Bears' Jenkins: Last four games are a test of character

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears head coach John Fox waits for the results of a challenge during Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill.

    Chicago Bears head coach John Fox waits for the results of a challenge during Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/8/2015 6:29 AM

In the all-or-nothing world of the NFL, the Chicago Bears, according to coach John Fox, are back in crisis mode after Sunday's home loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

"In my experience in this league, it's either a carnival after you win or it's a crisis after you lose," Fox said a day after the 26-20 overtime defeat left his team at 5-7. "It's just the nature of what we do."

 

Even though the Bears no longer have any realistic shot at the playoffs, Fox doesn't envision any drop-off in focus or effort from his squad.

"One of the things I told the team (is), 'We've been a resilient, hard-playing group,' " Fox said. "We compete for 60 minutes. Sometimes we've just got to be better as far as our performance.

"These guys are professionals. They understand that we still have a full quarter left of the season. It's no less or more important, other than it's the finishing quarter."

In that quarter the Bears face just one opponent that currently has a winning record -- the 8-4 Vikings at Minnesota on Dec. 20.

This week the Bears host a Washington team that will arrive tied for first place in the sad-sack NFC East at 5-7 .

In Week 16 the Bears are in Tampa to face Lovie Smith's 6-6 Buccaneers before they close the season at home against the 4-8 Detroit Lions.

"The worst you can finish is 5-11, the best you can finish is 9-7, and those sound completely different," Fox said. "So that's in front of you."

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

What's also in front of players every morning when they look in the mirror is their own reflection, which also can be a powerful motivator.

Defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins could be more motivated than anyone Sunday when he faces the team that gave up on him last off-season after drafting him in the second round in 2011.

"You always want to play a team that parted ways with you," Jenkins said.

"These last games are going to be a test of character," he added. "Obviously the playoffs are a longshot. (But) we can't go into these last couple of games saying the season is over."

Offensive right tackle Kyle Long says that won't happen, despite the remote playoff possibilities.

"Obviously that's the ultimate goal, to get to the dance," Long said. "But this is about pride for me. You could go down the entire roster, and they'd all echo the same thing, and I know they'd mean it because I've seen these guys. I've seen the preparation they've put in, the hard work, the long hours.

"I love this team. They love the game, and we want to win. I promise you, it will get better. We're in every game. But it's not good enough, and we need to be better."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Win or lose, the common denominator for more than two months has been closely played games with the outcome in doubt until the final play. Eight of the Bears' last nine games -- 4 wins and 4 losses -- have been decided by 6 points or fewer, two in overtime.

"This game's only fun when you win," Fox said. "(It's) the old Wide World of Sports (slogan): the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

"It's what we do for a living. These guys are big boys. They'll look at the tape, we'll evaluate it and mistakes, (you've) got to admit them, and then you fix them and not let them happen again. Hopefully we take that into the fourth quarter of our season."

A lot will be decided then, just like in the fourth quarter of most Bears games.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.