Bears with playoff success see good signs from 2018 team

January 4, 2019

The Bears have thirteen players on their 53-man roster with playoff experience, and several have enjoyed extensive postseason success, but they’ve also been with non-playoff teams, so they’re well qualified to explain what successful playoff teams have that others don’t.

Spoiler alert: They like what they’ve seen from this Bears team.

TE Trey Burton played on the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII champs last season, and CB Prince Amukamara was on the Giants’ Super Bowl winners as a rookie in 2011. LB Danny Trevathan was the leading tackler in 2013 on the Broncos team that lost to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl and on the 2015 team that won it all, and DL Akiem Hicks won playoff games with the Saints in 2013 and the Patriots in 2015.

“A lot of things have to go right during the season,” said Burton, whose TD toss off the Philly Special was the most memorable play of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory and maybe in franchise history. “You get a couple bounces, a couple calls; you overcome adversity consistently… those are some of the characteristics.”

A TD pass on a trick play from a tight end who was a quarterback in high school doesn’t hurt, either. Burton says he sees similarities between the 2017 Eagles and the 2018 Bears. Some obvious, some more nuanced and some statistical.

“From a broad sense, really good defense,” Burton said. “The turnover margin was huge for us last year and has been huge for us this year. Those are some of the things off the top of my head.”

The Eagles’ defense was No. 4 last year allowing 306.5 yards per game and the Bears were third this year at 299.7. The Bears finished third this year with a plus-12 turnover edge; the Eagles were plus-11 last year.

Hicks says the ability to get back up after getting knocked down is important.

“Throughout the course of the year we’ve met with so many different challenges, right?” Hicks said, mentioning the Week One loss to the Packers and overtime losses on the road against the Dolphins and Giants. “And it’s being able to overcome those moments of adversity. I think that makes the difference between being in the playoff spotlight and packing your black bag (at the end of the regular season).”

Amukamara’s Super Bowl experience was seven years ago but he recalls having a collective mindset that’s similar to what the Bears have this year.

“There’s a motto that we really bought into — all in,” he said. That means being all in with each other, all in with what the coach says, all in on what the players say, and we really just bought in as a group. We were committed to one another, and we were committed to one goal and that was a championship.”

Amukamara agrees with Hicks’ notion of overcoming adversity and coming back from it stronger than ever.

“There have been a lot of games that really helped with that,” Amukamara said. “I think just the first game of the season, Green Bay, just going through that adversity and going through the emotions of that, and then beating the Seahawks the second week. I think our confidence grew from that, and then going through a rollercoaster down in Arizona, being down 14 and then clawing back (to win 16-14). I think all those games really helped with the personality of our team.”

The way the 2018 Bears have fought through the trials and tribulations and repeatedly found different ways to win, all the while growing closer as a team reminds Trevathan of his four years in Denver, when the Broncos went to the playoffs every year.

“It’s that chemistry,” he said. “(Playoff teams) believe that they’re never out of the game, and that’s what we have. We’ve been fighting the whole year and we didn’t give up fighting. I saw what kind of team we were just through those games.

“That’s what you want heading into the postseason, a team that’s fighting and won’t give up and that’s what we have right now.”

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