THE MORNING AFTER: Yes, Bears fans, it’s not a dream
MINNEAPOLIS – An interesting comment popped up in response to a tweet of my game story on the Bears’ 12th victory of the 2018 season.
“If my alarm clock rings…and I wake up…and this is a dream…I will be so mad,” said the fan that goes by the hashtag @wheaton_gg.
Indeed it seems like a dream when fans look at the standings, see the Bears’ name or logo, and see 12-4 next to it. Maybe 8-8 was a decent vision of this season, perhaps even 9-7. Ten wins could have been placed in the “pipe dream” category in late August for this group.
But 12 wins – 12 wins! It’s not to be believed, but it’s as real as it gets for a success-starved team and a fan base overdue for success.
“I told the guys in the locker room at the end their I said “Boy, it looks good and feels good looking at these faces to end the regular season,” said head coach Matt Nagy, whose first season has surpassed all expectations since the start of September. “When we played Green Bay after that Week One loss and to see how far we have come as a family, there is nothing like it.”
No, there isn’t.
Let’s not forget – again, let’s not forget – the Bears never won more than six games since the 2013 season and were never in the playoff hunt past early November (and that’s being generous). For one of the few times in their history, their interest trailed behind other teams in Chicago as the losing seasons piled up.
This season changed the narrative overnight. The hiring of Nagy, the addition of a number of offensive weapons in free agency, the bold move to trade two first round picks for Khalil Mack. The overcame a brutal opening night loss to the Packers to win three-straight, then bounced back after losing two-in-a-row in October, then lost just once the rest of the year.
On Sunday night against the Vikings in November, the showed up. They did so even more, especially the defense, when the Rams came to town in December. There would be no letdown in a potential clincher against the Packers, or their final game to knock Minnesota out of the playoffs.
Along the way, they did so with a ferocious defense that ended up up leading the league in points allowed (17.7) and takeaways with 36. Creativity on offense caught the fan’s eye, made them effective at critical times, all while Mitchell Trubisky successfully led the offense while still growing into an NFL quarterback.
This seems like a dream scenario, but it was all real. It happened in front of our eyes.
“It feels great, but we also realize how we got to this point, which was taking care of the little things, trusting each other, coming to work every day. Loving what you do, loving the guy next to you, and taking it all one game at a time,” said Trubisky, who led the Bears to all but one of their victories this year. “Looking back, we have got 12 wins and we are playing at home in the playoffs, and we are excited for this next opportunity.
“If we keep doing what we are doing, hopefully we can do something special and keep rolling.”
As reality continues into January for the Bears – a dreamlike reality that’s way overdue.