I'm going to start off and probably take about five minutes here to give you a little content, maybe some things you can work with. I first want to start with some thank yous certainly to the Soldier Field staff for the work they did yesterday before the game, during and after the game. A lot of work and planning went in to anticipating the storm. There was a lot of preparation by people in our building and people downtown and at the stadium too to make sure everybody was safe through the entire afternoon and I think all of our coaches here and our players really appreciate the work that was done. When I got home and turned the TV set on, I couldn't believe the devastation in some of the communities around Chicago. I said it after the game and I'd like to say it again that our prayers go out to those who lost a lot yesterday. Our prayers are with them. I also wanted to once again let our fans know we really appreciate them sticking around. They provided a lot of energy for us when we came back out after the first break and certainly from the start to the finish.
You hear this all the time. The announcers are starting to say it: It's tough to win in the National Football League. Just winning one game is really hard. The guys who have played the game and been around know how much work goes into putting a game plan together and preparing and we know as a staff and as a team that John Harbaugh and his staff and his team worked just as hard to put their game plan together. We have respect for our opponents and the coaching and the staff that they do. It helps us get an edge and prepare as hard as we do, and our guys do a great job of that. When I was in the locker room yesterday just walking around, I really felt an appreciative group of guys that knew that the reason we had won was because the guy next to him had worked so hard during the week. That's something that we can build on. We put in a lot of time and we gave ourselves a chance yesterday and fortunately for us it worked out.
I did look at the offensive tape pretty closely this morning. I did skim through the defensive tape not as closely as I'd like. So I'll do it again. And I haven't gotten to the special teams, so I'll refer to what I saw out there and to Joe's notes to me.
On the positive side offensively I thought we handled the weather really well. A lot of bad things happened to our football team yesterday in all three phases, but the most important thing is that we took care of the football and when you do that week-in and week-out—I say it every week—you take care of the ball and you've got a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter and we did. We were very efficient doing that on what you would expect to be a day where we might have turned it over. Teams turn it over in rain and in wind and we were able to hand onto the football and do that. So certainly I was appreciative of our guys for doing that. Secondly, I thought we won the line of scrimmage overall. We did a very good job of pass protecting and keeping Josh clean. There were a number of blitzes along the way throughout and I thought we did a very good job. Our young guys again across the board starting with Jordan and Kyle and working across the board toward our veteran group did a very good job. Our receivers who are paid so-to-speak to catch the ball did a terrific job on our perimeter blocking to help Matt and Michael make some plays. I thought we were excellent on the perimeter. We were able to get some points on our two-minute drive. I think we were 5 of 6 on third down in the second half. We certainly weren't as good in the first and we weren't as good in the first because Bushrod fell down in pass protection. We had Matt open. And then we dropped a couple of balls on third down, so those were three third-down conversions that we should have had that we lost. It minimized a pretty good day on third down against an extremely good third-down defensive football team. And we had the strong drive obviously to win at the end of the game. It was a tremendous effort by our guys for 60-plus minutes. It was a very physical game against a very physical team and I thought a lot of positives came out of that.
Certainly the downside was a very disappointing start. When we don't play well in the first 15, when we're making mistakes like that in the first 15, that's terribly disappointing to us. We had no sense that that was going to happen. We preview these things the day before. We talk through them the day of the game and it's not like our team to do that. Everybody took a turn. It really slowed our start; four mistakes on the first four plays. And then not being able to convert on the second drive because of the dropped ball really hurt us there.
Certainly we're disappointed in the red zone. We feel we got the right plays. Our last couple of weeks I've been very disappointed because we've gotten the ball to the single-covered guy, I mean we've thrown the ball to the guy but we haven't made the best of throws and we haven't put our guys in a position to make the plays, and when they're heating you up like they did yesterday in the red zone and run-blitzing you on first and second down, there's only one place to go and that's to go to the one-on-one side. We see it in every game and we didn't get that done in running inside or outside and it's something we have to pay close attention to because we had a fast start this season in the red zone and the last couple weeks that's dissipated, that can't happen. We have these long drives, we have to finish with drives. I know guy are mindful of that and that's something we have to work on to get better because we have to finish these drives, and we have to turn these drives into 7 points.
We had two false starts which is unlike us. As soon as you bring it up, somebody brought it up this week, ‘You know, you're really good in pre-snap penalties,' then all of a sudden it turns into a game of offsides, we had 2 on offense and then I think we had maybe 5 on the defensive side, we were offsides on a kick. The pre-snap penalties are just the worst thing you can do because you can control those. The officials don't control those, we control them, so that was extremely disappointing across the board.
Defensively just a coupe things that I'll hit on. I said it early in the week, I got asked about Mel, I think our defensive staff is doing an outstanding job of putting our guys in a position during the course of the game to win. On the positive side we had two takeaways, the interception by David Bass for a touchdowns, Cheta coming up on the fourth-down sack and fumble, we held Joe to a 53 rating, 17 yards was the longest pass, we had the goal-line stand and we forced them to punt in the overtime which gave us the football, had a chance to finish the drive with three points.
On the other side of it certainly, our third-down conversion percentage is still not what we like, but the plus side is, even though we started off giving up five of the first seven, out of the last 11, we were two out of 11, so that tells me that and should tell us that we're doing that we're doing some things defensively, Mel making some adjustments to get it done. We're not good enough in the red zone of course we made the stop at the end, they were two of three and then the fats start. Teams have had fast starts on us the last few weeks, Detroit did and the Ravens did as well and we just have to continue to work, build confidence in these young guys, continue to get our continuity together. We lost Stephen Paea during the course of the game we had guys moving in there helping out, Christian came in and did a good job of mixing it up. Landon Cohen again mixing it up and doing whatever they could to make some plays and create some edge in the front. As I said we had four offsides, which was brutal, just brutal. Pre-snap penalty on third down put them in a third-and-1. That's like a quarterback might as well thrown an interception because we're just putting the defense back on the field, can't happen. That;s something we have not done up until this game, we've been a very disciplined team in that regard and again it came down to we were able to take care of the football and get to plus-two which made it an equal game into the fourth quarter.
I thought our coverage teams on special teams were very good, we were very concerned about their two returners, very good players and our kickers did a good job and our coverage team was physical. We beat blocks down the field and we were able to cover and minimize that. The offside penalty was a very, very scary thing to have to rekick to their returners and force our guys to run down there 60 yards again but we were able to get it done and minimize the return again. But 13 penalties overall as a football team for 111 yards is I'm going to call it an aberration, hopefully it is. Not something we will have to contend with down the road.
With that I've opened myself up to some questions.
JAY AND LANCE?
Yeah, Jay would remain week-to-week and Lance is making progress, he's on schedule so I think we're still a couple of weeks away.
CUTLER OUT FOR SUNDAY?
I would rule Jay out for Sunday.
Paea would be, he went out injuring the same toe, the severity of that, I don't know much more than that. It'll be a week-to-week thing, see how he is.
WILL ARTIFICIAL SURFACE INDOORS HELP OR HINDER IN REGARDS TO STEPHEN'S AVAILABILITY
That I couldn't answer you from a trainer's standpoint. I just know that it's a week to week.
TOUGHEST CHALLENGE FROM THIS WIND-RAIN FIASCO FOR YOU?
The team really handled itself. They did a really good job. I mentioned that yesterday in the press conference. The way they managed their emotions, it was a quiet locker room. I saw some guys just listening to music, some guys just reading books. Some guys were on the bike. We got a couple of bikes in there to stay loose. Everybody did it a different way. I kind of went through some of the different things the offensive and defensive guys did as we moved through that time. They were very energized, as I said, I said yesterday, it appeared almost as if we were starting the game from that point on. That's how we left the locker room.
ANY REASON FOR THE DISCONNECT OFFENSIVELY EARLY
I really can't. It will be interesting to talk to the guys when they come back. How we put the first 15 together, we give them these plays not just to let them know what the starters are. But it is a red flag if they're not locked into exactly what to do. If they really have to think about these plays then they're not ready. Then that's a red flag for them to get back in their playbooks and spend more time on their game plan. It's something we haven't had a lot of but it was just one thing was stacked on another and, as I said, not a good start.
ANY WAY TO KNOW WHY THE PRE-SNAP PENALTIES AND SHOULD THEY BE ADDRESSED
Well, they're going to be addressed. When you have pre-snap penalties it's focus. It's really focus and being distracted in some way. So I think every man has got to ask themselves a question, "why did this happen to me at this time? Why would I be offsides on a kickoff? Why would I jump the snap count?" There's certainly reasons for it. There's certainly reasons for it. Some of it's focus. Maybe there's a miscommunication along the way and each one's got to be evaluated. I have to believe we'll get back to doing a better job. We'll be in the noise for the next two weeks. It's going to be a difficult environment for us to play in both weeks. We'll have to be very, very sharp.
TALKING TO D-LINEMEN, THEY SEEMED TO DISAGREE ON WHAT CAUSED THEM
I think there was some of that that is questionable. We're going to turn it in. I was talking to some of the officials during the course of the game about it. There was some extra movement that could have possibly have gone on. There were times I didn't see it. I watched him closely, I didn't see it. I think we'll turn it in and the league will make the decision in terms of moving forward. But it certainly may have affected us. I haven't had a chance to talk to the guys yet about it, or our players, but I will.
COMMUNICATION WITH PLAYERS THROUGHOUT THIS MESS AND HEADING INTO IT?
It's a good question. I did the best I can to let Josh know the reasons why we were doing things. Were we going to go for it on fourth down and why not in that situation? There was talk about it. But the decision was going to be made. We weren't going to do that based on we weren't going to put our defense in that position on a shorter field when we could punt it and they had to go against the wind. I talked them about our decisions in the third quarter: We're going to be patient. I spoke to the team the day before about the conditions of the game and I talked to them (that) we're going to have to be patient at times. The game is going to seem different because the wind is going to be a factor. We discussed that on Saturday before we dismissed them in the morning that this is going to be a different kind of game and when the wind is in our face this is how we're going to have to play it and this is what they're going to be thinking about when the wind is at their back. We went through all those scenarios with the team. So they were prepared on Saturday because we knew that the weather was going to be an issue. It made it easier during the game not to have to say as much and just to focus on the immediate condition. It was really the play by play immediate condition relative to the play calling. The guys were very patient in the third quarter. Our receivers were very patient. We were concerned about even taking a snap in the gun, the wind was coming so hard from sideline to sideline at times. So we managed the game hoping that our defense would hold, hoping that we could push the game into the fourth quarter and have a chance to push the ball down the field.
CONFIDENCE GROWING IN DEFENSE?
It grows, because I see what we're doing in practice. I see the work that's being put in. I stand behind the defense during their periods and I see the run fits getting better, the communication getting better. I like the fact that our coaches are embracing the development of our young players. We're not spending time thinking about the loss of some of the players that we've lost. We've taken all that energy into building the best defense we can to play good team football. So I'm confident that we're doing that weekly, so when the game comes and it doesn't go well at some points during the game, it doens't really change my feelings overall of how we're going to call the game offensively or manage the game until more of it evolves.
DO YOU SEE BOSTIC, GREENE AND BASS TAKING SIGNIFICANT STRIDES?
Oh yes, I do. No doubt about it. I thought Jonathan had his best game, myself, in terms of his physicality in terms of running form sideline to sideline. I think Khaseem continues to get better and more comfortable. And I've always been very comfortable with Isaiah. People forget that we lost Kelvin [Hayden] in training camp and he was a significant part of what our defense was going to be. Isaiah has just a very mature quality about him. He's a solid guy in terms of assignments and that's really helped my confidence in the back end, bcause of his play in the nickel.
HOW ENCOURAGED WERE YOU BY PEPPERS?
Very. I thought he's obviously gaining strength and momentum. Really his energy level was consistent throughout the game. We all had a sense during the week that this was going to be a game that he was going to turn it up. It was good to see.
SEEMS TO HAVE MORE GAS IN THE TANK SINCE THE BYE? DID YOU SENSE A TURNING POINT THERE?
I don't know that I sense that. I've talked to him a few times. We've chatted in my office a couple of times, just to catch up on things. I just feel like he's got a lot of pride in this football team. He doesn't want to let it down. He's done everything he can to get himself ready and I think we've manged his practice time very well. Mel and Mike Phair have manged his practice time very well to make sure that at his stage of his career his best is on Sunday. He's going to know what to do and how to do it. But he's ready to give his best on Sunday and we got a little bit of that yesterday.
IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT THE OFFENSE THAT FITS Josh McCown PARTICULARLY WELL?
No. I never look at things that way. Josh is a talented player and he plays within himself. I know that's a common coaching term. But he knows what his strengths are. he plays to his strengths. He tries to keep things simple in terms of how he does things. And he's got great work ethic. I would never put it on the system. I would put it more on the work ethic of the player, his focus on doing his job well. He's detail oriented, just like Jay is and quarterbacks who are efficient playing the game, they're very detail-oriented. Josh is one of those guys.
CAN JOSH'S PERFORMANCE ALLOW YOU TO BE MORE PATIENT WITH JAY?
Well we've always been patient. I know that's subject for discussion and differences of opinion. As I've said many times, we're not going to put a player out there if there's any sense that he's going to re-injure himself or hurt himself or harm himself. I don't ever make those decisions. I make the final decision certainly. But I listen to the doctors and the trainers. It's ultimately my responsibility to play a player. But we're going to do what I feel is the best thing to do and that's to listen to what the medical people say and then work those players out with coaches,see if they're at full strength and they can do all the things necessary to explode in a game. That's how we're going to approach it. We're going to be very, very careful.
FIRST, HOW TOUGH IS IT TO HAVE YOUR QB GO DOWN IN FIRST YEAR AS HEAD COACH? SECOND, ARE YOU SURPRISED AT BEING 6-4?
Answer to the first question is that you just take the day as it comes. You can't control the injuries. We appreciate the opportunity to work with these players. We know that Phil has given us the best players we can get. And we're always looking to get better whenever we can. We bring in guys and you've seen us bring in guys, the Landon Cohens, the David Basses, guys like that. I'm sure I missed a couple. But somehow on that account, record-wise, I really don't think about the record. I don't think it carries … We know where we are and we know where we're going and we know the road ahead, what it is. But I really don't spend a lot of time on the record. I don't' spend any time on the record. We're in a position to get our team better on Wednesday when we come in. And that's really the entire focus. There's no other issues other than that. And the beauty is that we have a team of players that they just do whatever you ask them to do. They come in and work hard, they understand that nobody's more important than the next guy on our team and they just work. And we've got coaches here who work really hard to get them ready to play. It's a great environment to be in. And I'm just appreciative to be one of the guys in the building.
WHY DIDN'T YOU USE YOUR TIMEOUTS AT THE END OF THE GAME?
I think it's a very fair question. But let me just give you a big picture. When you call timeouts at the end of halves, you want to call them in succession if you can. If you're calling them just hit or miss, there's really no value on that. So just a little bit of history, when you start a drive from the 16-yard line, you have a 13 percent chance probably in the last five years to score a touchdown. And you have to take that into consideration when you go into the game. And then when a team's driving, you need to know what they have and you need to know that you have. They had two timeouts at the time. And we had three timeouts. Well, the normal thinking is you never want to leave a game with your three timeouts. You want to get them back, especially in those situations. But the fact of the matter is that there was relay no time to use the timeouts. And when you're in a two-minute situation and if you use your timeouts and there's no way you can call them in succession, you give them more time on each and every play to get the people out there that they want to complete that, to get that play done. So you have to consider that. So really, only the first time where I considered really calling a timeout was after Ray Rice had the 11-yard run down to the 5 yard line. And he took that ball with, I think it was about 1:16 when he had that ball. That was the first time. I was down there with the official. That was the first time. But when you put it all together, the numbers all together, if you call three timeouts right there in succession, you're still only getting the ball back at 18 seconds. OK? If you let it run, they're in a 2-minute mode and now they've got to call two timeouts. So a couple things come into play with them using their two timeouts. Number one, they didn't call a timeout on the first one which means they had to call a play out of their 2-minute package instead of using their red zone package. So that's number one. They didn't call a timeout and get into different personnel groupings. They called a play. And then by using their two timeouts, we knew what they had to do on third down. They had to throw it. Because there wasn't enough time left to do anything else. So we cut the percentages in half of run to pass and then it was just one big leap of faith. If we had called three timeouts in a row, we've got 19, 18 seconds left at the max. So, the percentage of them scoring … It's a leap of faith. They went all the way down the field. Three points yes. Tied the game. Seven points? We're talking 13 percent. And then from an offensive standpoint as a play caller, I know if you call timeout, you get what you want out there. If not, you've got a limited bag of plays you can use. So that's the reasoning behind it. I would have loved to have been able to have a situation when they were running the ball and they started to get into that field goal area, where we could have plugged the timeouts, each one on top of each other. But that wasn't the case.
DO YOU LISTEN TO THE RADIO OR GET E-MAILS OR CALLS FROM THOSE WANTING McCOWN TO BE YOUR STARTER?
I don't get e-mails or calls. And I try to focus on what I'm doing. I don't spend a lot of time out there worrying about or considering those things. I stay focused on who I'm coaching at the time.
JAY IS THE STARTER?
Yeah. Jay is the quarterback of our football team. And Josh is our back-up quarterback. And the three of us all know that. And that hasn't changed and it's not going to change.
SHEA McCLELLIN, Jeremiah Ratliff?
I made a couple notes here. Let me just refer to that. Jeremiah is still working and working on it. So it's really a work in progress, still "week-to-week." I saw him working out today. So I know they're putting him through the regimen there. Shea should get out this week and start working on Wednesday.
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