Performances on which to build

RB Kahlil Bell and QB Josh McCown gave Chicago's offense a much-needed spark in last night's defeat to the Green Bay Packers, offering a silver lining to an otherwise disappointing season.

While the Chicago Bears' 35-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers was not the result for which the team had hoped, some surprising positives came from the outing.

RB Kahlil Bell took advantage of his starting opportunity and opened eyes to his abilities on the field. With 121 yards in 23 attempts, Bell gave the offense a spark that had been missing since Matt Forte went down. Not only did Bell run well, he also had four catches for 38 yards. He would have had a touchdown in the third quarter, if not for a last second fumble that was picked up by G Edwin Williams and taken into the end zone.

After the game Bell seemed more upset with his mistakes than with his success. Some film review of this solid performance should help him come out feeling better about things.

RB Kahlil Bell
Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire

Journeyman QB Josh McCown also played well. Nobody outside of Halas Hall really knew what to expect from McCown. What we saw on Sunday was a quarterback with poise and mobility. He seemed relaxed in the pocket and was able to energize his teammates. The offensive line gave him the time to execute and McCown took full. He did throw two costly interceptions but with him under center, the Bears tallied 441 total yards, the largest single-game total of the season.

In time of possession, Chicago held the ball for 35:48, compared to Green Bay's 24:12. Where the offense fell short was in red zone efficiency, converting just 50 percent of their opportunities, and in penalties, with six for 28 yards, many coming at inopportune moments in the game.

Many teams this season have found it difficult to stop the Packers, and Chicago is no exception, having fallen to them three times the past 12 months. The Bears came into Lambeau Field as underdogs and met expectations as far as the final score was concerned. But considering the performances of both McCown and Bell, there might be something to build on here for the future.

For now, all playoff hopes are gone for the Bears. It's time to move on to thoughts of free agency, offseason training activities and the NFL draft. This wasn't the season that anybody, and most certainly not GM Gerry Angelo or coach Lovie Smith, had hoped for. So we'll take comfort that a reliable running back has emerged and a backup quarterback might have made his mark. It may be cold comfort, but at least there is hope for a better year to come.

And if you yearn for a winner right now as a welcome distraction from the NFL playoffs, in which the Bears will not participate, you might check out the Chicago Bulls or Blackhawks, both teams with championship-caliber squads.

Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.

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