What happens after a stunning disaster such as the one the Chicago Bears authored and suffered in their 26-6 loss Sunday in Cleveland?
The sun rises the next morning to an aura of shock, grief and confusion as to how something so awful happened.
Then the postmortem – at least no one died or was seriously injured – to try and get to what head coach Matt Nagy habitually calls ‘the whys.’
Lastly comes the reawakening. Life is going on, how quickly can we get back on the horse?
Such was the case Thursday at Halas Hall as coaches and players began ripping off the Band-Aids and starting to heal wounds.
At the beginning of this season almost every analyst or expert I talked to, including yours truly, had the Bears at 1-2 through three games. The overwhelming majority of fans agreed.
The only thing new Sunday was the near historic ugliness of the loss to the Browns.
As a steward of the guiltiest of the guilty I asked offensive coordinator Bill Lazor how much of the repair job would focus on the damage his troops suffered mentally?
“When you stand up in front of the unit on Tuesday after a bad performance, that is a big part of what you are thinking about,” Lazor said. “They are with you on the [physical] specifics ... But the, ‘Where are we now? How do we move forward? How do we address this? How do you make sure this doesn’t happen again and be who we want to be?’
“You’d like to say, ‘Let’s get this over with, let’s flush it.’ Everyone would like to get it over with and learn from it and move forward. Those of us who have children know that is easier said than done. We’re adults, and as coaches, we still have to do the same thing to ourselves.”
On Wednesday, Nagy had described a bunker mentality.
“If I let the other distractions take away from anything then that’s taking away from them, and I won’t do that,” Nagy said. “And then you’re out there with your players, your with your coaches, and you see how they are and you have these healthy conversations and you realize, like, ‘Man let’s go, pick it back up and let’s go.’
“Understand everything, but you know it’s time to fight. And when you fight, you do it together and you understand it and then you go do everything you can to be the best for the Bears. That’s it.”
Among the players, tight end Cole Kmet was focused more on what can happen on the field and recalled a better time.
“In our room, we kind of look back on what we were doing toward the end of last year, in trying to get that mentality and that intensity back in the run game at least,” Kmet said. “Just coming off the rock and hitting dudes, and that’s kind of what we were doing toward the end of last year. Hopefully we can kind of get back to that.”
There is an age-old mantra around the game: when things aren’t going well, turn your guys loose and let them go maul somebody.
Obviously, fixing the offense is complicated by the uncertainty about who will be under center against Detroit. From what I was able to see of practice Thursday, the best guess remains Justin Fields.
The bigger question for me however is where have Kmet and his tight end buddies gone?
Fields badly needs a security blanket right now and yet the likely suspects, his tight ends, have been targeted only 15 times (Kmet 12, Jimmy Graham 3) on 84 combined attempts by Fields and Andy Dalton.
They weren’t staying in to block more once the dam broke in Cleveland, so we are left to wonder: where have they gone and are they the main missing ingredient from the passing game?
Whether it’s fixing psyches, the ground game or the areal attack this much is certain:
If Nagy doesn’t bring his troops to Soldier Field at a fever pitch Sunday with a better plan and ready to commit mayhem vs. the Lions, the rest may not matter.