Chicago Bears believe they have unfinished business
No one who has suffered along with the Bears as they scuffled around in the wilderness of the NFL the past few years, far from the postseason party, would begrudge Matt Nagy’s team a little indulgence after it clinched the franchise’s first division title since 2010.
But even in the immediate aftermath of the latest Club Dub celebration, the message comes through loud and clear: “There’s unfinished business.”
“Enjoy it,” Nagy told his team when the dancing stopped and it was time to break it down after the victory over the Packers. “We are not done. If you’re done, just leave.”
QB Mitch Trubisky added: “We’re just getting started.”
It doesn’t appear as if any members of Nagy’s 10-4 team have to be reminded.
“I knew what coach Nagy was capable of,” said WR Allen Robinson, who signed with the Bears in March because of those expectations. “I was aware of everything. We brought in some other pieces, and we came here and did what we wanted, which started with winning the division. That’s just the first of many milestones.”
Strategizing for a playoff run was unthinkable back in training camp when the Bears were coming off four straight seasons of double-digit losses and last-place finishes. Now it’s a hot topic, along with not settling for a mere postseason berth.
“It’s OK to celebrate and enjoy (Sunday) night and (Monday),” Nagy said. “But we have bigger things that we’re trying to achieve. That’s going to be the biggest challenge for us is understanding, ‘OK, we accomplished a good goal, but that’s not enough.’ So how do you make sure everyone understands that?”
The players get it. Almost as soon as the locker room party died down, it was back to business.
“We’ve accomplished a lot,” Trubisky said. “I’m most proud of the type of guys we have in our locker room and the culture we’ve created. Nobody believed in us on the outside in the preseason or even throughout the season.
“But we knew what type of team we had. Then you look back and appreciate where you are. But we’ve still got a long ways to go, so we just want to keep building and keep getting better. We just stay hungry, stay humble and stay together and keep going.”
Nagy refused to utter the word “playoffs” until the Bears were in, now he’s contemplating scenarios and seedings. The Bears are just one game behind the Rams for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, but actually it’s less than a game because they hold the tie-breaker against them. As NFC North champs, the lowest the Bears can be is the No. 4 seed, which comes with a home game in the wild-card round.
“There’s the ability for us to be, basically, four different seeds,” Nagy said. “Some are slimmer than others. You go play, and you play to win, and nothing changes. You literally control what you can control.”
Sounds easy. But what if earning a bye and getting a divisional round home game means going all-out in Week 17 in Minnesota rather than settling for the fourth seed and resting some banged-up starters?
“You wanna ask me if I want the first-round bye, or the No. 1 seed?” Nagy said. “Absolutely, give it to me right now.”
Those scenarios won’t come into focus until after Sunday’s game in Santa Clara, Calif., against the 49ers, if at all. For now, the Bears are the No. 3 seed.
“Unless you’re locked in and you can’t move (which is a good possibility), then you have to decide what you want to do,” Nagy said. “But right now, we have to win.”