Bears could just as well be 0-2
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter September 16, 2013 9:30PM
Updated: October 18, 2013 6:25AM
Linebacker Lance Briggs pressed his meaty left thumb toward his forefinger, leaving room for maybe three credit cards stacked on top of each other.
How thin is the line, he was asked, between the Bears being undefeated and winless?
“It’s minute, man,” Briggs said Monday at Halas Hall. “It’s very, very small.”
The space between Briggs’ fingers allotted for the way the Bears have won their first two games.
Statistics say they shouldn’t have won either — much less both — on fourth-quarter comeback drives.
When the Bears took over Sunday with 3:15 left, down six against the Vikings, they had a 27 percent chance to win, according to Advanced NFL Stats’ win probability index.
And when they began a Week 1 drive with 12:39 left, down four to the Bengals, they had a 32 percent chance of winning.
“In those critical situations, a guy could just as easily gotten his hand up, come through that line, gotten a sack, disrupted the throw, or the throw be a little to the left or right, and we lose [Sunday’s] game,” Briggs said. “Even on that important drive against Cincinnati, as well.”
“We’re starting to create the identity of who we are. . . .
“The identity that’s being created is clutch.
“When the chips are down, some Bear is going to make a play.”
One fan’s definition of luck is another’s assurance of fate.
But here’s why the hypothetical matters: An 0-2 team would be in a different place today, with the dual doubts of learning coach Marc Trestman’s new system and, for many of the veterans, fretting a looming contract negotiation.
“When you’re 0-2, you’re circling the wagons,” Briggs said. “You’ve dug yourself into a hole, and you have to salvage that season, so you have to get back to even.
“Being 2-0, in our history, winning more games in the beginning, we know we give ourselves a chance of getting into those playoffs.”
Maybe not the same odds as, say, the Broncos, another of the eight undefeated teams, who have outscored the previous two Super Bowl champions 90-50.
The Bears have scored four more points then their opponents, the smallest margin of any undefeated team.
And they’ve won both games at home; the 2-0 Dolphins have won twice on the road.
“We’re two or three plays away from sitting here on the opposite side of both games, no doubt about it,” Trestman said. “You’ve got to play them all for 60 minutes, and if you just keep playing, you hope good things can happen.
“I think that’s what we get out of it.”
Every season is fluid, Trestman said.
“You see it all the time,’’ he said. ‘‘Early on teams may be anointed as the team, and then you work on things during the season and things change, and you just don’t know.”
Not that the Bears are apologizing for their record.
“It was a good win for the team,” defensive end Julius Peppers said Sunday. “We’re going to have to win in a variety of ways.
“And coming from behind is what we did last week, and it’s going to build character for this team.”
Linebacker James Anderson said every game “seems to come down to the wire,” and that “every, week, you’ve gotta make a play.”
The Bears have. If not, they might be 0-2.
“You don’t want to say that,” defensive end Corey Wootton said. “But if the offense didn’t step up . . .”
Linebacker D.J. Williams wouldn’t let his mind travel there — even if the victories were by the smallest of margins.
“I’m not worried about 0-2,” he said. “We’re 2-0.”