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5 things we learned from Bears assistant coaches


Bears assistant coaches spoke to the media Monday after the 41-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Here are five things we learned:

(1) The defense will respond to coach Matt Nagy's callout.

Win or lose this season, the Bears defense has generally been above criticism as focus was trained on the anemic offense. That changed after the unit allowed 34 points against the Packers and struggled to make impact plays.

On Monday, Nagy referred to the defense's struggles, saying that the performance was "not who our defense is." Defensive position coaches responded to the challenge by acknowledging the unit's deficiencies.

"We didn't play our best ball," said secondary coach Deshea Townsend. "We know that we have to look in the mirror whenever that happens. That's the coach's job to make sure he's holding us accountable. That wasn't the standard we wanted to play in last night."

Defensive line coach Jay Rodgers urged his players late in the game to make adjustments for the sake of pride and progress even though the game was out of reach.

"I think when you watch the tape as a coach [or] you watch the tape as a player," said Rodgers, "there are so many plays that you [see that] could be so much better. We continue to strive to a high standard of defense for several years, and we didn't play to that standard."

(2) Everything fell into place on David Montgomery's 57-yard run.

After scuffling for most of the season, the Bears' running game found success early against the Packers, with Montgomery breaking a 57-yard run on the team's second play on offense.

"I thought it was a great job all around," said running backs coach Charles London, "not only by David, but I thought the offensive line did a great job. They gave us the look that we kinda expected to get. It was blocked very well. Receivers blocked well. And it was really a group effort there."

Montgomery was tackled on the eight-yard line, which proved to be consequential after two consecutive dropped passes forced the Bears to settle for a field goal. London applauded Montgomery's effort.

"I know he did want to score there at the end," said London. "He had a really nice stiff-arm to keep one defender away. The other [defender] was there to kinda make up for his buddy. But I dunno that there's much [Montgomery] coulda done different."

(3) Allen Robinson II should have had three touchdown catches against the Packers.

Robinson was Mitchell Trubisky's top target in the red zone and recorded two touchdowns in the game. However, Robinson's failure to come down with a contested ball on the Bears' first drive of the game deprived the Bears of their only chance to take the lead against the Packers.

As the team's top receiver, Robinson is expected to make that catch, especially by his position coach.

"[Robinson] said he ended up catching the football until he was kind of getting ready to go to the ground," said receivers coach Mike Furrey, "and I guess [Packers cornerback Kevin] King came in from the side and ended up hitting it out, but him and I both would tell you that no matter what King did or the play that King made, that he needs to make that catch."

Robinson has recorded 71 catches this season for 829 yards and four touchdowns.

(4) Expect a bounce-back game from Roquan Smith.

Smith has been one of the team's most consistent performers this season, but had a quiet game in Green Bay. Smith finished the game with five tackles and ended his seven-game streak of recording at least one tackle for a loss.

If any player should be expected to bounce back against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, it is Smith.

"I expect to see Roquan on Wednesday with great focus and ready to have a great game," said inside linebackers coach Mark DeLeone. "He's shown me that throughout his season [with] his consistency [and] the way he approaches the game."

DeLeone rejected the idea that Smith had a down game by conventional standards, only conceding that he had not met the level of play established in the first 10 games of the season.

"He has a level of respect from me that I trust that he's going to come in Wednesday with an outstanding mindset," said DeLeone, "and he's going to be locked in and focused and playing angry and playing with a chip on his shoulder."

(5) Sam Mustipher could stick at center.

The offensive line debuted a new lineup that included only one player, left tackle Charles Leno Jr., who started at the same position as he did in Week 1. Germain Ifedi moved from right guard to right tackle; Cody Whitehair moved from center to left guard.

Mustipher took over at center for the second time this season and saw positive results.

"He's got a big heart, very smart, very competitive," said offensive line coach Juan Castillo. "You know, guys like that, sometimes all they need is an opportunity. And that's what he has, and so far, he's making the best of it. I think he's good for the group. The way he plays is like a construction worker, pounding away every play."

Castillo credits Mustipher's offseason work to push himself from an undrafted rookie who spent an entire season on the practice squad to a leader of the offensive line.

"When we got here, I talked about [him] putting on weight," said Castillo. "He was about 305 or so, and now he's 320 pounds. There's a difference, you know. 10-15 pounds make a big difference, you know. And he's done all the extra work."