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Chalk Talk

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Chalk Talk: Why didn't Bars start at left guard?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

I was wondering why Alex Bars did not start at left guard Sunday against the Panthers. After allowing an early sack versus the Buccaneers, I felt like he played well last Thursday night versus a tough front.
Sean L.
Falmouth, Massachusetts

Coach Matt Nagy opted to start Rashaad Coward at left guard primarily due to his edge in NFL experience. Coward started the final 10 games last season at right guard after Kyle Long was injured, while Alex Bars played only 12 snaps on offense in 2019 as an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame. Here's how Nagy explained the decision and how he assessed Coward's performance in Sunday's road win over the Panthers: "We put a lot of stock into what these guys have done up until now … There were a couple of plays here and there that Rashaad had that he probably wants back. But I thought there were a lot of other plays where, all things considered, he did a pretty good job."

Why didn't the Bears run the ball late in Sunday's game in Carolina on third down instead of passing it and having an incompletion that stopped the clock?
Roger S.
Texas

The situation you're referring to occurred with the Bears protecting a 23-16 lead and facing third-and-two from their own 46 with 1:44 to play and the Panthers having one timeout remaining. Nick Foles' short pass intended for Allen Robinson II was broken up and the Bears were forced to punt. The Panthers took over at their own 20 with 1:32 remaining, and DeAndre Houston-Carson intercepted a Teddy Bridgewater pass on Carolina's first play of the drive to preserve the win. Here's how Nagy explained the decision to pass on third down: "If you get that first down right there, it's game over. You don't punt the ball back to them. You can run the ball and possibly get it, and you make them burn a timeout, but that's not an aggressive approach. It doesn't mean that if we're in that situation again that we can't run the ball. But being in the situation that we were right there, we felt like we had a play we liked. We felt really good, all of us, with the decision to do that. It's one of those ones that if you get it, it's a great call and it's game over. And if you don't, it stinks and you've got to give the ball back to them. We've got to finish the end of those games."

When was the last time the Bears didn't have any kickoff returns in a game?
Leo R.
Chicago

Sunday's win over the Panthers marked the first time the Bears did not return a kickoff in a game since Nov. 24, 2019 in a 19-14 win over the Giants at Soldier Field. In that contest, Aldrick Rosas recorded two touchbacks and sent a third kickoff out of bounds. On Sunday in Carolina, the Panthers' Joey Slye boomed all five of his kickoffs out of the end zone for touchbacks, effectively taking the ball out of the hands of Bears All-Pro kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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