LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears would like to come out of their bye week the same way they came out of a mini-bye weekend following a Thursday night game earlier this season.
It was the previous time the Bears won a game, 33-14 against New England on Oct. 24.
It’s definitely not going to be easy as they’re hosting Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
In fact, they finish the season with the Eagles, Buffalo, Detroit and Minnesota.
At least they have better health working on their side to try to snap a six-game losing streak as starting safety Jaquan Brisker and cornerback Kyler Gordon are now out of the NFL concussion protocol. The two rookies will return to the lineup for the first time since a Nov. 20 loss to Atlanta.
“It’s great to have them back,” coach Matt Eberflus said Monday. “We’re excited about it.
“Having Gordon there as the nickel, that’ll be a big piece for us going forward. A lot of teams play (multiple wide receivers) so we’ll be in that (nickel) group a lot. And obviously the impact Brisker has with his hitting and ball-hawking skills. We’re excited to get both of those guys back.”
Brisker, their second pick in the draft, actually leads the Bears in sacks with three off blitzes.
Gordon was their top draft pick earlier in Round 2, and his season hasn’t gone quite as well.
“He’s had games in which he’s tackled really well, and then games when he’s had opportunities where we wish he’d been better,” Eberflus said. “I’d really say (he needs) to be more consistent the last four games.”
They'll need a full group together to stop quarterback Jalen Hurts, whose ability to run or throw on the run is similar to their own quarterback Justin Fields.
“Definitely they have a lot of different designed runs to help him get involved in the run game and so it’s going to be everybody focused on their keys, knowing their rules and playing good football,” rookie linebacker Jack Sanborn said.
The Bears offense is counting on continued pass-blocking improvement so Fields can avoid too much contact as he comes off a shoulder injury.
For the first time this season, the Bears allowed no sacks in their previous game against Green Bay. They led the NFL in sacks allowed through much of the season, but have dropped to fifth most at 42.
“We focused on it a little bit more,” center Sam Mustipher said. “We knew we had to get better across the board, really, and there were still ones that we could’ve had back.
“I know they were giving us zone coverage on the back end, too, so anytime you get four-man rushes, you definitely want to execute (against) those four-man rushes.”
The biggest problem the Bears have had hasn’t been injured defensive backs or even their offensive line’s blocking — it’s finishing games.
Even against good teams they have managed to stay close, but have failed in six straight attempts to win or tie when they had chances to do so on their last possession.
“It’s tough, but I mean, this is the NFL,” Mustipher said. “We’re a young offense, a young group. You have to learn how to win football games.
“There’s a lot of veteran teams around the league and you can kind of see it. They know how to win. They know what it takes. And not that we don’t know what it takes to win. We know what it takes.
"But it’s all 11 guys being on the same page, not shooting ourselves in the foot, getting behind the chains, getting behind the sticks on first down.”
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