There are two options as an NFL team when you’re getting the kind of scorn the Chicago Bears have received this offseason. You can either take that to heart and let it make you worse—or at least not improve—or you can use it to fuel the desire to get better.
We’ll see where the Bears end up, but it’s worth thinking about that for a couple of reasons. The first, as Jeanna Thomas lays out here, is that the Bears have taken a beating for trading up for Mitchell Trubisky, assembling what seems to be a mediocre draft class, and for creating plenty of drama with everyone from nominal starting quarterback Mike Glennon to head coach John Fox. That’s the kind of thing that will put a team back on their heels.
The second is that they’re the first Falcons opponent of the year. Atlanta is the vastly superior team on paper and will have a healthy bloodlust after the last game they played, but this is a road game to open up a season. You can’t afford to take anyone lightly, and especially not in these circumstances. It would be surprising if the Bears didn’t come out swinging.
Of course, the Bears look like one of the worst teams in the entire NFL, so no amount of motivation is likely to change that. The Falcons will just have to be wary that their first game since the Super Bowl isn’t derailed by a team with an awful lot to prove.