BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Bears Pro Bowl offensive lineman Kyle Long is unhappy that seemingly few people outside the organization believe the team is a legitimate playoff contender.
“I’m not thinking about it,” Long said. “I know the team’s not thinking about it. I know that it’s not guiding our decision-making throughout the day, I will say that. But I will also say that we are aware of the fact that there’s kind of a league-wide disrespect on the Chicago Bears. I know that we’re not very appreciative of it, and we’re looking forward to getting after it.”
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The public’s reluctance to embrace the Bears stems from their inability to qualify for the postseason. The Bears, who went 6-10 in 2015, have failed to reach the playoffs in eight of the past nine years. In fact, the Bears have made the postseason only five times since 1992.
However, coach John Fox is known for quick turnarounds.
The Carolina Panthers improved from 7-9 to 11-5 in Fox’s second year in Charlotte, even earning a trip to Super Bowl XXXVIII, where they lost to the New England Patriots.
And after moving to Denver in 2011, Fox’s team went from 8-8 to 13-3 in the span of just one season.
Can Fox work similar magic in Chicago?
“I think it’s like the first year of anything, whether it’s your job, my job, a player’s job,” Fox said. “It’s like when I was a kid and we’d go on a trip and it seemed a whole lot longer on the way there than it did coming home. And the reason is that you’ve seen it before, you’ve been there before. So I think that’s it’s just kind of human development. We added Jake Delhomme in Carolina and made a big jump. Granted, we added Peyton Manning [in Denver]. But to me, we added a bunch of players. It’s not just the quarterback. I think we’ve done similar things here, and we’ll see where it takes us.”