Would firing coaches hurt Chicago Bears' rebuild?
The fact that the 5-10 Bears are a better team than last year's 3-13 outfit isn't a great accomplishment, and it's probably not enough to prevent a third coaching change in five years.
The improvement might be inconsequential to a fan base weary after four straight double-digit-loss seasons. But it's fair to ask if the rebuilding process, even in its initial stages, would be set back by a regime change.
"It's there," linebacker Christian Jones said of the team's progress. "Rome's not built overnight. A lot of the guys in this locker room rally around (the coaching staff) and I think it would continue."
As expected, players expressed belief in the current staff after Sunday's 20-3 victory over the Cleveland Browns, and they believe their progress would continue if the same group is kept intact.
"They're energetic," Jones said of the staff, "and I feel like they have their foundation of people they want, and they've proven they can win with those guys."
Jones is one of those guys. Filling in at inside and outside linebacker when injuries mounted, Jones has started 11 games and is tied with Danny Trevathan for the team lead in tackles with 83. He led the Bears with 2 special-teams tackles Sunday and has been a standout in the past in that area.
Jones is not satisfied with the Bears' 5-10 record and realizes the win total doesn't represent a huge improvement. But he says there are other ways of measuring progress.
The Bears own victories over two teams that have already clinched a playoff spot, the 12-3 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 11-4 Carolina Panthers. They have also defeated the 9-6 Baltimore Ravens, who are likely to be in the postseason party.
The Bears swept the AFC North this season, adding victories over the Cincinnati Bengals (33-7) and Browns to their conquests of the Steelers (23-17) and Ravens (27-24).
"It's just the fight (we have), the playoff teams that we've beaten," Jones said. "We beat that whole (AFC North) division and then, even the games that we lost, we were right there. Even though I thought this was a game we should win (against the Browns), winning's winning, and I like the group we have here."
Wide receiver Josh Bellamy, a longtime special-teams standout who had 3 catches for 49 yards against the Browns, sees improvement in the team-first mentality that has developed this season.
"(It's) guys starting to play for each other and starting to build confidence in knowing that we can do it," said Bellamy, who is second on the team with 346 receiving yards and third with 23 catches. "We're just taking baby steps, and hopefully next year everything comes together."
While not dismissive of the coaching staff, Bellamy believes that players must take more responsibility for the team's success, regardless of who's in charge.
"It's not about the coaches, it's about the players," Bellamy said. "The players play and the coaches coach. The coach is not going to go on the field and play -- the players are going to go on the field and play. So we have to build each other up and make us believe (in each other).
"Let's just go win."
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