As I watched the Bears lose to Atlanta on Sunday, it occurred to me that there are really only two things that motivate this team: 1) Backs-against-the-wall situations and 2) Scenarios where someone the Chicago media has said something cross and "disrespected" the players.
Frankly, it was stunning the Bears stayed in that game, which they eventually lost 22-20 on a last-second field goal.
Atlanta marched up and down the field all day, only to settle for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. Once the Bears fell behind 19-10 in the fourth quarter (backs against the wall!), they responded and rallied to take a 20-19 lead with only 11 seconds left.
Alas, they blew it with a poorly-executed squib kick and a breakdown in defensive coverage that allowed Jason Elam to boot a game-winning 48-yarder for Atlanta as time expired.
The Bears seem to have trouble putting together 60 minutes of good football. They seem to have trouble sustaining consistency from week to week.
Coming into the season, everyone in the media (including me) had the Bears pegged for somewhere between 4-12 and 6-10. Feeling disrespected, the team came out and blasted the Colts on Opening Night.
After much chest-thumping and woofing, they went back to their old ways the next two weeks, choking away games against Carolina and Tampa Bay.
Once the Bears were 1-2, their backs were against the wall again and the media were writing them off again. Of course, they responded with their best win to date, a 24-20 victory over Philadelphia in Week 4.
After an easy win over winless Detroit in Week 5, the Bears had a chance to seize control of the NFC North if they could have just beaten Atlanta. But no, they threw it away.
Now, the media will write them off again, so they'll probably respond with a win over Minnesota on Sunday.
If the Bears could just motivate themselves every week, they could probably walk away as surprise winners of a weak division this year. Unfortunately, they insist on doing everything the hard way.
Eventually, their backs will be against the wall, and they won't be able to fight back. This is the stuff that 8-8 teams are made of.