IS Marquess Wilson IN LINE FOR MORE PLAYING TIME IF EARL CAN'T PLAY?
He would, Eric and Marques both would be in position to get more work if Earl doesn't get back. And he's still day-to-day, but he'd be questionable right now.
WHAT DO YOU NEED FROM THEM?
They've got to know where to line up, and they've got to know what to do, and we assume that they are capable of doing that. We'd be excited for both of them to play. They've done very, very well at practice, we can count on them and we think they'll do well and fit in. And if Earl's not with us, we're going to miss that, certainly, in the locker room and on the field. But we feel very confident in those two guys.
WHAT'S THE TEMPERATURE OF THE TEAM?
I don't see any difference in our team. The energy was great today. It was very very positive. We had a clean practice. I don't see anything different than I've seen in weeks past. I've said it each and every week: I think our guys are focused, I think they work hard. Hard work and focus and great preparation doesn't guarantee us anything, but it always gives us a chance on Sunday. I think the guys are well aware of the carrot here, you know, what's at stake, and I think in their own minds they're getting themselves ready from that vantage point. But in terms of practice and preparation, it's been a very clean week.
DO OR DIE THIS WEEKEND
Well, you know you get to these situations, and I said it the other day, we've tried to prepare our team every week to make this week our most important game. And they'll bring added value – they know what's at stake. But we're not playing the game today, we're not playing it tomorrow, they've got to find the time to build their energy and fill their gas tanks as the weekend approaches here, and as 3:25 approaches on Sunday. That would be expected, and in my experience, when you get to these moments during the season, everything gets amped up even more.
ANYONE ELSE HURT?
Outside of Earl, everybody practiced today. (full strength?) Full strength.
PRO BOWL COMES OUT TONIGHT. DOES ALSHON DESERVE IT?
You know, I can talk to you about what Alshon has done. I don't want to talk in context of those types of things. I've said it all year that what we've seen in games is what we've seen in shorts in OTAs and what we saw in training camp. You never really know, you never really know until you put the pads on and you play in these highly competitive environments. He's given our football team balance, he's given us a big-play threat, he's given us another option for our quarterback, and take some of the heat off of Brandon, and he gets that single coverage a little bit more so. All in all, No. 1 he's been a great teammate, consistent, if you've had a chance to get to know him in this time you'd see how consistent his demeanor is. He's not a flashy guy, you know when he walks off the field. But on the field, he certainly flashes.
PACKERS RUN GAME
They have two very good backs and we know that. Where we really are is where we left off last week. We've had two good weeks where we continued to ascend, and we certainly went backwards last week. Now we've made every effort these last three days to clean that up and put ourselves in position where we're fitting better and tackling better, and have a collective discipline with our football team. Again, they're backs are good backs, but we've got to be in the right place first before we can stop them.
EARL LIKELY TO PLAY?
I would just say he's really questionable right now. The fact that he hasn't practiced is evidence of where we're going to have to go in this. We just want to leave ourselves open. We don't want to close the door on it yet, but I would say that it's questionable right now at best.
HAVE YOU ANALYZED YOUR DECISION TO MAKE HESTER A RETURN SPECIALIST?
I haven't looked back at it in any event. We've had some good moments. We want more, and we're hoping to get that one this week that can really catapult us and allow us to explode a little bit. We lost the one in St. Louis, which is a shame, but maybe we're saving it for Sunday. Let's hope so.
DOES Brandon Marshall TALK TOO MUCH IN THE LOCKER ROOM?
I'm not in the locker room enough. I think Brandon, his desire to do this has just been evidenced by his work ethic and his demeanor in meetings. He's very connected to this offense and what we're trying to do. He's into it. He asks great questions. He's got the hardest job because he changes positions when new people come in the game, and he just easily transitions. I can't speak for that. You'd have to ask him that or his teammates that.
WHY ARE YOU A SUCCESSFUL PLAY CALLER?
"Good players and really good coaches. It starts with what goes on in the classroom and generally, as I said, it's more about the players than the playcaller. I really do. I think that's the best way I can say it without creating a symposium on play-calling. I just think it's really about No. 1 the players and about their coaches who work every day to get them in the right position, and then when all the comes together, you got a chance to have a successful play."
DO YOU AVOID CALLING PLAYS IN PATTERNS?
"Again, it's another good question. We look back at see what we're doing relative to personnel groupings, relative to down-and-distance tendencies, and things like that. We take stock in it from that standpoint of making sure we're not always doing the same thing, but basically, we select a play because you think it's the best play in that individual moment based on all the other factors that go into it, and you call a run or a pass."
DO YOU STICK WITH PLAYS JAY KNOWS BEST, AS AARON KROMER POINTED OUT?
"That's with any quarterback. You give him things that … it kind of transitions from play-calling. If you call a play and you expect something and they give you something different, the quarterback, because he's used to that play, will find a way to make it work. In my experience, that's what happens. That's what quarterbacks will tell you is that, ‘I'll find a way to make this work, as long as I know I can get the call out quickly, get to the line of scrimmage, make the protection calls. I'll know where everybody is and I'll find a way to make a play and make something good happen.' And that's the way we really work. We deal in concepts that they work with every week. It might be a different guy running it, but its the same play. And that's a very fair statement by Aaron."
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.