The Bears’ latest effort got off to a rocky start when the Saints’ JT Gray blocked a punt by Pat O’Donnell and sent the ball rolling toward the goal line. Luckily, O’Donnell went into what he called “surival mode” and was able to race Gray to the ball and in a scrum on the ground, swat the ball out of the back of the end zone.
“I was just thinking ‘bat it to the back,’ take a safety over six points,” said O’Donnell. “One of those plays where you just have to make the best of it.”
In a sense, the best teams react to adversity the way that O’Donnell did. There is no flipping a blocked punt into a positive, but thinking on one’s feet can turn a disaster into a mere setback. Likewise, Nagy and his players spent little time trying to spin the loss into a moral victory and acknowledged the work that lies ahead.
“Each week, even after the frustrating performances on Sunday,” said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, “myself and all the guys, we just come back to work. We’re just working hard. There’s no one slouching off. There’s no one being lazy in practice. There’s no one being lazy or not caring. These guys care, and that’s why these losses hurt so bad because we put so much hard work and effort and time into this during the week.”
While Trubisky threw two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, the offense struggled to move the ball for most of the first three quarters and fumbled twice deep in their own territory.
“It’s definitely fixable,” said running back Tarik Cohen. “The guys we have in this locker room are high character guys, and we’re all ready to find that solution or be that solution.”
The locker room was quiet after the game, and players had no reservations about voicing disappointment in their performance. Trubisky doesn’t see the frustration as a negative.
“If you look at the flip side of it,” said Trubisky, “I think we would have a problem if guys didn’t care after we lost. I think it’s important that we feel the frustration, we feel that we’re angered because we lost because we’ve just got to channel it in a positive way that helps us for next week. You’ve just got to channel this anger and make sure it helps us get better from here.”
Nagy told reporters that he was still searching for answers about an offense that has struggled to gain momentum over the first six games. The team has dealt with injuries and, now, a lopsided loss that were not a part of last season’s story. Nagy puts the onus on himself to motivate and on his players to lead the way.
“I’ll be really curious to see which players on our team step up and start taking more leadership in times like this,” said Nagy. “That’s what I’m going to be observing. I’m going to be checking that out, and I’ll be curious to see where this goes.”