A game of missed chances for the Bears

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A game of missed chances for the Bears

Going for it on fourth down instead of kicking the field goal, which likely wouldve been good considering Robbie Goulds prowess. Coach Lovie Smith made that choice early in the second quarter, when the Bears were up 7-0.

In hindsight, Smith admits he shouldve chosen the latter.

The Bears couldnt convert that fourth-and-1 early in the game, and a dropped pass by a wide-open Earl Bennett later also proved costly in the Bears 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. If youre into playing the woulda, coulda, shoulda game, the Bears coulda had a decent lead at the half. Instead they were down 10-7.

And it could have started with that field-goal attempt the Bears didnt take.

We should have taken the field goal, Smith said. It felt like we had momentum. (I) wanted to really try to knock them out and get them on their heels a little bit. That was a big play in the game.

It was, and it was one that the Seahawks didnt let the Bears get. Seattles defense stopped Michael Bush at the 15-yard line, inches short of the first down. It wouldve been a 32-yard field goal attempt for Gould, who is 72-of-79 (91.1 percent) in the 30- to 39-yard range for his career.

Still, Smith also believed the Bears shouldve picked up those scant few inches on fourth down.

If youre going to win and be able to get in the playoffs and play good football at this time in the season, youve got to be able to pick it (up) and pick up a forth-and-short like that, he said. Every time a decision doesnt work out, I look at it and think that. Would I do it again? Probably so. Again, youve got to be able to get those fourth-and-shorts.

Bears center Roberto Garza said that fell to his group.

Obviously on that fourth-and-short, it is on the offensive line. We have to be able to convert that, Garza said. Its unacceptable. We get that, we get points and its a different story. We definitely left opportunities on the field and we have to do a better job.

The Bears had another chance to get points later, when a wide-open Bennett couldnt hold onto Jay Cutlers deep pass to him. Cutler said, I spun (Bennett) around a little bit and it was tough to catch. Hes going to say that he should have had it.

Bennett was flipped up and around on his touchdown catch early in the game. That play also may have led to the concussion that kept him out the second half.

The missed opportunities left the Bears scrambling for a late field goal to send the game to overtime. But one long Seahawks drive against a tired Bears defense later, the squandered chances really loomed large.

We shouldnt have been in that position, Cutler said. We had a fourth down early in the game, Earl Bennett dropped one and in the four-minute drive I fumbled the ball; things like that. In a game like this with two really good defenses going at it, one plan can swing the game. Offensively, we shouldve done a better job and not put ourselves in that position.

Blackhawks: Tommy Wingels fractures foot, will be ready for training camp

Blackhawks: Tommy Wingels fractures foot, will be ready for training camp

Tommy Wingels, who the Blackhawks acquired earlier this month, will miss 6-8 weeks after suffering a left-foot fracture during his offseason training. Team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement that the Blackhawks, “anticipate a full recovery in 6-8 weeks and in time for training camp. We do not anticipate any long-term issues.”

The Blackhawks signed Wingels, a Wilmette native, to a one-year deal on July 1. Wingels will still be at this weekend’s convention.

Bears training camp preview: Three burning questions for the offensive line

Bears training camp preview: Three burning questions for the offensive line

With training camp starting next week, CSN Chicago’s Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz are looking at three burning questions for each of the Bears’ position groups heading into Bourbonnais. Friday's unit: the offensive line. 

1. Will Kyle Long and Josh Sitton flip spots, and will it be effective?

One of the more intriguing storylines to come out of the Bears’ offseason program was the possibility of a Kyle Long-Josh Sitton guard swap, with Long moving from right to left and Sitton to left to right. The prevailing wisdom is that Long’s athleticism would be better suited for the pulls needed at left guard, while Sitton has made Pro Bowls at both positions. But is it prudent for the Bears to make this switch with Long still recovering from November ankle surgery and some nasty complications that came after it? He’s shown he’s skilled enough to already make one position switch on the offensive line (from right tackle to right guard), so there’s no reason to doubt he couldn’t handle another so long as he’s healthy. We’ll see where he is next week. 

“You want flexibility,” coach John Fox said. “You don’t want as much flexibility as we had to use a year ago because we had to play so many guys due to injury. But we’re messing around with (Sitton) and Kyle both playing opposite sides, whether one’s on the left, one’s on the right. We’ll get those looks in camp, we got plenty of time.”

2. Can Charles Leno Jr. capitalize on a contract year?

Leno has been a pleasant surprise given the low expectations usually set for seventh-round picks. He started every game in 2016, checking off an important box for John Fox — reliability. Whether Leno can be more than a reliable player at left tackle, though, remains to be seen (if the Bears thought he were, wouldn’t they have signed him to an extension by now?). He has one more training camp and 16 games to prove he’s worthy of a deal to be the Bears (or someone else’s) left tackle of the future. Otherwise, the Bears may look to a 2018 draft class rich in tackles led by Texas’ Connor Williams and Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey. 

“I know if I take care of my business out here, everything else will take care of itself,” Leno said. 

3. Will Hroniss Grasu survive the roster crunch?

A year ago, Grasu was coming off a promising rookie season and was in line to be the Bears’ starting center. But the Oregon product tore his ACL in August, and Cody Whitehair thrived after a last-minute move from guard to center. If the Bears keep eight offensive lineman this year, Grasu could be squeezed out: Leno, Long, Whitehair, Sitton and Bobby Massie are the likely starters, with Eric Kush and Tom Compton filling reserve roles. That leaves one spot, either for fifth-round guard Jordan Morgan or Grasu. The Bears could try to stash Morgan, who played his college ball at Division-II Kutztown, on the practice squad and keep Grasu. But Grasu doesn’t have flexibility to play another position besides center, which could hurt his case.