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Bears offense hopes to build on positives from loss

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In last Sunday night's 34-14 season-opening loss, the Bears advanced into Rams territory on seven of eight possessions and picked up first downs on all eight of their drives in the game.

Their 24 first downs were tied for the third most in the NFL in Week 1. They had no three-and-outs, and they scored touchdowns on two of three red-zone possessions.

But the efficiency the offense displayed in Los Angeles was offset by an inability to finish in the end zone—something the Bears are focused on correcting as they prepare for Sunday's home opener against the Bengals. 

"I thought we moved the ball really well," said quarterback Andy Dalton. "When you look at what we were able to do, we had longer drives. Going back to that defense, that's what they make you do. I thought we did that at times. [But] we stalled a couple times there. We went for it on fourth down, weren't able to get it."

While the Bears converted 45.5 percent of their third-down opportunities (5 of 11), their downfall came in going 0-of-4 on fourth down—which abruptly ended half of their eight possessions with no points.

On the first two failed fourth downs, Dalton's pass intended for Allen Robinson II was broken up by cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and Dalton was sacked and fumbled before he was able to throw a pass to David Montgomery. 

"We had a contested play on the first one and we weren't able to convert," Dalton said. "The second one, if I would have had just a half-second longer and I don't get hit from behind, David Montgomery is wide open. There's little things we can go back and look at and say, 'Hey, if we can do this just a little bit better … it can change the course and the outcome of the game.'"

“[We need to] really hit it hard and be critical at the same time but also know that we did do some good things that could really bolster us going forward.” Bears RT Germain Ifedi

The only time the Bears failed to score points in the red zone came on the game's opening drive. On third-and-1 from the Rams' 3, Cole Kmet was penalized for a false start. Pushed back five yards, Dalton's pass intended for Darnell Mooney was deflected and intercepted in the end zone.

"The key is just our execution down there," said right tackle Germain Ifedi. "A couple of times we shot ourselves in the foot …

"It was an encouraging start the way we were able to move it versus a really good defense, a really sound defense that's been really good for a long time. [We've got to] just keep working at that, but [there were] definitely some things to build on. [We need to] really hit it hard and be critical at the same time but also know that we did do some good things that could really bolster us going forward. It is a long season."

No one is happy or satisfied with the Bears producing only 14 points. But there were some optimistic signs on offense that provide hope for the future. 

"The No. 1 encouraging thing is just being able to move the ball, creating first downs," Robinson said. "We didn't convert on some fourth downs. But … I think everybody, when the ball was in their hands, made some plays. We just have to kind of fine-tune some stuff and capitalize on some of the other opportunities we have."

Intent on getting the ball out of Dalton's hands quickly against superstar Aaron Donald and a ferocious Rams pass rush, the Bears' game-plan involved throwing short passes. But that doesn't necessarily mean the offense won't employ more of a vertical passing attack versus other opponents.

"I think that we have the players to be able to do it," Robinson said. "And I think when you look at guys' histories that are here who are able to make those plays, we have that. For me, that's Week 1. [We're] putting that behind us, obviously making corrections and things like that. I think we have all the players and playing ability to be able to do that."

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