Chicago Bears gamers cleaned out their lockers Monday morning at Halas Hall morning and headed into their offseason, turning the web page on a 3-14 last-place season that earned the group the No. 1 general decide for this spring’s draft.
A day after a 29-13 residence loss to the Minnesota Vikings completed a 10-game skid, Bears gamers spoke about what was achieved within the first season beneath coach Matt Eberflus and what can be wanted to show issues round. Here are 5 issues we heard in Lake Forest.
1. Bears gamers are hopeful a sturdy tradition was established.
Defensive deal with Justin Jones mentioned this didn’t really feel like a 14-loss season.
“Kudos to the guys in here,” he mentioned, “because they make this (stuff) fun.”
On Sunday afternoon, Eberflus said his perception that gamers established requirements for work habits and a collective buy-in that can carry ahead.
“(It’s) the feeling you have with the brother next to you, that you can trust in him that he is going to do his very best to be the best version of himself,” Eberflus mentioned.
That isn’t to say all the things was rosy or excellent within the first season of a brand new regime. Jones mentioned Monday that gamers took the chance to speak with coaches their “grievances and issues” from throughout the season.
“I thought that was huge for the coaching staff to hear some constructive criticism from the players and vice versa,” he mentioned.
“Guys feel different ways,” Jones mentioned. “A lot of guys are on one-year deals here, and the season didn’t go the way they planned it to. Some guys are frustrated. Some guys just want clarification on certain things. You have to give them the answer they are looking for and you have to tell them exactly what this was and the things they could have been better at. And go about the business like that. It’s healthy for both sides.”
Jones additionally emphasised the strains of communication between gamers and coaches can enhance for 2023 and past and requested extra alternative for gamers to brazenly communicate their minds.
“When you’re going through a tough season, players tend to look at themselves and are like, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ ” he mentioned. “With that, (as coaches) you kind of have to reiterate like ‘Hey, my door is always open if you want to talk.’ Reiterate, ‘Hey, things aren’t going the way we planned. I know it looks kind of bad right now. But if you really need to understand where you stand, come and talk.’ Really make it just that and don’t make it seem like it’s a punishment if you come to the office.’ But instead (have it be), ‘Hey, it’s tough right now, come talk to me and we can hash it out right there.’ ”
Defensive finish Trevis Gipson mentioned he appreciated the chance to supply suggestions to basic supervisor Ryan Poles and Eberflus on Monday.
“Our organization and people that are higher than the players, they’re open to change,” Gipson mentioned. “They ask us for our opinions. ‘What could we do better? What did we not do as good?’ That’s something that’s important because it’s a level of transparency. You’re not hiding behind closed doors and you’re not making things, ‘It’s either my way or the highway.’ It’s not that type of relationship between us and upstairs, so I think that’s a strong bond.”
2. Teven Jenkins exceeded his personal expectations in his place change however is aware of enchancment — and well being — is required.
In the 5 months since commerce rumors surrounded Jenkins in coaching camp, the 2021 second-round decide efficiently moved from deal with to proper guard and performed in 13 video games on the place. He mentioned he was pleased with how he performed however believes he must be higher general.
“I’m a guy who flashes a lot,” Jenkins mentioned. “I had some great plays. One thing I need to improve on is my consistency on the field. Like I’ll have great plays, driving somebody like 10 yards or so, and the next play I might only do it for a yard or not be as great as the play before.”
The Bears additionally want Jenkins to get wholesome. After lacking most of final 12 months with a again harm, he missed time with a hip problem and a neck pressure this season.
He mentioned docs advised him the neck harm is a short-term problem. He will use a neck machine to strengthen his muscular tissues and he additionally plans on doing Pilates to strengthen his core to keep away from future again points.
“I’m disappointed in myself a little bit because I wanted to finish the season with my brothers this year, especially missing how many games I did last year with my back surgery,” Jenkins mentioned of sitting out the finale with the neck harm. “Coming back this year and getting injured again, it’s not something I want to deal with. But I feel like in a couple weeks I’ll get over it because I’ve got to get back to work and start work for next year.”
Jenkins mentioned he’s to see what the Bears do within the offseason, together with watching what Poles does to bolster the offensive line. Jenkins mentioned he received’t take his spot on the road with no consideration.
“We have a lot of cap space and a lot of opportunities in this draft, so I really don’t know how it’s going to go,” Jenkins mentioned. “I don’t ever want to be the person to say, ‘Yeah, I have a spot.’ I don’t want to do that because I always want to stay hungry and feel like I still have to chase my job, even if I have it secure.”
3. Running again David Montgomery has a giant couple of months forward.
Montgomery’s girlfriend is about to have their first baby in mid-January, in order that massive second is taking priority over reflecting on the season and what’s forward for the soon-to-be free agent.
“I’m taking a load off,” Montgomery mentioned. “It’s been a long year, a long season, and I got hit a lot. So I’m going to rest, let my body rest and really the main thing on my mind is my child and hoping that my girlfriend has a healthy birth. That’s what’s on my mind.”
Montgomery took a postgame photograph together with his household within the middle of Soldier Field after Sunday’s sport and mentioned Monday that was simply him “soaking it all in, reminiscing on everything, just being grateful for everything.”
Montgomery is among the many Bears’ greater free-agent selections this offseason after he totaled 3,609 speeding yards and 26 touchdowns and 155 catches for 1,240 yards and 4 touchdowns in 4 seasons.
Montgomery mentioned he would like to play in Chicago subsequent 12 months.
“The city and the fans are crazy in a great way,” he mentioned. “As you know we haven’t been the hottest in the last four years, and the fans and the support around this team and the way that they still show love it’s crazy. It’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. … It’s an incredible organization. It’s amazing here.”
4. Kicker Cairo Santos feels positively general about his 2022 season.
Most notably, Santos expressed satisfaction in his 21-for-23 effort on field-goal makes an attempt, rating him seventh within the league in field-goal share (. 913) amongst kickers with no less than 15 tries.
“The main things is that I am proud to finish above 90% in Chicago for another season,” Santos mentioned. “It’s a grind to keep that up. And with (Patrick) Scales and (Trent) Gill, we did that.”
After a mini-slump in November and early December during which he had 5 misses in a five-game span, Santos completed the 12 months making his closing eight kicks — three field-goal and 5 extra-point makes an attempt — and acknowledged he felt like a golfer who completed his spherical with a few pars and a birdie over the ultimate three holes.
Santos additionally mentioned the alteration he made to his point-after-touchdown setup, transferring from the precise hash to the center of the sphere, is one thing he’ll seemingly preserve in 2023. That change got here midgame in Week 15 after Santos missed his fifth PAT strive of the season.
“With some of the frustrations I experienced, I learned many lessons too,” he mentioned. “I dreaded forever kicking from the middle. I always liked kicking my game-winners from the right hash, extra points from the right hash. When I decided to go from the middle on extra points, it improved my ball striking, actually, because I had to be more dialed in. It was just something that I, frankly, had just feared before. Kicking from the middle now is no big deal. It’s working. So I won’t change that yet.”
5. Trevis Gipson was disillusioned in his manufacturing however has his offseason mapped out to enhance.
Gipson went from seven sacks and 5 pressured fumbles in his second season in 2021 whereas taking part in alongside Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn to 3 sacks and 11 quarterback hits in 2022 as Mack and Quinn had been traded.
He had two sacks in Week 2 and didn’t have one other till Week 17 in his first 12 months beneath Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams.
“I did feel like it was a season of transition, this being a new scheme, new coaching staff. It was pretty new for me for everything,” Gipson mentioned. “Coming out of this season, I can only be encouraged, honestly. There are a lot of things I could have done or should have done, and now that I know that within this new scheme, it sort of shaped out my offseason schedule. It was a lot of missed opportunities I had out there.”
Gipson mentioned he has “a mountain of things” to work on, beginning together with his change of route and dropping physique fats to change into leaner.
“Quicker, faster, stronger, just things that are helping me get to the quarterback faster and become a better player overall,” he mentioned.
Gipson was a part of a Bears protection that had simply 20 sacks, one thing Poles is more likely to deal with this offseason. But whereas the protection didn’t accomplish what it wished, Gipson mentioned watching younger gamers equivalent to Jaquan Brisker, Kyler Gordon and Jack Sanborn constructed hope.
“Seeing those guys step up, I’m nothing but encouraged for our future as the Bears,” he mentioned.