The Chicago Bears are a different team this year, and one key factor is improved leadership.
That’s not to say there weren’t any leaders before – defensive tackle Justin Jones has been a tone-setter both vocally and physically since he arrived last offseason. Even he noted the Bears have “a lot of leaders” in the locker room, however, citing the number of guys in this year’s locker room who are dedicated to getting better each and every day.
And, with all those different leaders comes different styles of leadership, which Jones noted is also key.
“You’re not going to really see anybody just get on them right then and there,” Jones said after practice on August 30. “Because as a leader, you kind of have to know how your teammates respond to certain things.”
Justin Jones Gets Honest About Bears’ Leadership
Justin Jones: Bears ‘Want the Best for Each Other
Scenes of sideline blowups are not uncommon around the NFL. But rarely do they extend beyond that and even rarer are the on-field disputes between teammates, though the Bears had a small one at the tailend of the 2021 season between offensive linemen Teven Jenkins and Germain Ifedi. Jenkins took exception to a late hit on quarterback Justin Fields, drawing a penalty much to Ifedi’s chagrin.
Germaine Ifedi (74) all over Tevin Jenkins (76) after the fight pic.twitter.com/vvBEfE2QWy
— Barroom Network (@BarroomNetwork) December 21, 2021
“If you’re going to yell at them in front of everybody, a lot of guys don’t respond well to that,” Jones continued. “So you kind of have to wait to get it to the sideline.”
Jones explained that those interactions can be something as simple as getting eyes in the right place or not letting up on a play. He also noted he appreciates that there is no hierarchy in the locker room with that.
“That can come for anybody. But that just tells you how close our team is,” Jones said. “As a team, as brothers, you know you need that. You need somebody who’s gonna come out there and tell you when you’re not being your best. Because at the end of the day, we want the best for each other.”
Justin Jones, Defensive Line Set Tone All Offseason
The new leaders include EDGE defender DeMarcus Walker, who arrives after recording a career-high sacks with the Tennessee Titans last season.
He has been one of the most vocal players on the field and with the media when available.
“We got the No. 1 pick last year so what is there to be happy about? What is there to celebrate about,” Walker said after practice on June 14. “Anything that we’re doing, we’re trying to learn on a new foundation to get to the promised land.”
Jones appreciates that kind of leadership, perhaps in part because he’s not the only one doing it this season.
“He’s a good guy in the room,” Jones said about his new teammate on the “Bears WeeklyPodcast” on June 13. “Good president. Another leader in the room. Guys respond to him pretty well, and he brings this intensity I feel like that was much needed, that we were missing. So I’m excited about him.”
Jones also relayed new EDGE rusher Yannick Ngakoue likes to say, “Let’s get better today” as a motto.
Coming off of a 3-14 season, they hope the leadership is now in place to improve upon that.