GREEN BAY, Wisc. — Monday was vacation-over and back-to-work day for the Chicago Bears and time to focus on what head coach John Fox told us last week was still his and his team’s goal for this season — winning the NFC North.
There are, of course, a number of ways to look at that goal and some fairly long odds against the Bears achieving it but I ask you this: what would you expect Fox to say?
The coach quickly followed that statement with the explanation that he and his club will attack the goal with a one-brick, or one-game-at-a-time mentality, and if in doing so they string a few wins together, stranger things have happened.
Beyond the fact the Bears currently trail the Vikings by three games and a tiebreaker, they’ll also have to leapfrog the Packers — who they trail by a game and a half — and the Lions (half-game deficit), although they will make up half a game on one of those teams with the outcome of their Monday night meeting at Lambeau Field.
Realizing the Bears are 3-3 over their past six games, with wins over the 6-2 Steelers and 6-3 Panthers, while the Lions have dropped three straight and four of their past five and Green Bay has dropped its past two coinciding with the loss of Aaron Rodgers who is unlikely to return unless they make the playoffs, it may be reasonable to assume the Bears can finish second in the NFC North.
But to catch the Vikings, the Bears will certainly have to beat them on the final day of the season and hope Minnesota stumbles at least two or three times, either at Washington Sunday, against the Rams or on trips to Detroit, Atlanta, Carolina or Green Bay.
The truth is the Vikings' remaining schedule isn’t daunting, and if they only lose twice before the last game of the season, the Bears have to win out to make that game for the division crown.
It’s a razor-thin margin of error that is highly unlikely to come into play.
But all Fox can do is control what he can control, and that starts with making sure his club is ready every Sunday the rest of the way.
Asked if he felt his team was in better shape to get on a second half roll than it has been after devastating injury losses the first half of each of his first two seasons in Chicago, Fox said Monday, “I think we’re probably a little bit more whole than we were for sure last season.
“I think we still had interesting changes in lineups, in particular in the offensive line. Hopefully we can stay a little bit more consistent as far as lineups.
“And we’ve lost some close games, we’ve won some close games. I’d rather see that be more consistent in the second half.”
One concern may be the status of his current defensive leader, Danny Trevathan, who was absent from practice at the end of last week before the team took its four-day break and was MIA again Monday.
Fox refused to comment on Trevathan's status until Wednesday. No one is speculating anything, that’s just what we were told.
There is also the issue of the number of youngsters Fox must rely on and how ready they are for the longest season of their young lives.
Tarik Cohen, asked what he knows about the potential rookie wall, said, “I’ve heard it said. I feel like I’m good. I’m refreshed. The bye week came at a perfect time.
“But even before the bye week I didn’t necessarily feel like I was getting sluggish or running into any type of wall.”
Fox and Bears Nation can only hope, and let’s be real guys — how about if we take this one game at a time and see where the Bears are come December?