Bears 'building' their way out of Halas House of Horrors​​​​​​​

John Mullin
NBC Sports Chicago

As far as the Bears winning a Super Bowl, hiring Matt Nagy as the head coach was very arguably not the most important thing that happened on January 2018. The "story" has deep roots, reaching back thousands of years in China in ways that may make Nagy the beneficiary of matters beyond his offices, beyond football, in fact. More on all that shortly.

The Bears matching up with – and losing to 23-16 – the Carolina Panthers and coach Ron Rivera occasioned a 15-year flashback involving the former Bears linebacker and defensive coordinator, one with more than a little relevance for the coming days and months.

Training camp '19 will wrap up on Sunday and the Bears make their way back to Halas Hall. That may or may not be a good thing if they are set on winning a Super Bowl.

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Because it was Rivera, a devoted student of the ancient Chinese discipline of feng shui that traces back more than 60 centuries, who warned that the Bears would never win a Super Bowl with Halas Hall as their epicenter. The reason lay in the bad feng shui at Halas Hall, feng shui being the study of the environment, places, people and time, and how those elements interact. It those elements are in conflict and essential energies impeded, buildings and their occupants – read: football teams – have problems.

Sure enough, in the 20 years since the Bears moved from their old Halas Hall (where they did win a Super Bowl) to the new one over near I-94, they have reached one but lost that one along with playoff games the other four times they did get to postseasons. The old Halas Hall, in east Lake Forest, was dedicated in 1979, the year the Bears drafted Dan Hampton. The new Halas Hall was dedicated in 1997, the year they traded for Rick Mirer. In 2018, when a near-total Halas Hall makeover was starting, the Bears drafted Roquan Smith. Just sayin'….

This isn't just some Chico Curse, or Rivera being grumpy after leaving in 2007.

Cliff Notes summary of the Bears-feng shui problem because there's really quite a bit involved: The design and materials of Halas Hall as originally designed have a negative influence on chi, the core energy so central to the Far East thinking that runs through and binds people and all things together. Chi must flow in, easily through and around a structure or even a room, based in part on its furnishings. Through the end of the Dave Wannstedt years, the Dick Jauron era, most of the Lovie Smith tenure, and certainly through the regimes of Marc Trestman and John Fox, very little has flowed easily in Halas Hall spaces "blocked" in feng shui context.

Bad feng shui can cause "serious health problems," according to tradition. From Curtis Enis to Erik Kramer to Curtis Conway to Cade McNown to Jim Miller and on and on and on, have many organizations had more health problems than the Bears?

Construction on the Halas Hall expansion began in 2018, the Bears' healthiest season in years. Again, just sayin'….

Coincidence? James Bond correctly observed that "once is chance, twice is a coincidence, three times is enemy action." Or at least bad feng shui.

But now comes all the construction at Halas Hall, with the "addition" dwarfing the original building and, more important in Rivera feng shui context, facing the "right" direction. The main entrance to Halas Hall still faces west – not good – but feng shui says that the most favorable direction for a sports-industry business is to face northeast. The Bears headquarters have been expanded massively to the north and to the east.

The Bears may stand in Rivera's way to a Super Bowl. But the ex-Bear would at least acknowledge that the Bears are finally at least facing in the right direction.

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The real point of first and fourth preseason games, which don't involve much if any scheming or game-planning, is to see what teams have below the starters on their depth charts. O, in the Bears case, what takeaways are there for someone like their top rookie, running back David Montgomery?

· Montgomery, facing Panthers No. 2's, flashed in the second quarter with the ball in his hands on five of the seven plays on the Bears' first touchdown drive. Montgomery was targeted by the Bears in the third round of the draft, caught passes for 23 and 6 yards, the former a perfectly executed screen pass behind a clear-out block from right guard Ted Larsen. He added runs of 5, 5 and 7 yards, the last for the TD on a play that was stopped but the rookie bounced outside around left end and picked his way through a smattering of Carolina tacklers.

Preseason isn't the least bit conclusive, and the fact that Montgomery flashed against the backups of a middling NFL defense doesn't mean he mean he does that against the starters for a good defense. And the Bears don't see a top-10 rushing defense until Minnesota comes to Soldier Field in week four.

But here's the thing: If Montgomery DIDN'T present in this situation, that could be cause for some concern. But he did; on top of that, he turned in a TD-saving pursuit on a punt return.

· Rashaad Coward saw considerable time at right tackle. The converted defensive lineman was solid in pass protection early, the harder skill to master for any young lineman, through the first half. But he was beaten for two sacks in the third quarter, once on an outside move and the second on an inside-counter move. The Bears need depth at tackle, Coward has been a project worth watching, but whether he did not advance his case for the swing-tackle job against T.J. Clemmings, who worked at left tackle.

· Only a handful of defensive starters saw time Thursday, and the only starting linebacker was Roquan Smith, who promptly delivered a sack on a delayed blitz that buried Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen.

· Inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, starting in place of Danny Trevathan, had some struggles in pass coverage and with pursuit angles on run defense.

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For the first time this writer can remember in almost 30 years covering the Chicago Bears, Chet Coppock was missing from the press box. Chet died in April of injuries suffered in an automobile accident in South Carolina.

This may only have been preseason, and Chet didn't always make all the practice games. But Chet didn't provide color; he WAS color. The last time we were here, for the January playoff game vs. Philadelphia.

Somehow the old place isn't the same without'cha, Chester.

Bears 'building' their way out of Halas House of Horrors originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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