Well, I'll just start where I left off last night. There's no sugar-coating on this one. And nothing's changed. I had a chance to look at offense and defense this morning and nothing's changed in terms of what I said yesterday. It was a poor performance in both phases. You've already talked to Joe and I'll reiterated a couple of things that he said. But defensively it was a poor performance. We missed a lot of tackles. We weren't efficient in the red zone. We weren't efficient on third down. We couldn't get off the field. Couldn't contain the quarterback. Our screen fits weren't good. What you saw is what we saw at the stadium, and on the tape.
Offensively we couldn't get started in our first three possessions. We only had one first down. We had some individual breakdowns. Our fourth possession we started moving the ball. Got two sacks. Got out of field-goal range. Five sacks overall — the most we've been hit probably all year. We were only sufficient on third down, 5-of-14 — not good enough. It wasn't good. We could never get started. Down 21-0, could never get anything going. Could never get anything going in the run game. We would hit at the line of scrimmage, and missed block — one here, one there, guys took turns making mistakes. So nothing's changed there. Probably the only good part of the game was our coverage teams, covered with a sense of urgency and did a good job. Other than that — and Robbie's field goal, 50 yards — there's not many positives out there.
As I said yesterday, I thought the guys prepared very well. I thought they were ready to play — certainly emotionally and based on practice, I thought they were, but we didn't play like we were ready to play. We didn't do it in any phase of our football overall.
With that in mind, we're going to put it behind us today and move forward. We've got a tremendous opportunity on Sunday. As I said to the players during the week and I said yesterday — if we walked into here in the locker room in April in the first OTA and said we'd be playing for the NFC North on the last day of the season, we would have taken it. Now we've got that opportunity. We've got to have good amnesia. We've got to come in here on Wednesday and do the things we have to do to get ready for the Packers and that's what we'll do.
IS THAT A CONCERN, THAT YOU WERE SO WELL PREPARED AND STILL LAID AN EGG LIKE THAT?
The only thing I could do is look at Philadelphia. Philadelphia went into Minnesota last week and Minnesota put up 48 points. I think that they're the best example of a team that could put it behind them and move forward and play well. We had moments over the last few weeks where we thought we played very well and we didn't do that yesterday. In my experience, teams do have these kinds of games during the course of the season. We saw it yesterday in the league — there were two or three teams that hit that stride where they just missed, they just didn't have it. We didn't have it yesterday. Is there concern? No. But it's gotten our attention. We've got to get back to work and do the things we need to do to win a game on Sunday.
KEY TO REBOUNDING FROM BAD LOSS?
No. 1 is we've got to put it behind us and not get caught up in it. It's certainly disappointing because of the opportunity that we had. I think the guys will have that chance to get away from it, get some rest and have some time to re-focus. We've been able to do that. That's the encouraging thing. We've had periodic weeks where we've had some tremendous adversity in terms of losing football games, and have been able to come back and step up and play. So our history says that we can get this thing done, and that's a good sign.
CUTLER NOT SO GOOD AGAINST PACKERS
I don't have any experience with that, so it would be really hard for me to comment on that. I don't know that there's trends or historical perspective on it. That'd be a difficult question for me to answer.
SCHOOLYARD BALL FOR HIM LAST NIGHT, THOUGH?
It really was. The first three series, we didn't get anything going. And then it was really, it was very difficult — difficult to call plays. They came out of their game plan defensively and played coverages that we really wouldn't have expected under the normal course of the game. That forced them to move around and make some plays and I think he had it exactly right.
WATCH A LOT OF THE PHILLY TAPE THIS WEEK?
The only thing we're going to do with our players is make sure there's corrections that we can make, but we can make those within the framework of the Green Bay game plan, and that's what we'll do.
COME OUT HEALTHY?
We did. That's a great thing at this point, that we came out clean.
HOW WAS BRIGGS?
I thought he played very hard and played well; in spurts, really played well. I thought he got a lot out of it. We got a lot out of him in this game.
TALK TO JAY LAST NIGHT? MESSAGE TO HIM?
The message to Jay was exactly what Jay's message was when he talked to the media: games go like this. It got out of hand. I think once again he played very courageously, played hard. He took more hits in this game than any of our quarterbacks have all year. He got back up and he kept playing. Everybody had a hand in this one. Every player and certainly every coach. And that starts with me.
ANY CONSIDERATION TO CHANGING THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK GIVEN THE LOPSIDED LOSS?
No, I think that at this stage in the season, the Christmas holiday probably wouldn't have changed the way we schedule this at all. It's almost like a Monday game. We got in very late. The guys expended themselves. It's week 17. Our plan was to work this way regardless. We're going to take them through a practice mode when the best thing for them to do is recover. We can get a lot done. We've shown that we can with two days of work. If that's the question you're asking, we'll stay with the same schedule we have.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE STICKING TO AN EVEN-KEELED ATMOSPHERE WITH THE MOTIVITATOIN FOR WINNING THE DIVISION?
Well we've treated every game as the most important game of the season, and that's to prepare in a certain manner, a certain fashion. This is the most important game of the season. As I said, I've got to be the voice of reason. I've got to see the big picture. Every coach handles themselves differently in these situations, and there's no right way to do it for coaches because they all handle them differently. This is the way we've done it, trying to maintain some practicality works in this case. It's may be not the best for others, but it works here that we've approached every game the same way we're approaching this one, and hopefully that will help us with this one.
GAP INTEGRITY ON DEFENSE?
It wasn't good. It was spread out over the whole group. After two weeks of moving forward, we certainly took a step backwards.
STILL STRUGGLING WITH ZONE READ?
It's not the same, it is different, there were individual mistakes in gap responsibilities in this game that we didn't get done. They didn't run a lot of plays. They probably only ran about 10 plays, different kinds of plays, during the course of the game, and very few different runs, and we did not handle it very well. One guy here, one guy there. After two weeks of moving forward, we did take a step backwards.
HOW DID THEY GET TO JAY SO MUCH?
There would be an individual breakdown. The coverages changed a lot, forced us to move a little bit more in the pocket, have to hold the ball a little big longer. They brought some guys in the A-gaps. It was varied, quite frankly. Individual gets beat, structure was good, but it wasn't what it's been. It's a good question, I went through the tape fast, and I can't answer it any more specifically than that.
We know we're going to get Green Bay's best shot. We've got to, right now, be focused on us. We know their quarterbacks, they have good quarterbacks, certainly a great one in Aaron Rodgers, but I think the most important thing that we can do is stay focused on what we can do. Green Bay's offense isn't going to change whoever's playing. They've got a good one playing now that's played very well, Matt. We've got to be ready for that. Certainly, that's not going to affect the structure of what Green Bay's doing, so we've got to get ready to defend Green Bay.
WHEN TEAMS RUN ALL OVER YOUR D, HOW DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR OFFENSE?
You asked the same question last week, you were actually sitting right there when you asked it. I said it last week, I don't really have a change in that. When you're down 21-0, you start searching for the right plays and trying to take shots and you get away from the run game a little bit. You have a sense that it's getting away from you, and you always look back and you say to yourself, ‘well, if I would have ran a couple more runs, would I have been able to slow them down a little bit and stay on the field?' You're looking for your playmakers to try and make a play, and we got close a couple times. We went to Alshon, he broke loose, he tripped. We went to the corner to Brandon, and you look at the tape and you stop the tape right where the ball as thrown, and the tip of the ball is on the tip of Brandon's fingers, it was 6-8 inches away from being a touchdown. It does change the way you call plays when things like that happen and a game just starts to unfold a little bit so early.
ANY THOUGHT TO PULLING JAY EARLY LAST NIGHT TO PRESERVE HIS HEALTH?
We talked about it, and we thought we'd go one more series and see where we are. We wanted to give him a chance to get some work in.
WORK IS STILL IMPORTANT FOR JAY?
Yeah, that was part of it just to get another series and give the guys a chance to at least take one more shot at it, and we didn't get it done. At that point in time, we started taking guys out just for that reason, to make sure nothing unusual would happen in the rest of the game knowing what we had coming up on Sunday.
WILL THIS WEEK DETERMINE SUCCESS OR FAILURE OF YOUR FIRST YEAR IN CHICAGO?
I wouldn't even begin to think about that right now. To me, success is what you do on that day and the work you put into it on a day-by-day basis. That's how I evaluate it. When we get done with the season, we'll look back and we'll assess it. But we weren't successful on Sunday. What we need to do is be successful today. And that's how I look at success and failure, is what we do in the present.
EXPLAIN GAP RESPONSIBILITIES AS THEY HAPPEN IN A GAME
Well I think once the play is run, then everybody's keys go into place because we don't know what's going to be called. So everything is based on first step, where hats are going, guards are pulling, what the quarterback is doing. Those fits are determined by what they see.
HOW MANY GAP CHOICES DO THEY HAVE? JUST LEFT AND RIGHT?
It's based on the plays that we have. Everything is predicated on movement and alignments and formation. Those change all the time, and you try to defensively simplify to a point where it's minimal based on what you see.
CUTLER APPEARED UPSET WITH ALSHON A FEW TIMES. HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE ALSHON KNOWS WHERE TO LINE UP?
I'd have to ask them that. I mean, Alshon is a guy who seldom if ever has a mental error in a game. The clock was fast last night. They were turning it over as fast as I've seen. I haven't talked to Jay or the guys about the communication side of it because we were moving some people around. So I really can't answer that directly right now, but it doesn't happen very often, and it certainly doesn't happen to Alshon very much.
ARE YOU STILL SEEING PROGRESS ON DEFENSE?
I think at the end of the day, and I said this throughout the last two weeks, we did see some work moving forward. And the guys took a step backward. The only way I can evaluate it is presently. Two weeks of getting a little better at what we were doing—not where we want to be—and a week where we took a step back.
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.