Bears coordinators spoke to the media on Thursday. Here are four things we learned.
(1) Multiple factors were to blame for the Lions' 96-yard TD drive.
Protecting a 10-point lead, the Bears defense had 96 yards of wiggle room against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
That lead evaporated due to a seven-play drive that went the length of the field in just over two minutes, culminating with Matthew Stafford finding an open Marvin Jones Jr. for a 25-yard touchdown.
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said that there was no confusion between cornerback Jaylon Johnson and safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. on the play. Pagano blamed the broken play on a lack of execution that plagued the entire drive.
"We had similar plays and executed," said Pagano, "same calls versus the same concepts. They just kept running the same stuff. We just didn't execute the same way, for whatever reason."
Pagano conceded that his play-calling may have become too predictable against a veteran quarterback such as Stafford.
"Again, I've got to switch up," said Pagano. "I've got to change up. I've got to do some different things. And then we've got to make plays, and we've got to execute. Guys wouldn't tell you any different."
(2) The new offensive line continues to impress.
For the second week in a row, the Bears were able to gain significant yardage on the ground. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor cited center Sam Mustipher and guard Alex Bars, two former undrafted free agents who have impressed in their second seasons with the team.
"I think Sam and Alex are both really bright guys," said Lazor. "They play with a great attitude. They play with great energy. There's a number of pictures from each of the last two games where at the end of the play, those two are the first two guys running downfield to help the ball carrier up and pick him up or get defenders off of him."
Lazor believes that the current lineup has started to develop chemistry playing together in consecutive games, giving the offense something to build on.
"This group does a great job communicating," said Lazor. "With the offensive line, you always have to start getting everybody on the same page and doing it the same way, and it seems like this group does a great job with that. That's been a little bit of the momentum we picked up."
(3) The coaching staff is still puzzled by Robert Quinn's season.
The Bears' pairing of Quinn and Khalil Mack, both former Defensive Players of the Year, has not delivered the elite pass rush they might have expected.
In his first season with the Bears, Quinn has recorded 14 tackles, one sack, and no tackles-for-loss. Pagano has continued to explore ways to make the 10-year veteran more productive.
"We've looked at it every single way we can look at it," said Pagano, "and we continue to daily. Because he's a playmaker, and he's a talent. And it's not showing up."
Whatever concerns he has about the pass rush, Pagano does not question Quinn's determination to right the ship.
"He'd be the first one to tell you that 'I've got to make plays and when I have my opportunities, I've got to make them,'" Pagano said. "There are times he's getting doubled, he's getting chipped, all the same stuff. But '52' (Mack) and '94' (Quinn), they'll never make any excuses for that stuff."
(4) The future is bright for Cole Kmet.
Kmet caught five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown against the Lions. The rookie tight end has seen his playing time dramatically increase in recent weeks.
"I'm already excited for the future with him," said Lazor. "I think when you talk about what Cole is doing now, you saw some toughness with the ball in his hand. You saw some play speed with the ball in his hand."
Kmet's raw talent has never been in doubt. However, offensive coaches have emphasized patience while the 21-year-old develops into a more efficient player.
"Ability-wise, all the things in terms of ability that you want to see, he's already shown," said Lazor. "So what do you do from this point? You talk about the details of the route."
Lazor praised Kmet's attitude, which he believes will help the second-round pick improve dramatically over the season's final four games.
"A guy like Cole who really loves football and who is into it," said Lazor, "he'll spend time watching other tight ends around the league who are successful and see some of the nuances."