Injuries: Matt had a slight hyperextension of his knee and we'll see how he is on Wednesday, we're optimistic about it, you just have to see in these cases, we'll know a lot more on Wed. Jay remains week to week, I don't expect him to play on Sunday we'll just leave it at that, it is week to week and there's nothing other than a high ankle sprain involved here, I want to make that very clear. Briggs is week to week, we'll see how Stephen Paea is on Wednesday and Ratliff will continue to practice and we'll evaluate him through the week.
Just basically tell you what I told the team today:
You can't go on the road. You can't get down 14-0. Our guys played extremely hard, you can't do that and discipline is a word that means a lot of different things to us. Discipline means you have to be lined up in the right place, you have to know where to go and you have to know where to be and then you have to do your job. So there's discipline and position in how you play your position and I'll dovetail that in a minute. There's also discipline as it relates to penalties. The penalties this week were completely different than the penalties last week. Last week they were pre-snap penalties based on focus, a lot of these penalties were subjective penalties and we're not going to comment on those penalties and the decisions made, but they were different kinds of penalties; five of them came on one drive, on an offensive drive where our offense overcame those penalties and scored. But when you talk to your football team there's really three things you have to do. You have to win the turnover battle, which we didn't do. We were down 1, we didn't create any turnovers and we lost one early that dramatically affected the game on that particular play. That's No. 1, No. 2 is you have to be penalty-free and that's discipline wise and we did a good job with pre-snap penalties on both sides, we were focused certainly and we played hard, but we had penalties, and what penalties do on the road is they stress your football team. They can stress your football team in a number of different ways. The penalties that we had stressed our football team. After the first series, St. Louis, that score didn't stress our football team. We don't want to give up a score that early, we've done it three weeks in a row to my recollection. We want to start faster but we wouldn't do it. That doesn't stress your football team. What does is you have a penalty on the kickoff and then you turn the ball over and it's 14-0 in a blink of an eye.
Fortunately we‘ve got a very resilient football team and we came back and on play 2 of the first 15 we went 80 yards for a touchdown and executed the first 15 beautifully, all the way into the red zone and we finished. But again, as I told our team, the penalties portion of it really diminished our ability to get some things done and it took more time off the clock then we needed it to do. We also spent three minutes on the goal line trying to score a touchdown. Now, we scored 3 touchdowns on the play on that series but we had penalty, and we had penalty and then we took some time to get it done as well. We had 1 or 2 defensive penalties involved as well, so taking 3 minutes off the clock to score from a yard when you've gone the distance to get there. But you have to appreciate, I do appreciate the resiliency of our football team to get it in the end zone.
We were in the red zone four times yesterday we got in three times. Did we want to get in 4? Yes. Could we have? Yes. We didn't execute and our guys know that. We didn't have the quality execution that we needed on three plays to get that done.
Really thirdly, and it goes back to the discipline part is defensively because I know there's a lot of different ways to win football games and that's one of the ways I told our team this morning. You can give up a bunch of yards and win. IT can be a high-scoring game and still win. There's a lot of different ways to win, but what we've got to be able to do is execute our assignment and when we fit the run right on one play and they run the play, the same play and we don't fit the run again the same way, we've got to go back to work and get it done because we didn't get it done in that regard. We had times where we fit the run and we didn't fit it right, so that's where Mel's at there.
And in our pass coverage, when we're in zone coverage, we have to be in the right spots, we have to do that so we're going to go to work again and trey to get that done. As I said before you can give up 150 or 200 yards in rushing and still win a game. It was proven yesterday, that can happen in other games. But you have to be able to do the other things right, you have to be able to create the turnovers. Last week we created the turnovers and won the turnover battle and we had a lot of penalties. But the turnovers maximized our ability to win the game, and we were fortunate to win. There's this formula to some degree that you have to have. We didn't get that done. We didn't execute our goal-line offense yesterday on the fourth-and-1, but we converted in the red zone three out of four times offensively. We did an exceptional job on third-down conversions, but we took to long to score on a couple of occasion because of the penalties that we were able to still overcome.
As we move into next week, it was a very quick meeting with the players today. We're going to go back to work. We're sitting right where we were a week ago one week more into the season. We're going to use what happened on Sunday as a learning experience for us and we've got to gather energy and move forward. We've got a very resilient team, a team that is quickly re-energizing for this game. I think they'll be ready to go on Wednesday to practice and we look closely into accountability for our failures yesterday and our inability to do the things necessary to win the game and we're extremely disappointed about it. But there's a lot of teams going through this adversity right now in the National Football League, and the teams that have the mental toughness to put the past behind them and move forward are the teams that are going to have the best chance of success in the next week and that's what we have to work for now. That's the bottom line here is to move on and to try to use every waking minute to get better on and off the field.
HOW CONFIDENT JAY WILL PLAY AGAIN THIS SEASON?
I'm totally confident he'll play again this season. I don't have any reason based on what I've been told. It's still week-to-week. I'm confident. I think Jay is confident. You have to leave yourself an opening, but there is no underlying information here. It's week-to-week with the understanding that at some point in time on a week-to-week basis that he'll be back.
IS THERE A CHANCE LANCE PRACTICES THIS WEEK? I can't answer that, I really can't. I see him moving around. I see him running. I'll know a little bit more in the next couple days. I can't answer that. He certainly won't play this week.
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN HAVING NO GAP INTEGRITY? It's a fair question. I've watched tape from practice where we fit the run exactly against the runs we're going to see. Yesterday, I saw us fit the runs exactly the way we saw them in practice and then I saw other times that we didn't, and that's the accountability side of it. We've got to do a better job. That starts with us, but also on our players to make sure they're doing exactly what we're asking them to do. We've got some young guys, some guys working at newer positions. But that's everybody. All 11 guys have to do it. So yes there has been inconsistency in fitting the runs. They're runs that we have practiced. They show up in games. We fit them properly. It's a two-to-three-yard gain. We don't spill it or we don't fit it right, it becomes a bigger gain and we have not been able to do it on a consistent basis. We're going to continue to work at it. There's a lot of teams working in the same environment in the league. We're not going to give up on it. We're going to continue to press the issue. We're going to work harder on it this week and try to get better. We certainly have to. We know what we're up against this week.
JUST MISSED ASSIGNMENTS OR GETTING BLOCKED OUT OF GAPS? A lot of times it's more about fits than getting blocked, it really is, and that's where you get the big gains, you get the big explosive runs, and we've had too many of them. As I said, there's nothing that we haven't practiced. I think our guys know that. I think our guys have been great at accepting accountability within that framework. We've just got to continue to work at it and try to get better. We're not in any different position in this division than we were a week ago. Our guys know that. Our guys I think are excited about the challenge. They're willing to go back to work at it. We have to get better. There's no other way to say it.
WAS Jon Bostic RESPONSIBLE FOR Jared Cook LONG RECEPTION OVER MIDDLE? You can't say it was exactly Jon's responsibility. Conceptually, there's a lot more involved in that. He's just one of the guys involved. So I think I'll leave it at that. It's a combination of everybody being in the right place.
WHAT BOTHERED U MOST ABOUT DEFENSIVE SERIES AFTER BEARS CUT IT TO 27-21? We were trying to get to a point where when we kicked off that we could take a stand. We just didn't get it done. We just didn't get it done for a number of reasons and there's no one guy who's responsible. We always say if it's one, it's all and each and every guy has got to be in the right spot. We just didn't get it done. That's a combination of pass rush. That's a combination of the back end. I think that everybody takes equal accountability in to getting it done. We didn't do it.
WHY CAN'T A 245-POUND RB GAIN ONE YARD AT THE GOAL LINE? It depends how you look at it. Michael Bush was pretty effective a few weeks ago in Green Bay. He's been pretty effective running the football in four-minute for us throughout the season and won some games with his physicality and I think that started before Green Bay. Green Bay's one of them. I don't know where this is all coming from overall. I think pointing a finger at Michael, it's not just Michael, would be just like talking about Jonathan Bostic right now. It's everybody working together. There's a lot more involved. There's blocking, there's angles, there's double teams. There's a lot involved. I think when we're all working together, Michael Bush is a very physical and can be a dynamic player and if we didn't see it early in the season I think we all saw it in the Green Bay game the last four minutes. He ran over people and was very, very physical. We didn't get it done, but it wasn't just Michael who didn't get it done. We didn't get it done as an offense.
PHILOSOPHY INSIDE 10-YARD LINE? The fact of the matter is it was hard to run the football. The noise was a part of it. Could we have had (a play-) action pass? We really didn't have one up that we thought would fit the defense. We're very, very confident in our ability to run the football down there, and we think we had the right runs. We don't think we executed them the way we should, and we've got to go back and clean that up. We missed some opportunities to score. We missed an opportunity a few weeks ago to do that. Overall, I think that we went to try to improve ourselves in the red zone yesterday. I think we did. We didn't do it on one drive. We had a couple of occasions before the fourth-and-1 to score, and we didn't get it done. And we didn't execute that last play properly. We went to improve our red zone, and I think we did. We went to improve our third down, and I think we did. We did some things very well, but you're going to pinpoint those plays, and rightfully so, and on that particular play we didn't execute. And the series where we spent three minutes down there, we did execute. We had a couple of runs that didn't work. We went and threw the ball. We had a completion for a touchdown that was called back. We came back again and finally ran it in. The bottom line is we got in. We just took, in our opinion, too long to do it. We took time off the clock where we could have gotten the ball back. We really lost a possession because of the time we spent with the five penalties and then three minutes on the goal line trying to score.
FAILED 4TH-AND-1 CONVERSION A lot goes into those decisions. It's game by game. I think it's a fair question. It's just that there's multiple reasons for it. We just went 13 plays, 98 yards in the first drive of the third quarter. And it was early enough in the third quarter where I felt it was best, because of the way the game was going for multiple reasons, to take that opportunity, knowing what we would give them back was 99 yards. Knowing that if this were to happen at a different time of the game or later on in the quarter or early in the fourth, but there was just too much time remaining.
ANY CHANGES ON DEFENSE? Not at this time. We're going to talk about—we always have a personnel meeting. We talk about the players, but as of this moment, no.
HAVE YOU SEEN ANYTHING IN YOUR EXPERIENCE TO GIVE YOU HOPE FOR A DEFENSIVE TURNAROUND? It's a good question. I think every situation is different. I don't know that I've been in quite this situation that we're in here in the five years I was up north. But I will say that there's evidence that if we do it right, we can get it done. We've just got to do it on a more consistent basis. And I know that sounds like something I've said many times, but that's the fact. When we do it right, when we take it from the walkthrough to the practice where we show the guys on tape that they've done it right, then we see it, even yesterday, we see it on tape where we fit the run right, where we fit it or we spill it, and we make the play giving up reasonable yardage—2 or 3 yards—we do it right, and then we'll see it again and we don't do it right. So it's a combination of all 11 guys working together, and I'm going to see the glass half full. I don't know any other way to do it. There's still time to get it done.
ARE PENALTIES ANY INDICATION YOU'RE NOT GETTING THROUGH TO YOUR PLAYERS? No. I think it's a fair question but I want you to hear what I said. Last week was a different kind of penalty issue than this week. Last week was focus. There were five six pre-snap penalties. We had one on a kickoff. We had one or two on defense. We had one or two on offense. That's discipline, and I think we cleaned that up. When went in the dome, we didn't have any pre-snap penalties on either side of the ball. We had nobody offsides. The penalties that came up yesterday were unrelated to the same penalties a week ago. These were different. We had three kicking game penalties yesterday, two that set us back, and we lost a touchdown. I think that's different than last week, and we need to correct that. On offense, we had five penalties on one [drive] for a lot of different reasons. Some of them I haven't been able to assess because I haven't seen the TV copy yet, but we were able to overcome them, which says a lot about our football team. So we're talking about eight penalties right there. And then we had the PI with Chris down in the red zone, which is something you don't want. That was a subjective call. That was a subjective call, as well. So I think we're looking at two different kinds of penalty situation. I think we could have overcome yesterday's penalty situations a lot easier than we did last week. Last week we were able to overcome them because we won the turnover battle. It neutralized the pre-snap penalties. This week we lost the turnover battle, and we couldn't overcome the penalties that we had, and we couldn't overcome the special teams penalty of Devin Hester returning that kick for a touchdown. That was a critical one, and then, two, on kickoffs where we went back and had 98- and 90-yard drives ahead of us, which are very difficult to convert. And we almost converted both."
ANY CONSULTATION WITH STAFF, PLAYERS ON 4TH DOWN CALLS? There's discussion. But overall … And a lot of these decisions are made long before the game. I mean we have discussions about scenarios. And we know what's taken place over the last five weeks of the season with every team in the National Football League. When teams go for it, when they don't, why they did and what the results were. So it's based on feel, number one, how the game's going and then a historical perspective in what's going on around the league and what teams are doing and why. And so all of that goes into those decisions. And sometimes you hit ‘em right and sometimes you don't.
WHEN DECIDING TO GO FOR IT, DO YOU HAVE A PLAY IN MIND OR DOES THAT COME AFTER THE DECISION? That's a good question. It would go like this. If we don't make it, we're going for it on fourth down. We already know what the play is because we've had that discussion. The reasons why we're going for it have already been discussed. And the historical perspective has already been discussed. But then it's just based on feel for the game. And you go back to the fourth down calls we've had. When they work, they're always good decisions. And when they don't, they're not. And you know that this is the game of football. Everybody has one week to critique that call. That's part of it. That's the price you pay for standing on the ledge and making those decisions. But there's no regret here.
WHY BUSH, WITH SO MANY OTHER QUALITY PLAYMAKERS ON THE OFFENSE? That was the play. That was the play we had worked on. And we didn't execute it. Which is unfortunate. We didn't do it. We didn't get it done. We really didn't execute any of the plays well in that three play, four play stretch as well as we would like. We think we might have been able to get in before that. We didn't get it done. And it was a unique day. We had two screen passes go inside the 5. Matt got caught at the 1 yard line. Tony had a nice screen, got caught inside the 5. But going back to the original question, those decisions and discussions are made long before we have to do it on the field.
McCOWN IN THE POCKET Number one, our offensive line played an outstanding football game. No doubt about it. Bushrod and Mills on the edges did an excellent job of running these guys by. Josh did a very good job of climbing the pocket. He had the ball low a couple of times. But overall did a good job of climbing, redirecting, getting outside the pocket. He didn't take a lot of hits. Obviously he took a couple that were vicious. One was late. One he took on the run. But overall our protection was very good. Matt helped in that. Eben helped in that. Of course Marty as well. Martellus helped in that. So it was a really good effort facing a super fast team on the edges. And it was impressive up front. And I thought Josh did well in the pocket overall. He had his eyes up. He moved, he climbed, he kept the ball. The ball was secure. And certainly he made some throws. But the line gave him a nice dish to be able to step up and complete a throwing motion and make most of the throws that he made.
ARE BEARS WAY BEHIND RAMS IN TERMS OF TEAM SPEED? I didn't feel like it was that far off. I thought offensively certainly I think we can say we matched up very well. We handled the edges. We were able to beat man-to-man coverage when we got it. They didn't play as much man as they had played against anybody else. And that's never unexpected with our receivers. Then one of their corners went down. That limited their man to man. So I didn't feel like speed was an issue at all offensively. And I really thought our defense played fast. I did. I thought we played fast. We didn't play fundamentally as well as we needed to play. But I don't think we were over-matched in speed. Special teams they were extremely fast. And the penalties hurt us. That would've been the one side of it. Where their speed was a deciding factor. And we moved some people around because we have our young linebackers playing now, we lost a lot of their effort on special teams. But I don't think speed was an issue, out offense against their defense. And I really didn't see a whole lot of difference on or defensive side. I thought our guys showed energy to the ball, it was a frenetic pace and again it was just really the fits and being able to handle those things and being in the proper place in our zone coverages.
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.