While keeping it in perspective, the Bears aren’t surprised by their strong start
LAKE FOREST – What’s good or bad about an off week is that whatever happened before it tends to linger.
For Matt Nagy and his Chicago Bears in 2018, that was a great thing.
Their performance against the Buccaneers in Week 4 had a positive carryover into their Week 5 bye. The victory guaranteed they’d stay in first place no matter what the result and the way they did it has some Bears fans thinking big.
Nagy, as any coach should do, is trying to quell any massive expectations placed on his team, which is 3-1 coming off the bye week. While proud of the group, he certainly wants to emphasize that it’s still quite early in the season, with 12 games still remaining on the schedule.
“It’s great, it sounds good, but it means nothing. For us, we’ve got to understand that,” said Nagy of the Bears being in first place in the NFC North through four weeks. “We have one goal for us, and that’s to not look forward into any game past Miami. So with us being right now in the position we’re in means absolutely nothing.”
A fair point, considering that they still have seven games remaining against division opponents, which will go a long way in determining if the Bears can capture an NFC North title for the first time since 2010. Yet there is a sense around the Bears locker room that the start to the season isn’t something that has caught them off guard, unlike many fans and pundits around the country.
Throughout most of training camp, the team said their expectations were much higher than what was being forecast. While the same size is still small for 2018, the results so far are not a shock.
“That’s what we expected,” said safety Eddie Jackson. “You could see it in camp what we were building was something special. Then we go add Khalil Mack on the defensive side of the ball, and that’s just another boost, man. We set the bar high for ourselves coming into camp with Coach Nagy, just seeing the type of team we had in camp with the competition and the new receivers and the offense we were running, the style.
“We were really expecting this and now it’s paying off.”
Jackson’s been a part of a defense that has surpassed already high expectations so far in 2018. Bolstered by the Mack trade a week before the start of the season, the Bears are second in the league in points allowed (16.4) and yardage per game (294.5). They’re also second in the NFL in sacks with 18 and forced fumbles with eight, while their eight interceptions have them third in the league.
Fans have known this for four weeks, but the offense’s play against the Buccaneers has things looking up for that unit. Their 48 points were the most for the franchise since the 2012 season, with the performance in Mitchell Trubisky (6 touchdowns) restoring faith in some that this offense could live up to their own preseason hype.
“Every time we got out there on Sunday, we expect to win. That’s been the standard since Day 1,” said receiver Allen Robinson. “From the first time we stepped in his facility, the first week of April, the standard was set, and that was to come in here in and win games.”
So far, that’s happening. Keep it going, and there won’t be any need to hold back on the positivity.