He's a leader. He's a natural-born leader. Take the play out and what he does on the field, just rallying the guys this week in practice, being around and then on game day, you guys always see him out there. He's a guy that gets everyone going. So I think it's huge."
Even though there are no full-speed contact drills in practice, the Bears have a pretty good idea where Hicks is in terms of his health and conditioning.
None of practice is live," Nagy said, "so most of it is just communication with him saying, 'this is how I feel,' trainers saying, 'this is where he's at,' and then creating a plan where if it's something we're going to do—which we're hoping—then let's create a plan for it and roll."
Months have passed: The Bears and Packers are both much different teams than the two that kicked off the NFL's 100th season Sept. 5 at Soldier Field.
In that game—won by Green Bay 10-3—the Bears allowed just one touchdown and 213 total yards but mustered only one field goal on 12 possessions.
"We know we want to be better; it wasn't good," Nagy said. "I do think our defense was overshadowed because of the lack of offensive production. But it's totally different at this point. Right or wrong for both teams, we're different. So that's why in division games you play twice a year and you're able to have a shot to redeem yourself."
Frozen tundra: The high temperature in Green Bay Sunday is expected to be a not-so-balmy 14 degrees. The Bears worked out inside the Walter Payton Center Wednesday but plan to practice outdoors Thursday.
"We'll go outside tomorrow," Nagy said. "I think you can go back and forth on that, but for us, we want guys focused. It's a mental day today, so really focusing on what we have going on, and that sort of thing."
Nagy doesn't expect the frigid conditions that are expected Sunday to favor either team.
"I would say probably more so if you're dealing with teams from the West Coast, or more from the warmer weather coming into this," he said. "But you're talking about two teams here in Chicago and Green Bay that are kind of used to it."