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Hub Arkush: Trap game looming for Bears against Giants?

November 28, 2018

Sherrick McManis, Kyle Long, Kyle Fuller, Patrick O’Donnell and Charles Leno Jr. are the only players on the Bears current roster not acquired by GM Ryan Pace since he arrived following the 2014 season.

These five “founding fathers” of this 2018 Bears team have no idea what it is like for a Bears team to be good.

McManis is the only Bear to have played on a winning team in Chicago, the 10-6 2012 squad the year he got here, and that season got Lovie Smith fired.

That’s a lot of losing.

Leno talked about that Tuesday and whether or not he can feel all the losing changing

“Yeah, I went through them. I know what it feels like. But yeah, it’s really exciting. Really exciting times for the Chicago Bears and the city of Chicago.”

Asked if he can describe what’s happening, Leno said, “No, I can’t describe it.

“It’s just like you feel it, it’s not anything you can describe.

“You just feel it and you sense it and you know it — it’s the way we interact with each other, it’s the way we compete with each other at practice, it’s all the things we’ve been doing.”

There is a special feeling around these Bears both in the community and in the locker room.

You have to go back to 2006 or 2007 to remember a time when it seemed like there was nary a player in that locker room who wouldn’t rather be right there than anywhere else.

A lot of that is a testament to Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace, and of course to the players themselves.

The only thing Leno said Tuesday that I couldn’t agree with was when he was asked what came first, the winning or the camaraderie?

“I think it’s the camaraderie. It’s the camaraderie and the competing, and that’s when wins come.”

After 42 years on the Bears and the NFL beat, I ask you to trust me, Charles, when I tell you winning is a lot more likely to build camaraderie than vice versa, and it can’t just be whipped up with some special recipe of teammates.

I’ve been around a lot of Bears teams with great camaraderie and lousy records.

The truth is every winning team had to first learn how to win, and then overcome some disappointments and learn from those before they won consistently.

Certainly the Bears are ahead of schedule in part because of the great jobs Pace and Nagy have done assembling and teaching them, in part because they have a ton of talent that’s accumulated over the last three seasons, some good luck they’ve had and, if we’re being completely honest, because they’ve enjoyed a weak schedule.

This Sunday’s tilt with the 3-7 Giants looks like another soft spot before they finish with the Rams, Packers, 49ers and Vikings, but it actually reminds me more of one of those tough lessons the Bears had to learn earlier in the season.

Everybody was raving about the 3-1 Bears coming off their most impressive win in years over the Bucs prior to their bye week as they headed for Miami to face a Dolphin team that had dropped two in a row — surely an easy mark for the new and improved Bears before they faced the Patriots the following week.

It was the classic trap, and the Bears showed up flat and got beat.

Returning now from their mini-bye, the Bears get a Giants team with guys who can take over a game in Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley, and Eli Manning has been playing very well the last three or four weeks.

The Bears face a much stiffer challenge a week from Sunday when the Rams come calling.

Will they fall into the trap again?

Camaraderie is great, and these Bears are good, but how good we really don’t know yet.

All of them – Nagy, Pace and every player on the roster — are still learning how to be a winning team.

It’s going to be very interesting to see Sunday in New York how much they’ve learned about the NFL’s classic traps, and if they are ready to take another step toward joining the NFL’s elite.

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