Sun, 24 Jan 2021

Quick Hits: New offensive line showed growth

Chicago Bears
04 Dec 2020, 00:37 GMT+10

Larry Mayer

Coach Matt Nagy was pleased with how the Bears' reconfigured offensive line performed in last Sunday's loss to the Packers.

Cody Whitehair moved from center to left guard, Sam Mustipher started at center, Alex Bars opened at right guard and Germain Ifedi slid over from right guard to right tackle. The only starter who remained in his regular position was left tackle Charles Leno Jr.

"I felt really good about those guys, I really did," Nagy said Wednesday. "For their first time playing together, that unit, I thought that there was some penetration on the other side of the ball. You could see that there were some nice holes that were created with some of the run game. And really, in the pass game, when you're dropping back that much towards the third and fourth quarter, even when it's one-dimensional, there wasn't a lot of leakage."

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The Bears rushed for 122 yards, their highest total since Week 3, and picked up a season-high 26 first downs. While 11 of those came in the fourth quarter after the Packers had built a comfortable 41-10 lead, the Bears did compile nine first downs on a 14-play, 87-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter.

In addition, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was sacked three times while throwing 46 passes in the game.

"You saw a few [plays] where we got pushed back into the pocket," Nagy said. "But across the NFL, you're going to see that every day in every game. You can't think it's just going to be a brick wall every play. Big picture, I was really, really happy with how they played. In all the negativity that happened in that game and all the frustration that we had, when you try to pull some of the good, I thought we grew there with that lineup."

Foles limited in practice

Nagy confirmed Wednesday that Trubisky would make his second straight start Sunday when the Bears host the Lions. But it's possible that Nick Foles could serve as the backup after sitting out the Packers game with a hip injury.

Foles returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday for the first time since he was injured late in a Nov. 16 Monday night loss to the Vikings.

"I was trying to get a feel for him when he's in the pocket," Nagy said. "Is he hesitant with stepping into his throws? What kind of velocity is coming off the ball? And I thought he did a pretty good job.

"I was asking him as we went where he's at. I think he would be the first to tell you that, No. 1, it was good to get out there and do some of that. But at the same time, is he 100 percent where he needs to be? I would probably guess to venture that he would say no, he's not."

Tyler Bray has served as the Bears' No. 2 quarterback in their last three games, filling in for an injured Trubisky behind Foles against the Titans and Vikings before backing up Trubisky versus the Packers. Bray replaced Foles in the final minute of the Minnesota game, completing 1 of 5 passes for 18 yards.

Zero concern

Nagy revealed that there was no backlash from Bears defensive players after he criticized the defense's poor performance against the Packers in a video call with the media Monday morning.

"No, not at all," Nagy said. "The relationships that I have with these guys on defense, I'm extremely close with every single one of those guys. Matter of fact, a lot of my discussion with y'all the other day, when that was coming out, that's really coming from them, too. They're frustrated and they were angry and they know that they can play better. They understand that. It's kind of all of us talking when I say that."

After allowing either one or two touchdowns in nine of the first 10 games this season, the Bears defense permitted five TDs to the Packers-including three Aaron Rodgers touchdown passes on Green Bay's first three possessions that capped drives of 75, 75 and 80 yards.

Nagy understands why some outside the organization assumed that defensive players would take exception to his comments. But he wasn't worried.

"There was zero concern in that regard," Nagy said. "I know that can come off that way to outsiders or people that aren't in the building, but I'll just say that there was zero concern of any of that where there's divisiveness or anything. There is none of that. We're all in this thing together.

"We're in a great spot for that part of it. And now, we just talked through, 'OK, why did that happen? Why did things go that way?' And then, I think that our defensive guys, they've got a lot of pride. And they're angry at how that went down. I think that they respect and understand where I'm coming from because they believe the same thing. That's what we talked about. That's where we're at, and they're motivated to get back out there."

Roster move

The Bears on Wednesday signed rookie defensive end Tyler Clark to their practice squad. Clark entered the NFL this year with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent from Georgia, but he was waived Aug. 11.

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