Hub Arkush: There was a silver lining in Bears' loss to the Packers

  • Bears center/guard Alex Bars has played well his last two games.

    Bears center/guard Alex Bars has played well his last two games. Associated Press

  • Bears lineman Sam Mustipher has had a strong showing the last two games, and coach Juan Castillo has praised his work ethic and that of teammate Alex Bars.

    Bears lineman Sam Mustipher has had a strong showing the last two games, and coach Juan Castillo has praised his work ethic and that of teammate Alex Bars. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/3/2020 11:30 AM

The odds of finding a glimmer of hope in the Bears' 41-25 drubbing at the hands of the Packers Sunday are just marginally better than your chances of winning the lottery.

But there actually may have been some semblance of a silver lining in the Bears' 18th loss to Green Bay in their last 21 games.

 

The offensive line -- with only one starter in the same spot from Week 1 -- played arguably its best game of the season. They were downright adequate, if not better.

Yes, adequate is a low bar, but it's a bar the Bears haven't approached since the third week of the season.

In spite of his overall disgust on the morning after Matt Nagy said this about his offensive line, "There's some things I feel like, in the run game, was a lot better. I thought protection was a lot better.

"I thought our offensive line played their (butts) off. They did a good job of fighting."

After sleeping on it for a couple of nights Nagy went even further Wednesday.

"I felt really good about those guys," he said. "For their first time playing together, there was some penetration on the other side of the ball. You could see that there was some nice holes that were created with some of the run game, and in the pass game, there wasn't a lot of leakage.

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"Big picture, I was really happy with how they played. In all the negativity that happened in that game and all the frustration we had, when you try to pull some of the good, we grew with that lineup."

Here's what is so significant about this:

Sam Mustipher has now had a couple of games to show he can more than handle his own at center.

Cody Whitehair is a better center than he is a guard, and while James Daniels' ceiling is highest at center, Mustipher isn't a guard, but Daniels was playing very well at guard before his injury.

Alex Bars has shown he can start at center or guard and the line gets better, not worse.

As much as the Bears need to add talent up front, now that they've auditioned Mustipher and Bars, if they're set on the interior and only need to add tackles, they are in much better shape going into the offseason than we thought.

Germain Ifedi probably isn't the long-term answer at right tackle, but he was better there than Jason Spriggs or Rashaad Coward, and what's intriguing about Bars is his most natural position may be left tackle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We all cheer for guys like Sam," line coach Juan Castillo said. "You know, overachiever, a smart person that doesn't know anything but 110%. And he's done all the extra work. He's got a big heart, very smart, very competitive. You know, guys like that, sometimes all they need is an opportunity.

"Sam and Alex, they outwork everybody. They are smart. And all of a sudden good things happen."

Ifedi will be a free agent after the season, and Charles Leno and Bobby Massie are near certain salary cap casualties.

If the draft were today the Bears would pick between 14 and 17.

Starting left tackles drafted in those spots over the last 10 seasons include Nate Solder (17th), Taylor Decker (16th), Kolton Miller (15th) and Austin Jackson (18th). All are significant upgrades over Leno.

For good measure, consider the Cowboys got All-Pro guard Zack Martin 16th in 2014.

There are more evaluations to be done, but suddenly is it possible a quick fix to make the Bears offensive line well above average may not take as much capital or anywhere near as long as we thought?

• Twitter: @Hub_Arkush

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