Unless you’re the New England Patriots of the last 20 years, about the only constant in the NFL is a lack of consistency.
A large percentage of playoff teams turn over from one year to the next. Players have career years followed by complete duds, and vice versa. A coach or general manager that leads a team to a playoff berth could get sacked just a year later if the team takes a turn for the worse.
Akiem Hicks is hopeful the Chicago Bears will be one of the teams that can buck the trends and continue to ride the wave of success in 2019.
According to Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today, Hicks is completely aware of the variations from one year to another and the fact that it’s far more likely a playoff team will fall off a cliff than improve by another win or two. Head coach Matt Nagy made a presentation to the team this offseason showing them just how frequent such regression happens for teams coming off a playoff berth.
“That presentation showed that it’s so much harder to get just one more win, percentage-wise, than it is to fall off,” Hicks said. “These numbers are all based on statistics, so it really hit home.”
In Nagy’s first year as head coach, the Bears surged to a 12-4 record to win the NFC North. Chicago finished the year as the league’s best defense in points allowed with just 17.7 points per game. Mitchell Trubisky made strides in year two, passing for 3,223 yards with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, which led to a trip to the Pro Bowl as a replacement for the Super Bowl bound Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams.
But the Bears had 10 games decided by a touchdown or less last season and went 6-4 in those games. If the ball bounces a different direction this season, the Bears fortunes may prove far different. Plus the Bears will hope they can keep their defense at the top of the league despite the departure of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to the Denver Broncos.
It can be human nature for players to not put in quite as much effort in the year following a successful season. What the presentation did for the Bears was illustrate plainly just how different the output of a season can be for teams to trying to remain successful from year to year.
“What we got from it is that it’s really up to us,” Hicks said. “It’s up to us to decide, whether or not we want to be as dominant as we were last year. We can go as high as – and this is going to sound cliché – we can go as high as we want to go. We can be as dominant as we want to be. It’s just a matter of us taking the time out of everything else and sacrificing to make our team and our defense and our offense one of the best to play this game.