The honeymoon period for the Bears and their Week 1 win over the 49ers is over. The team was back to Halas Hall on Monday, and they were back to work. That meant going over tape with coaches, and handing out awards and loafs to the players.
“Those guys have to get better,” said Matt Eberflus. “We have to get better. We have a young football team. We have to improve in the fundamentals of the game, and that’s what we’re looking at.
“Obviously we always look at the effort and intensity of which we played, and how we took care of the ball, and being smart. We always do that. But there’s fundamentals and techniques in every position, and we have to get better at those things on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday of this week to improve our football team. Every single week going forward. We’re in that process right now. This will be a big week for us for our improvement.”
No one is excluded from the process. In the preseason, Bears players who have always been known for giving maximum effort on every snap, like Sam Mustipher, were shocked to get loafs on their sheet. That attention to detail hasn’t diminished now that the Bears are out of the preseason, and into the real games, either.
“Loafs is crazy,” said Roquan Smith. “Definitely tough grades on the loaf, but hey it's ball. It's how they view it, how they see things. You just have to respect it and just bust your tail and try to prevent those.”
Smith admitted he was hit with some loafs from Week 1, even though he was flying around the field and led the team in tackles. But Smith took the tough feedback in stride.
“I'm not into the appeal business,” Smith said. “They write it on the paper, it's over with. Hey, I see the loaf. Just makes me want to go a little harder.”
It wasn’t all critiques on Monday, though. Eberflus also handed out awards for various plays made throughout the game, and even a Player of the Game award. One of the most prestigious honors comes at the end of season, however: entry into the 90% club.
“If you’re in 10 plays and you only loaf one time, you’re in the 90% club. That’s a hard club to be in too, for the whole season. We’ll give that award out at the very end if you’re in that club. That means you played hard the entire season.”
It’s such an exclusive club, that Eberflus said only three or four players make it each year. The Bears have lofty aspirations for the program they’re installing, so it makes sense that they enforce it strictly. The team has already seen how their dedication to H.I.T.S. can lead to wins. Now we’ll see if they take the next step in the culture they’re building.
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