Practiced inside today, lot of third-down work, special situations, third down-and-medium, long, extra long, both sides of the ball, lot of good competition, pretty efficient practice, good energy, got them off early today, took a period off of practice, cut it short, 5-10 minutes to try to get them a little more rest, get them off their feet, played a hard game on Sunday on a soft field, so try to get their legs back. We're going against a football team's that's going to be fresh, we want to be as fresh as we can.
Pat went full today, Shea practiced full today and Jordan practiced as well, so we feel good about that, get some people back. Craig worked non-contact today in practice, he was limited, Isaiah worked non-contact today, was limited and Jeremiah got some work as well.
JOSH SAYS HE'S FEELING MORE COMFORTABLE IN HIS ROLE; ARE YOU COMFORTABLE WITH HIM?
I've been comfortable with him from the beginning. We just keep going along, we're working at it every day, trying to focus on things we can get better at and continue to progress and get the offense in a position to have more success on Sunday so it's good.
JOSH'S CAREER PATH
You just learn that every quarterbacks' on their own journey. They all start at different places, they all finished in different places. You look a the history of the game and where quarterbacks come from. Some are drafted in the first round and do well, other don't. Others are drafted the 199th pick in the draft and they wind up winning three Super Bowls and are Hall of Famers, other guys are working in a grocery store one year and the next year they're MVPs in Super Bowls. Another guy I coached didn't start playing til he was 29 years old and he's in the Hall of Fame today, so they all have their own way of reaching this moment. Josh in an unselfish guy who works very hard, who just has been working hard his whole career, doing whatever is asked of him to do and he's in a position to help this football team and I don't think he's carrying it on his shoulders. The guys around him want to help, and I hope he doesn't feel like he has to carry the team. I've said this before up here, we don't want anyone to have to carry the team or put the team on his back. Everybody's got a role and a responsibility and Josh knows what his is and he's doing a good job of taking on that responsibility.
JOSH IS 34. CAN YOU TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS?
I can't speak to any other profession. but i don't know of any other one where you learn something new about it every day like you do in the game of football because there's so many variables - on multiple levels, football levels, people levels, emotional and mental and physical levels. There's all different ways of learning on a daily basis so I don't think it has to stop there. And like I said everybody is not their own journey in their own place emotionally, physically and you now Josh is in that place right now.
JAY HELPING JOSH
He's been awesome. I mean, we see it in the classrooms and our meeting rooms every day. they sit next to each other. They're always in conversation. jays in his ear during practice - you don't get to see that - but he's in his ear during practice. Positively reinforcing him but also telling him what he sees and is very direct with him at times and in a way that their friendship can handle it. And Jay's always very positive - I don't want you to take it any other way because he is - but if he should have taken another hitch on a throw or he should have moved on to another man early, Jay will be there to let him know and help him and the thing about it is - josh goes to him as well.
CHARACTER OR TEAMMATE?
Your character is who you are. And part of who he is is being a good teammate. I think they go hand and hand.
WHEN A QB IS OLDER, DO THEY PROTECT THE FOOTBALL BETTER?
It's a loaded question. I just think it's all an individual basis. I don't think there's a QB playing the game today who doesn't on a yearly basis go back and number one - start over with his fundamentals, understand that he's gotta protect the football and work at ball security. You have to work on it every day - you see it before we warm up, the first thing we do is ball security. and the qbs are really truly the only defenseless player on the field in some ways. there's other that are certainly close and so they not only have to protect themselves but protect the ball and that's a constant day to day project to get that done.
WILL JAY BE BETTER WHEN HE COMES BACK?
Well I think any quarterback would say they learn much more when they're playing than they do when they're watching. But I think certainly that Jay hasn't spent a lot of time on the sideline during the course of the game, seeing the dynamic that takes place and I think that's a good thing. I think that he would express that - to see how it is all put together when he's on the field and how we go about doing business and I think that helps him along the way but you'd have to ask him where the learning curve is in that regard. But we're always learning something from everything we do because like I said there's so many different variables - on play by play, quarter by quarter, game by game minute that we're all gonna learn something from it.
RED ZONE OFFENSE NEEDS WORK
We worked on it today. We've got to do a better job of throwing back shoulder fades and doing the things that we've been able to do during the season. We've certainly had some. He's done that. We saw that in previous games. We've just got to be more consistent at it. So we made a point, not only in fades, but all the different routes we run in the red zone to try to prepare us for tomorrow really which is our red zone day. But we did a lot of one-on-one today in the red zone and in the tight red zone as well just to practice it not only from an offensive standpoint but from a defensive standpoint as well.
JOSH SAYS PENALTIES, SLOW STARTS MUST GET BETTER
Ya know, it's encouraged every week to get on the iPad, get with your teammates, go over the first … On Saturday morning we give them the plays. They know exactly what we're going to start with during the game. And we hold them all accountable for being on top of those things. We've been very good. It's something that's constantly stressed by assistant coaches, myself, during the last 48 hours before a game to get back in your game plans. Don't get bored with your game plans. Don't get bored with plays. Visualize them. Walk through them. Talk through them. Do whatever you have to do to get ready. And we're all responsible to do that. There's nothing that we give them that they shouldn't be able to run and execute. Particularly with that kind of advanced understanding. So we were disappointed. And Josh has his point. And it's a good one. We can't let that happen again. We can get beat physically. But we can't get beat because we don't know what we're doing. That's something different entirely. So we've got to go to work with that and get better this week.
CUTLER OUT OF THE CAST FOR GOOD?
I really don't have an answer for you. It's really a week to week thing. Really on the cast or the brace he has, it might be a day to day thing. But I'm really not any more informed than that. Other than that I know Jay is going to be week to week. I said day to day (Wednesday). I meant week to week yesterday. And we'll see where he is. You see him in practice. You're getting a good idea of where he's at. You see him moving around, trying to move around during the individual periods that you're out there to see and get a good idea of where he's at. And hopefully he won't have to have the cast put on. But I wouldn't even know the scenarios that would force him to put the cast back on.
ASSESSMENT OF THE RUN DEFENSE
We've been inconsistent. I think that's where we're at. We've been at times we've been able to do very well. And at times we haven't. Statistically I'm not quite sure where we are, but I'm sure we're not doing as well as we certainly would like to. It's a constant battle each and every week. Some teams have gotten some long runs on us, certainly. We saw that the other day. But we've also been able to make some stops and find ways to shut people down. We hope we can do that again. We don't expect that we're going to eliminate it all. We're just trying to get better. And we have a sense that we are. We have a sense that we are getting a little bit better. We're doing it with new guys and young guys and we know that. And that's just where we are. We're not where we would want to be. I think we're a work in progress, so to speak. And I think the guys are up for the challenge. And we've got another challenge with this young running back on Sunday.
IMPRESSIONS OF Zac Stacy
I like him. He looks like he's built low to the ground. He bounces off of tackles. We've got to wrap him up. He's relentless. He's a relentless runner. He's very impressive. I got a good look at him last night. He's a little bit like Rice probably in some regards. He looks a little bit like him -- maybe not quite as thick on top. Certainly a guy who churns those legs, he keeps moving, he can bounce outside and he's a guy that I think they feel very good about and can give them some running game.
HOW IMPRESSED ARE YOU WITH BRANDON WORKING WITH ALSHON AND VICE VERSA
That's a long question that would take some time to answer because I've been impressed on all levels. It started in the spring where Brandon took Alshon down to Florida and started working with him on how to work out, how to train, nutrition. I've said this up here before: really changed his body. He's in outstanding condition. He's in Brandon Marshall condition. He can go all day. He's a relentless worker and we're very lucky to have them both. They're a pleasure to coach. They're very, very smart, which is a big part of it from our standpoint because they're quick learners, they're one-rep guys. You tell them how to do something, they do it. They're completely low maintenance in terms of day to day working with them.
He just has a great sense for the game. He moves around. He's in the right place. He's a finisher. He's relentless to the ball. He's really impressive too in term of his just ability ... he's got great football sense. You can see it, how he reacts, how he moves. You know, how he reacts, how he moves, you know, his drops in coverage. His ability to play man-to-man coverage it's very good. They're solid. Their edges are solid. They're solid down the middle. Their corners are, as I said yesterday, they're young but they're playing well. They've got a young safety back there. The safety is, I think, a second-year guy and the other is a four-year guy. So they've got a young secondary that's alive. It's all about speed in this game and all three phases these guys on defense can run. Special teams they've got guys that can run as good as anybody and offense they've got speed, as well. I know I took you through all the three phases out of Laurinaitis there but he is a focal point because he's in the middle of the defense and he's doing a very good job.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.