The forecast for so-called “Bear weather” Saturday at Soldier Field against Buffalo might seem intriguing to Justin Fields.
Then again, Fields is tied for the NFL lead with Matt Ryan at 15 fumbles, so cold with sub-zero wind chill isn’t exactly conducive to handling the football safely. Can it be worse than the constant downpour they played in the season opener, though?
Fields already played through that slop and deluge and knows the lesson.
“Just take care of the ball,” he said. “Of course, I fumbled on the first or second drive. That’s been the biggest thing, is ball security.”
The cold will be different. The forecast is for 8 degrees with 21 mph wind. This could make it one of the top 10 coldest Bears games ever.
“Yeah, I’m excited,” Fields said. “It’s going to be my first time playing in that weather. It’s going to be fun.”
It’s not the cold Fields is worried about, though.
“It’s just the wind,” Fields said. “The cold isn’t a big deal. Once the wind blows, that’s when it gets cold.
“Like, 20 degrees, no wind, I mean, you’re fine out there. But the wind, of course makes it cold.”
Fields hasn’t played in anything like this. He admitted the rain is the worst he has been through.
Bears practices this week are geared towards the arctic conditions. They’re practicing outside on Wednesday, although the conditions Saturday are supposed to be much worse.
“We want to mimic game conditions the best we can,” coach Matt Eberflus said.
Eberflus has been in the league long enough to be through poor weather in December, even though much of his coaching career was with teams playing in indoor stadiums. In fact, on Dec. 9 in 2013 he was standing on the sidelines at Soldier Field as Dallas Cowboys linebackers coach and the wind chill was -9. Josh McCown and Matt Forte combined forces to beat Dallas 45-28 on a day when the actual gametime temperature was 8 degrees with a 14 mph wind. It was the 10th-coldest Bears game on record.
“Yeah. I was on the losing end at Soldier Field in 2013, I do remember it,” Eberflus said. “Couldn’t feel my feet. It was very cold. But yeah.
“We’ve done very well—the Bears have done very well in cold weather. So we’re excited about it.”
Eberflus’ recollection of that Monday night game was enough to make you want to put on your coat and gloves.
“Just bitter cold, it was bitter cold,” Eberflus said. “You had to really make sure all your skin was covered because you would potentially get frostbite and all that, so you had to make sure you used Vaseline on your face to make sure everything’s covered up right.
“It was cold and the helmets sounded weird when they hit. It was cold. I think it was minus, I wanna say, 13 or something like that.”
Mike Ditka was coach when the Bear weather term became part of team lore, and Lovie Smith used to refer to it constantly when the temperature changed.
Here are the coldest Bears games listed according to actual temperature. Of the 10 coldest, the Bears are 7-0 in games played in Chicago, 6-0 in Soldier Field.
1. Vikings 23, Bears 10 (Met Stadium), Dec. 3, 1972, minus-2 degrees, minus-15 wind chill
2. Bears 23, Packers 21 (Soldier Field), Dec. 18, 1983, 1 degree, minus-17 wind chill
3. Bears 14, Packers 0 (Soldier Field), Dec. 10, 1978, 1 degree, minus-16 wind chill
4. Bears 24, Lions 14 (Wrigley Field), Dec. 15, 1963, 1 degree, minus-15 wind chill
5. Bears 16, Packers 10 (Lambeau Field), Nov. 28, 1976, 2 degrees, minus-16 wind chill
6. Bears 20, Packers 17 (Soldier Field), Dec. 22, 2008, 2 degrees, minus-13 wind chill
7. Bears 21, Packers 10 (Soldier Field), Dec. 11, 1977, 3 degrees, minus-10 wind chill
8. Bears 35, Broncos 24 (Soldier Field), Dec. 20, 1981, 6 degrees, minus-9 wind chill
9. Bengals 16, Bears 10 (Riverfront Stadium), Dec. 10, 1995, 8 degrees, minus-9 wind chill
10. Bears 45, Cowboys 28 (Soldier Field), Dec. 9, 2013, 8 degrees, minus-9 wind chill
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