Really today just on to Philadelphia. Normal Wednesday practice inside. We did cut it a little bit shorter. The guys are still sore from the game on Sunday, so we cut a few reps out of practice and added a little time to meetings, get to know the Eagles. And move forward.
Lance practiced limited today. He did practice with the first group, but practiced in a limited fashion. We held Brandon out today. He's a little sore in his quad, him hamstring. He'll be fine. I just wanted [to be] precautionary. I expect him to get some work tomorrow and that's really it.
WILL YOU COUNT BRIGGS' SNAPS?
I couldn't go there right now. We'll see where he is. It's still day to day. Like I said to you the other day, I'm optimistic he'll play. How much? We'll see how he feels. I'll be able to better answer that question after Friday's practice and it may even go into Sunday. He did get some work today and I did talk him afterwards and he said he felt pretty good, so we'll see where he is tomorrow.
DOES BRIGGS' RETURN CHANGE DEFENSIVE PLAY CALLING?
It certainly could. Again, Plan A is that we're not sure. We're optimistic. So James will be ready to do that. Of course, Lance would be ready to do it as well. And we'll get more into that as we move into the weak.
BRIGGS' CONDITIONING VS. EAGLES' UP-TEMPO OFFENSE?
Certainly, he hasn't played football in a long time. Lance is a unique athlete. It would certainly be exciting to see him out on the field. And how much? Who knows. But it certainly would be good for our football to have him out there and have him playing and if he, we'll see where he is at that point. I haven't talked to any trainers about it. I haven't talked to the doctors about it. We'll do what's best for him to make sure that we keep him safe out there. And we'll go from there.
HAVE YOU TALKED WITH Chip Kelly?
We have not, other than at the owners meetings to say hello.
WHAT MAKES THE EAGLES FLY?
Normally I start looking at their offense tonight and I spend a little time with Mel. Certainly, their tempo is an issue in terms of play-calling. It's tough to put that into practice in practice because we really don't have the availability to do that because we're working off cards to run their plays. There is a format to how we're preparing for their tempo, which is unique, no doubt about it. Nobody else is really doing it to that level, but I can't answer it anymore in detail right now.
SUBSTITUTIONS AGAINST EAGLES UP-TEMPO OFFENSE
We think we can get it done. Again, when they don't change personnel, they can keep their tempo up. When they change personnel, they have to slow it down because they have to wait for teams to match up. So, the only value to up-tempo is to keep personnel on the field. Otherwise, the referees are going to hold the ball until you substitute.
PLAYER'S ENERGY NOW THAT THEY'RE IN FIRST PLACE?
I've said it: You wouldn't know whether we won or lost. It's been the same each and every day we've come back. The guys came to work. I made sure that we didn't overexert ourselves with a lot of running today in practice. They're still sore, as I said. It's later in the year. We want to make sure guys are fresh. We practiced hard today and we practiced fast, but I blew the whistle quickly, so we didn't extend the running like we normally would early in the season or in training camp. But their energy was good and their focus was very good.
YOU'VE DONE WELL IN PRIME-TIME GAMES THIS YEAR
As I told the guys today, we've done well, but there's no guarantee we will do well. But to remind themselves what they did to prepare for these games, and that's investing in each and every day. That's how they got ready to play prime time is they invested in the day. We're not practicing as long, so you've got to invest in other ways to maintain your edge to come out and play on Sunday night. You can use prime time to build on, and we have because we have played well, but on the other side of it, the reason to remind the guys about it is to remind them how hard they worked on a daily basis to get themselves ready to play and build their edge for the game.
DEFENSE SHOWED IMPROVEMENT LAST WEEK
There was. We tackled better last week. We minimized explosive plays last week. There were some, but they were still minimal, compared. Again, we tackled better. I think collectively we tackled better. Our fits were better. Our edges were better. Don't get me wrong; it's not where we want to be but it did improve. And our younger guys played sufficiently. They got better as well, particularly our two young linebackers. They played well.
It's good that we're ascending. Certainly we've got to play better this week. We're playing against a very explosive football team that stretches the field both horizontally and vertically, in the running game as well as the passing game. This is really going to test our defense this week, no doubt about it.
FEEL DIFFERENT TO BE IN CONTROL OF YOUR OWN DESTINY?
"It doesn't feel any different than it felt three weeks ago or four weeks ago, because we don't approach it like that. Each and every week we come in and talk to our team about this being the most important game. It's the only one we get a chance to play, the only game we get to celebrate, so that's how we're approaching it. "Because we've treated every game as the most important game, the next one becomes the most important game. Hopefully we've built some toughness and some resiliency to be able to play at the level we need to play."
"He's certainly special. He's such an explosive player; he can do it all. But we face good backs each and every week. He's certainly one of the best in the league. He's a difference-maker. We're going to have to know where he is and we're going to have to do whatever we can to neutralize him. Last week we went in and it was Josh Gordon, their tight end, we had to neutralize them. You go in and every week you say, ‘who do we have to neutralize this week?' Make sure we minimize their ability to make a difference and then you work from there. He's certainly the starting point."
PRACTICING CHRISTMAS DAY?
"Right now we're scheduled on Christmas Day to come in with the players around 11 o'clock. I don't know what our practice schedule is but we will practice. We've got Monday and Tuesday off and we will do something on Wednesday. How much I don't know. The question's a good one. We are coming off a Sunday night and where our players are, because we have gone days like this where we might only practice two days to give them another day of rest. But we will have them back at 11 o'clock on Wednesday."
ANY SWELLING FOR CUTLER?
"He's completely cleared. Was last week. But there was no residual in his ankle, no swelling, nothing there at all. He got hit a couple times in the game, he got cleated, but he didn't turn an ankle or anything. The hit he took on the touchdown pass was a pretty significant hit but he came out of it very well."
ON PHILLY'S UP-TEMPO OFFENSE…
It's certainly proven that it can be very successful after 15 weeks. I mean, they've been exceptional. It's a credit to Chip Kelly and his staff to do it in his first year, and not just do it, but do it at a high level. Really says a lot about Chip and his coaches and his players to be able to get it done. They've got a great group of players there. They've done a terrific job of coaching the quarterback in a new system. That's not easy to do and so my hats off to him for what he's accomplished over 15, 16 weeks in the National Football League, that's not easy.
WILL YOU APPROACH SUNDAY NIGHT'S GAME DIFFERENTLY IF NFC NORTH COMES DOWN TO WEEK 17 NO MATTER WHAT?
I don't know. I really don't know. I haven't spent any time thinking about it. What I'm focused on right now is getting our team ready to be at our best and play three hours of really great football. So my answer to that question is I can't answer the question. There may be a time I can, but right now the focus is not going to be distracted by anything other than, we've got a really important game to play, it's the most important game of the season. It's the only one we have and we're trying to get our team ready to play.
HOW DID AN OFFENSIVE LINE WITH FOUR NEW STARTERS GET SO GOOD SO QUICKLY?
I think the biggest thing is that they've stayed healthy and they've been able to play together. That's the biggest thing in growing lines. I've seen lines with all different talent levels come together because they've played together. That's the No. 1 thing. I don't know if that answers your question, but we've got five guys there. You've got to include Eben in our offensive line, you've got to include Marty in our offensive line, you've got to include Matt in our offensive line, because they're all involved in the chemistry and the formula of pass protection and the run game, and that goes with the perimeter. But I think, inclusive of the line is there's so much communication involved and there's so much body language involved and knowing where people are and what they're going to do, keeping them together and the fact that they're healthy has really helped us get better quickly.
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.