LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The more the Chicago Bears think they’ve found answers to their struggles, the more their losses and frustration build.
After starting 1-5 for the first time since 2004, the Bears are heading to Green Bay for a Thursday night game with their biggest disappointment still fresh in their memories — Sunday’s blown fourth-quarter lead in a 17-16 loss to Jacksonville.
“I don’t know what it is, but I know that there are spurts where we play well enough to win, and there are spurts where it looks like we don’t know what the hell we’re doing,” guard Kyle Long said.
They’ve done a lot right, but two losses in three winnable games leaves them looking for ways to keep from packing it in early.
“We know that we can compete against any team,” linebacker Willie Young said. “It’s never a case where we haven’t had an opportunity to win.
“It’s just closing it out.”
Quarterback Brian Hoyer has a franchise-record four straight 300-yard passing games, and on Sunday he started to find receiver Alshon Jeffery with more regularity.
Jeffery had 93 yards on seven catches, while Cameron Meredith had his second straight 100-yard receiving day.
The defense stopped Jacksonville on third down eight out of 10 times and forced two turnovers. Yet they saw a 13-0 lead after three quarters disintegrate.
“I think our guys can see how close we are,” coach John Fox said Monday. “Yesterday was no different than the week before against Indy.”
The Bears lost that one in the final four minutes.
“I mean, we gave away a couple plays, but all in all we’re getting better every week and it’s showing out there,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said.
“Turnovers, execution — but it’s just a couple plays here and there that we have to minimize.”
The Bears’ defense is hoping to get a major asset back this week.
Linebacker Pernell McPhee on Friday became eligible to be considered for activation to the 53-man roster from the physically unable to perform list.
McPhee has been recovering from offseason knee surgery.
If McPhee is deemed able to play against the Packers, it will be on only two practices since there was no practice held Monday.
“He’ll do some stuff with the training staff and some of the coaching staff, and we’ll just have to get a feel, and make a decision before Thursday,” Fox said.
The Bears will closely watch several other defensive injuries, including starting cornerbacks Tracy Porter (knee) and Bryce Callahan (hamstring).
In addition, guard Josh Sitton was hoping to face his former team after being signed off waivers by the Bears just before the start of the regular season.
But Sitton, who already had a shoulder injury, suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter against Jacksonville and Fox said he wouldn’t have practiced Monday if a practice had been held.
Quarterback Jay Cutler (thumb sprain) remains sidelined, as well, but with Hoyer having gone 189 throws without an interception, the Bears have avoided pushing their starter into returning too soon.
The Bears haven’t started 1-6 since 2000.
Fox is doing what he can to keep morale high, including citing recent NFL history.
“You know, a team a year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs, started 1-5 and they made the playoffs,” Fox said. “So all of those things are possible but if you lay down your sword, not so much.”