CHICAGO — When offensive line coach Harry Hiestand reviewed the Bears' loss to the Packers last week, he identified two opponents his guys struggled to block.
One was the Packers' formidable front seven, led by nose tackle Kenny Clark.
The other, more abstract foe was the reason the veteran line languished as part of the offense's rotten season debut.
"When the expectations are high for all of us as players and coaches, and you're not having the success you've anticipated, I think it doubles down a little bit," Hiestand said. "That was the sense I got, and we just couldn't work our way out of it."
Hiestand's postmortem of a lamentable performance revealed an offensive line that was destabilized by expectations. Players focused too much on negative results piling up instead of reverting to blocking fundamentals to help the offense gain traction, he said.
The Bears surrendered five sacks, were flagged four times on the offensive line for holding or illegal use of the hands and openly regretted not running the ball more.
Players and coaches have taken turns raising their hands to accept blame, and Hiestand offered an honest critique of his group, confident in its ability to reset for Sunday's road game against coach Vic Fangio's Broncos.
"You have to be able to focus on things that help you and don't focus on, 'Jeez, we should be gaining more yards than that,' or, 'Jeez, he just got sacked,'" Hiestand said.
"Just focus on doing your job and using the technique that you worked on. Play together as a unit and you'll work your way through it. We just never worked our way through it."
Hiestand's repair job began with self-criticism regarding one of the game's low points for the offensive line.
The Bears had third-and-1 in Packers territory in the second quarter. They were driving to retake the lead after the Packers had scored a touchdown to go ahead 7-3.
Coach Matt Nagy called a handoff to kickoff returner Cordarrelle Patterson, a personnel choice Nagy defended by citing Patterson's proven toughness as a ball carrier and ability to break tackles.
"We could've had Walter Payton back there and he wasn't getting anything," Nagy said Friday. "It wouldn't have mattered."
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The reason? Clark swam past new center James Daniels and tackled Patterson in the backfield.
Clark normally plays a two-gap technique, meaning he accounts for the lane on each side of the center. But he stunted on the short-yardage run, jetting past Daniels with quickness that belied his 314-pound frame.
"I didn't prepare him for that pressure in that front," Hiestand said. "He was playing it like a normal two-gapper ... so that one looked really, really bad on him."
CHICAGO — Over a long weekend, the Bears had time to contemplate where in the world their running game went in the season-opening loss to the …
Daniels, meanwhile, processed it as one of several learning experiences in his first start at center since two seasons ago at Iowa.
"I have to expect that he's going to do something like that," Daniels said. "When you're blocking a player like that, you know every play you have to be on or he's going to beat you."
The list of negative plays was too long for anyone's liking in the offensive line's meeting room.
The holding penalty against Kyle Long. Right guard Cody Whitehair getting blocked back by Clark into the path of tight end Ben Braunecker, which wrecked a potential shovel pass. The hit on quarterback Mitch Trubisky that turned a potential late-game touchdown pass to running back Mike Davis into an underthrown incompletion.
"We were pressing a little bit, trying to make the big play," left tackle Charles Leno said. "You've got to let that stuff go, just take care of the simple stuff and execute the technique that's used."
For Hiestand, that will be the focus of practice this week.
Fundamentals such as targeting a block in a specific part of a defender's body to prevent him from taking a quicker, inside route to the quarterback.
Linemen regrouping their hands as a play progresses to ensure Trubisky has time and space to throw downfield on plays that take a bit longer to develop. And, of course, making sure run blocks are solid so Nagy has confidence in calling runs.
"It's important that our pads are lower than their pads," Hiestand explained. "You can't give (defenders) a lot of surface to grab onto or hook onto. Because it's easier to grab when you're higher and moving laterally than it is when you're lower and moving forward."
As the Bears see it, these are problems within their control. Fixing them fast is the only way forward because the expectations for this season aren't going anywhere.
"Hopefully we limit the human error and the mental lapses," Long said. "The game is hard enough. Make it so they have to beat us. Don't beat ourselves."