Bears playing for pride at this point

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Willie Young said, for him, "this is the beginning of next year. This is the first week of 2015 for us."

    Willie Young said, for him, "this is the beginning of next year. This is the first week of 2015 for us." Associated Press

  • Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria (80), defended by Chicago Bears strong safety Ryan Mundy (21) holds up the ball after his 8-yard reception during the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014.

    Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria (80), defended by Chicago Bears strong safety Ryan Mundy (21) holds up the ball after his 8-yard reception during the second half of an NFL football game in Detroit, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. Associated Press

  • Ryan Mundy grabs 1 of his 3 interceptions during the Bears' victory over Tampa Bay.

    Ryan Mundy grabs 1 of his 3 interceptions during the Bears' victory over Tampa Bay. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/10/2014 6:13 PM

Ryan Mundy has been in worse environments than the 5-8 sinkhole where he and Bears teammates currently reside.

"Last year we started out 0-6," Mundy said of his only season with the New York Giants. "So I guess this is a difficult stretch in my career, two losing seasons back to back. But you have to keep fighting through it."

 

The 2013 Giants were able to do that, following the season-opening slump with 4 straight victories and 7 wins in their final 10 games to finish a respectable 7-9.

The Bears, who have lost seven of their last 10 games, will have to rally to get to 7-9. They have lost 10 of their last 16 under Marc Trestman, since starting 3-0 last season.

Now, as he did last season, Mundy will try to emulate the behavior he learned in his first five NFL seasons, which were all spent with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won 53 games during that time. That included a Super Bowl championship in Mundy's first season, when he was a practice squad player.

"I try to rely on my experiences that I had in Pittsburgh, and the guys that I learned from," said Mundy, who played behind safeties Ryan Clark and eight-time Pro Bowler Troy Polamalu. "(Things like) how to be a professional and how to keep the young guys focused and in tune."

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Players say it's not the games themselves that are difficult to get motivated for. It's the day-to-day regimen of practices, meetings, film review and studying to prepare for the game that can become a grind.

"It can be if you let it," Mundy said. "But it's about playing for pride, playing because you love playing, enjoying this opportunity and understanding it's an opportunity that many people would kill for. (But) they don't have the opportunity to play, and they've been working just as hard as you."

Mundy can take some solace in what has been his most productive NFL season. He is second on the team with a career-best 85 tackles, including a team-high 70 solos. He's also tied for the team lead with 3 interceptions after getting just 2 in his first five seasons.

Another free-agent signee who has paid off for the Bears is defensive end Willie Young. He leads the club with a career-best 8½ sacks and is second only to Jared Allen in tackles among defensive linemen with 52. Young's still disappointed in the season, but he won't show it and hopes teammates won't either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Young experienced the whole spectrum of emotions in his first four years in the league with the Detroit Lions, whose teams were, in order, 6-10, 10-6, 4-12 and 7-9.

"It's important that we stay together as a team," Young said. "We can't come in frowning, moping around (with) poor body language. That's not what we're about here."

With the playoffs no longer a possibility, Young says he'll hit the reset button.

"The approach that I take personally is that this is the beginning of next year," he said. "This is the first week of 2015 for us."

And there's always the spoiler role to motivate non-contenders. As Allen has said, "Misery loves company." Monday night the Bears can mess with the playoff hopes of the Saints who, despite the same record as the Bears, are tied for first place in the NFC South.

"If (it's about) us staying together and destroying people's hopes of making it to the playoffs, there it is," Young said. "We're going to do everything in our power. Everything we can control, we'll control and just stick together."

Dragging down the Saints could also help the Bears climb back toward respectability, but they've got a long way to go.

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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