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Bears Mailbag: Week 1 reactions, figuring out the o-line, concerns about Cairo Santos, and more

The Chicago Bears find themselves at (1-0) heading into a crucial Week 2 matchup at Lambeau Field against the (0-1) Green Bay Packers. With many still celebrating the surprising Week 1 victory, others are looking ahead to a big showdown on Sunday Night Football.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

For just the second time in close to a decade, the Chicago Bears find themselves in the win column after kicking off the season at Soldier Field this past Sunday afternoon. The weather wasn’t pretty, and neither was the game. Yet, a 19-10 final score made it all worthwhile for this team and their fans.

With plenty to talk about from last Sunday’s game, it’s also fair for some to already be looking ahead to Week 2 and beyond. The Bears will exit one tough game and head onto the road to another challenging game against the (0-1) Green Bay Packers. Lambeau Field will be rocking on Sunday Night Football, but that shouldn’t stop Bears fans from enjoying the week that was and the one ahead.

Join us weekly during the season as I try my best to answer your in-season Bears questions. With Week 1 in the books, it’s time to reflect on upset Sunday and look ahead to Packers week.

For many of us, one of the lone “downers” on Sunday had to be the performance of kicker Cairo Santos. After bursting (back) onto the scene two years ago, Santos has been about as reliable as any kicker in the NFL. That was, until Sunday, when he missed a pair of extra points.

The good news? Those missed points didn’t end up costing the Bears a victory. The bad news? Missing extra points (bad weather or not) is never a great thing. With all of that being said, I’m willing to let one bad outing slide. Especially when looking at the two years prior.

The weather was a sizable factor last Sunday. That didn’t stop former Bears kicker Robbie Gould from making both of his kicks, but if you look around the league, Santos was far from the only kicker who struggled in Week 1. As I always say with overall team results in Week 1, it’s always best not to overreact too much (good or bad) to anything we see in the first week of the season. At least for me, that’s how I’m going to approach Santos’ two missed kicks. If this continues through this coming Sunday, maybe we’ll have a different discussion. In the meantime, I’m not overly concerned.

San Francisco 49ers v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

This is actually a conversation I was having with a few other friends/writers earlier today. The Bears find themselves in a tough spot due to Lucas Patrick’s injury and the position they want him to play.

In an ideal world, Patrick would be healthy, or at the very least, the injury would have been to his non-snapping hand. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and the Bears are left juggling players on the interior for the time being.

Here’s my take: From what I have seen from Teven Jenkins so far, I feel comfortable saying he’s one of their better linemen. I also think that Jenkins’ future and long-term standing with the team are much brighter than someone like Cody Whitehair. I say that because Whitehair is on the wrong side of 30 and frankly, has not been very good over his last two seasons. Heading into the following offseason, he’s actually on my short-list of cut candidates (more on that later in the season, I’m sure).

With that in mind, Whitehair was voted captain and has the most starting experience on this current starting offensive line. He also hasn’t snapped a football in a live game since 2020. The old coaching staff valued him more at guard, thus giving us the Sam Mustipher experience over the past two-plus seasons.

Here’s what I’ll say on Mustipher. While I don’t believe he’s ever going to be good, he has looked improved over his 2021 season to me (so far). I do agree that it’s not an ideal long-term solution, but I think that’s exactly why the Bears worked Patrick in at right guard last Sunday. It seems clear that their plan is to get Patrick into game shape (while his hand heals) & when he’s ready to snap the ball, he’ll slide over to center, and Jenkins will see a full-time share of the snaps at right guard.

I’m not sure there’s a “right” way of going about this from the Bears’ perspective. Patrick missed almost all of training camp and all three preseason games. They need to not only get him back in game shape, but they also need to get him some live reps to make the transition back into the starting lineup an easy one. I think this coaching staff is doing about the best they can right now, and again, it’s all hinging on the health/ability of Patrick’s snapping hand.

I guess that we’ll see Patrick back at center by Week 3, maybe Week 4 at the latest. For the time being, I’d guess we see the same configuration (barring injury).

I want to first start by saying that I’m not entirely through my All-22 review of Sunday’s game yet, but I have re-watched the game enough times to at least have a solid basis for my general thoughts of the game. I did not see a large issue with their linebackers. I was very impressed with how the defense operated, though.

Roquan Smith is a bit undersized, and that was the case coming out of Georgia. Many believed he was better suited for a 3-4 front, but I believe he’ll be more than fine in this system. Nicholas Morrow is another guy who stands right around 6 feet tall and isn’t an overly big player. Ultimately, I think that the Bears would like to get into a spot where their linebackers have more length, but that will come over time.

For the time being, I think this group will be fine, and I did not see a lot of issues with them getting swallowed up any more than expected. In my opinion, the key importance in helping smaller linebackers is the defensive line. That’s where this team has some questions, especially when talking about run stuffers. I did notice the 49ers’ interior offensive line getting to the second level a decent amount, but that was expected. At least for me.

Much like the rest of this defense, it’s going to take some time to get the right personnel in here. I think Smith is a clear-cut fit and someone who should be around for the long-haul, but it wouldn’t shock me to see them eventually go with a bulkier and longer Mike.

It’s extremely difficult to take a lot out of the opening game of any season but especially one with the type of field conditions that this game had. I do agree that, at points, Getsy was far too conservative and, dare I say, predictable. With that being said, they made some fantastic halftime adjustments, and it looked like an entirely different offense in the second half.

The Bears have said all along that they want this to be a “run first” football team. That is a subjective term but the key point to take away from that is that they plan to stay committed to the run game. That means a lot of running on first and second down will happen. With that said, I hope they can find a way to get better production from their running backs, namely David Montgomery.

It’s hard to make anything look good when the players on the field are not executing. In a lot of ways, I truly believe that’s what happened in the first half. I would expect to see more rollouts, better creativity in the run, and less “run, run, pass” moving forward. Let’s pick this conversation up in a few weeks when we see this offense with a few more games under their belt.

Syndication: The Post-Crescent Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

The line at the punch bowl appears to be pretty long after Week 1’s upset victory, huh? I’ve spent the past few days fighting the urge to let my optimism get the best of me but let me tell you; it’s getting harder and harder to do. Especially when looking at the Packers players that will potentially miss Sunday night’s game. I also believe that the best time to beat good teams as an underdog is earlier in the season.

With all of that being said, here are a few reasons why I’m not sure I’m ready to pick the Bears on Sunday Night.

  • Aaron Rodgers- Enough said, right? His (22-5) record against the Bears is bad enough, but his track record coming off games in which he has no touchdowns and at least one interception is damn-near impeccable.
  • The 2021 Packers- We saw the Packers get blown out against the New Orleans Saints on the road last year by a 38-3 final score. They turned around and won seven in a row, and it would have likely been more if Rodgers didn’t go down with COVID right before the Chiefs game.
  • The Bears are (2-8) in their last 10 meetings against the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Here are a few reasons why I’m currently stuck in “So... You’re saying there’s a chance?” mode

  • Ranging back to Dave Wannstedt in 1993, each Bears head coach has beaten the Packers in their first year at the helm.
  • The Packers are extremely banged up on the offensive line, and let’s be honest, Rodgers isn’t getting any younger.
  • I still have a lot of faith that at some point soon, Fields is going to break out and not look back. What better team to do that against than the Packers?

This is all a long way of saying that I’m not sure. Can the Bears beat the Packers? Absolutely. It’s football. We see a lot of crazy things happen throughout the season. Will the Bears beat the Packers on Sunday night? You’re going to have to give me a few more days on that one.