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2 veterans urge teammates to 'shut up and play'
Last year, this particular tactic worked. It was even sort of charming. But then again, a lot of tactics worked last year for the Bears, including playing worse than their opponents and still coming out with the victory.
Now when the Bears' defensive players yell at each other, as they did Sunday, they get reactions like these from Phillip Daniels and Keith Traylor.
"Shut up and play."
That was from Traylor. Daniels had a similar reaction as a defense continues to fray and an offense stagnates and a Bears team comes unhinged with its fifth straight defeat in an apparently lost season. "Everybody is yelling at each other to come on and fight, and that's the problem," explained Daniels. "We have too many people yelling that want to talk and be leaders right now, and I say just shut up and play. That's my whole thing. Let your actions speak louder. Until we figure that out, it's going to be the same old thing."
Last season, Bryan Robinson said screaming at each other was what set them apart from losing seasons before, that expectations were suddenly higher and therefore, no, it was not OK, for example, to screw up and let your guy run up your gap 5 yards.
Of course, it helps when Robinson is actually in uniform saying these things as opposed to getting arrested for driving drunk and joining six other starters on the sideline.
Now when the Bears' defensive players yell at each other, the veterans get annoyed, others shut it out and the fill-ins continue to make the same mistakes they had been making because, generally speaking, that's what most fill-ins do.
"I don't think it's effort," said Traylor to the suggestion that it was lacking in Sunday's 25-7 loss to the Vikings. "Being honest, me sitting back and looking at it, I just think we're outmanned in a lot of areas, and you can't win when you can't compete at that high level.
"We miss a lot of people right now. We all can continue to say we can win with the people we've got and we're not missing the people who are out. Well, I miss the people who are out. I'm not going to lie. You can say the right thing, but the right words aren't going to get the job done."
Traylor can excuse those of us who wonder if a certain passion is lacking after a game in which virtually every area of offense, defense and special teams looked miserable at one point or another. But he and the vast majorityif not allof his teammates won't bite on that one.
"We're not getting the job done in a lot of areas," he agreed. "Big plays here and there are killing us that we didn't have a year ago, and if we did have them, we bounced back and fought.
"I think the guys are fighting; it's just that we're not getting the breaks we got a year ago in a lot of spots because we don't have a lot of people in a lot of spots."
In other words, the Bears are not that much worse than last season. They simply camouflaged their shortcomings with big plays at the right time by players who are either not doing it this year or are not on the field to do it.
This is not a good thing. It is merely a factual thing for all of us who gave them too much credit last season and too little slack this one.
The immediate issue, however, is how they manage to move in any sort of positive direction with a schedule that has them facing Philadelphia and New England in the next two weeks, St. Louis and Miami on the road on Monday nights within the next six, and the Packers in Green Bay sandwiched in between.
As winning begets winning, so obviously does stinking beget stinking.
"I just hope our people don't lose heart," said Daniels. "If you go out there and think you're defeated before the game starts, you're going to be defeated the whole game. That starts to sneak in.
"We have a bunch of young guys playing right now, and it's a strain for everybody."
They'd be throwing things if they weren't already so downright drained from a season that has nine weeks left. There is some logic to pacing yourself.
"It's frustrating right now, just frustrating," said Traylor. "We're all playing like [garbage], and if we continue to play like this, it's going to be an even longer season than it already is."