Just finished up the tape. Didn’t look at it as detailed as I will the second time around. I’ll just give you a couple of comments on each phase of the team.
I thought special teams-wise, our cover team was better. Our tackling was better. I thought our both of our punters competed and we saw some good things there. Our snappers were good in terms of our operation times and getting those things done. And obviously we all saw it, we’re not feeling good today about our kickoff return and our punt return game right now. We’ve got to do better. I think one of the things that we can get caught up in the team aspect and what we really have to do is continue to develop a lot of these new guys who are going to be core special teams players and continue to work with them. And we will. I’m optimistic we’ll get better. We had one penalty and certainly we had the turnover there. So we got some work to do. We’re going to do that. Get these guys in practice and continue to work with them. That’s what training camp is for. That’s what the preseason is for. I’m optimistic we’ll move forward and play better. It’ll be fun to see how we do next week in Seattle.
Defensively, once again I’m encouraged by a lot of what I see. Our run defense was overall through the game, if you want to look at us as an 80-man team, we gave up 3.3 yards per carry. First half rushing, they rushed the ball 16 times for 2.4 per carry. And I thought we did some good things. They got us on a power. We had a couple of guys out of position there and over-running the play. We did that. If we were perfect we wouldn’t have to play the preseason and have training camp. So we know we can get better there. We were very good on third down. Our first group wasn’t. We were 4-of-6. Gave up 4-of-6 on third downs. We had a missed sack on a third-and-four. We had a throw over the top of our underneath coverage on third-down and long. And then we had the sack on third-down and 13, which would have gotten the defense off the field and we had the penalty. And then we had a third-and-four and they completed a short quick out. So obviously we want to do better in that regard.
But I thought there was a pass rush. I thought there were times you could see us much better at setting the edge. Our guys definitely ran to the football. And that showed up on tape as well. Some really decent play. And then as we moved out of the first group, I thought that we saw improvement. I thought Shea was better this week. I thought he improved on the defensive side of the ball. I thought Bostic played well. And I thought Sherrick McManis played well. It was good to have Tim back. I thought he had a good game. Remember Kyle was out so Tim wound up playing corner in his time there and was definitely involved in a couple of one-on-one situations which he won that battle. There was a quick screen — he made a great tackle at the line of scrimmage. So it was good to see him back playing. That was exciting to see. And I thought that the coverage was good by Ryan on the penalty. I thought the contact was prior to five yards. Subjective call. I thought the coverage was good, covering the tight end and he made a nice play in the back of the end zone, which was a penalty as well, which led to the touchdown. So it was potentially three field goals and not the touchdown with the first group.
Again, we’ve got to make those stops on third down and get off the field. And that’s what we’re working to do. We got Jared back, which was good to see him start to get some playing time. I think the first group had something like 27 plays just in the first quarter, which is good for our conditioning. We had a quick turnaround after the first drive, we were three-and-out offensively and then there was another transition play with the kick return and the penalty. So I think we’ve got some things to really build on there. We had two penalties on the touchdown drive, obviously which hurt us. Certainly we can get better. We got some opportunities this week to work and continue to grow in that regard and then we’ll have a … it’ll be fun to get out there next week in Seattle.
Offensively, first group was three-and-out. We had a chance — tough catch for Brandon on that first play of the game. Jay feathered it in there nicely. I don’t think the ball was tipped. Nevertheless we were three-and-out and we waited quite a bit of time to get back in the game. When we did we were able to go down the field and score with a couple of really good third-down conversions because of pass protections — the pass to Marty and the third-down touchdown to Brandon.
We’ve got to work on our running game. We’re not concerned about it. It’s more one guy here, one guy there. We’ve just really got to clean it up. But we’re confident that we can be better with the people that we have and the running backs that we have. We got better in the second half with our seconds. I thought our second line really did a more than sufficient job in their run blocking and their pass protection.
Jimmy was in there with the first group for one series and the rest with the second group and Jordan finished with the second group. But I thought overall pass protection was very good throughout the game and it gave the quarterbacks a chance to step and throw and make some plays. That was encouraging as well.
So I’ll leave it open to questions.
HOW BAD IS Zach Miller’S FOOT
We don’t. He’s at the doctor at this time. In the next 24-48 hours we’ll know a lot more. Same thing with Kyle. I think we’ll see where he is as we get into Sunday and Monday.
DIAGNOSIS ON MILLER
Just foot right now. There was a lot of information going on there. I’ll just leave it as foot until he’s entirely diagnosed and that will be later today and into tomorrow.
HAVE FAULTY HEADSETS BEEN AN ISSUE AT SOLDIER FIELD
I can’t speak for other stadiums. We had an issue a few times last year. But other places I’ve been there have been issues like this. So I don’t think it’s exclusive just to Soldier Field or one stadium. It’s happened over the years with the quarterback/coach communication other places as well. We had 3-5 plays yesterday.
WAS ONE OF THOSE CLAUSEN’S INTERCEPTION?
It was. Jimmy did a good job of at least getting a call up that was a sound play and it was a similar one to the one we called except the backside was not a deep over. The call wouldn’t have been a deep over. The call would have been a shallow. But coverage dictated on that play that he go back to that side, but 50 their linebacker really made a heck of a play. He just got a tip on it. If Jimmy would have checked it down he would have gotten a completion. He had a chance to make the play and again 50 made a good play, so I can’t say it was a lack of judgment to throw it to the second level there, but again the defender made the play.
WILL CLAUSEN AND PALMER BOTH PLAY VS. SEATTLE?
I don’t know that at this time. We’re going to talk about how we’re going to work this game. I expect Jay and the first group to play longer. How long I can’t say. We’re not going to put up a timetable on it. But once we decide that we’re going to decide how we’re going to work both Jordan and Jimmy, not only this week but next week as well.
MISCOMMUNICATION BETWEEN CUTLER AND WEEMS
I don’t know that you can say one play … Eric’s been a guy that has played a lot in practice for us at that position. There was a miscommunication on that particular play, but I don’t know that it’s something that’s common. It just so happened to take place on that particular play. A lot of it had to do with the type of corner coverage that they were playing. They were pressing, they were bailing, they were coming off earlier and it was just a miscommunication.
WITHOUT GAME-PLANNING, HOW DO YOU EVALUATE QBS?
Just working through progressions, making the right reads, finishing progressing, the use of the proper footwork and then if they have a chance to complete a throwing motion to be able to make an accurate throw in zone coverage or man-to-man coverage and obviously if it’s a contested throw be able to put it in a position where they keep the ball away from that man-to-man player.
HOW MUCH LACK OF GAME-PLANNING FACTOR INTO EVALUATION OF RUN GAME?
I don’t know that we factor it in. It’s not the same necessarily, but it’s no excuse. We don’t look at it as an excuse for us not being able to be productive running the football. When you look at the tape, it’s not the collective group and it never really is. It’s one miss here, one miss there. It’s a perimeter blocking issue at times. It could be anything. We’ve just got to do better and we’re going to work at it to try to be more cohesive in that area and we haven’t been in the first couple weeks. We can do better and that’s what training camp’s for and that’s what we’ve got to do over the next couple weeks. But it’s not a surprise in these games that it goes this way. It’s happened before and we’ll go back to it next week and work to get better at it.
EASIER TO CLEAN UP RUN GAME BECAUSE IT’S NOT ONE MISTAKE OVER AND OVER?
Yes. I don’t think it’s structure. It’s not having the players to get it done. It can be a six-inch step some time, or a hand placement some time, or one guy not doing his job. That’s all it takes in the running game to give a defensive player a gap to make a play.
I thought he did well. He’s really done good in the pass-catching department. He’s shown good running skills and he’s practiced well. Obviously, he’s involved in this competition, right now, as I said, I think him and Ka’Deem are in a competition for who will be the second guy or the next guy to go in, at least early on in the season, if we go that way. I think both guys show that they’re up to it. We’ve got two more games to go. They’ll get some runs, they’ll get some opportunities to pass protect. I think they both have to continue to get more included in that when we’re in our protection meetings. Most of the time, they’re not in our protection meetings, they’re in the special teams meeting. When we get back here, we get more time to do those kinds of things. Skip can get with them, spend some more time so we can bring them up to speed with the protection side of it.
I think one is, and Michael is working at it, being as consistent over the last two or three weeks as they have. That doesn’t mean Michael is out of the picture right now, we’ve still got a couple games to go, but they’ve been more consistent on a day to day basis of being in the right place and doing the right things, but it’s not that Michael’s that far behind, either.
DO YOU SCRIPT REPS FOR RUNNING BACKS?
We are and we’re not. It’s a great question, Hub. You go into it and say, you want to get a guy, six carries or seven carries, and you go into it and then what happens, universally, is the game starts becoming the most important thing as you get into the third and fourth quarter. You’re trying to call plays that you think can help you win the game, and you lose track of the individual points of emphasis to see certain players. You might go into a game and say, when this guy is playing left tackle, we want to run the ball to the left, we want to see him at the point of attack, or when this player is in there, we want to make sure he’s running the ball five times, and we always seem to get away from that because we get more in tune to scoring and moving the football and winning the game.
DO YOU LIKE OR LIKE WHERE THE OFFENSE IS AT AT THIS POINT?
I don’t think of it that way, in terms of really where we are. We go into each day and we assess what we want to work on and improve on. I think we’re in a good place. I don’t think we’re looking around trying to figure out what we are or what we’re going to be. We have high expectations. We’re still working through our offense. We’re trying to complement playing these games and getting our guys ready to play these games at the same time, taking a big picture point of view and that is, getting ready for the season. There’s that balancing act as you’re in the preseason, to what do we do today to get them ready for the game so they can perform at a high level, but then what are we doing to get ready for this season, but I think we’re in a good place.
Well we’ve seen it during practice. We’ve seen his speed in practice, we’ve seen his ability to run vertically up the field and make plays, which showed up last night and it’s showed up in practice. He’s shown good hands and good speed, besides his ability to block at his point of attack, so we’re excited about it. He’s got great experience. He’s been in good programs and he’s a good add by Phil and his personnel department.
IMPORTANT TO GET CONTE QUALITY REPS?
We want to get him in there, we certainly want to give him a chance to compete. We’ll see where he is as we come into this week. If the trainers give him the go-ahead to start working with the focus to play on Friday night, but we’ll see this week.
WHAT CAN JORDAN AND JIMMY SHOW YOU THIS WEEK IN PRACTICE?
It’s tough. They’re going at it. It’s a heck of a competition. I try not to worry about having to make a decision right now and just letting them practice, letting them work, coaching them up. Matt’s doing a great job with them. We’re just coaching all three guys to get ready for the season. All four guys to get ready for the season, because we’re working David as well, and we’ll see where he is with practice time as well. We’ve talked about it. It’s a competition and we’re not going to concern ourselves with the decision-making other than they’re running plays in practice, they’re functioning under center well, they’re functioning in the gun well, they’re moving people around, they’re making checks, they’re doing everything we’ve asked them to do, and they’re competing hard, and they’re competing in an optimal way. I think we’re seeing that. We’ll see where we go. We’ve got two more games. I’ve told them both that we’re not working under the idea that either one of them are going to be that guy, we’re just, now, we’re going to wait it out and talk through it. When the time comes, we’ll have to make a decision.
ARE YOU OPEN TO KEEPING ONLY TWO QUARTERBACKS?
We’ll see at the end. I don’t know where we’re going to go with numbers, how that fits with the rest of the football team. I think anything is possible. We’re going to leave everything open until that time and see how it sorts itself. It’s not just the two or three (quarterbacks), it’s the whole team and how we’re going to work the numbers at each and every position.
HAS Ryan Mundy SEPARATED HIMSELF AT SAFETY?
I don’t want to say that right now. He’s playing well. He’s making the calls. He has been in the right place. He’s certainly deep in this competition to be one of the top two safeties on our team. And I think he has gone out there the last two weeks and he has been out there with the ones consistently, and he has practiced well. I think he is in a good position. We’re going to wait it out and see what all happens here for the next few weeks. But I think he’s in a good place. We’ll see how the rest of the camp goes.
DID YOU CONSIDER LEAVING Tim Jennings IN SLOT AFTER FULLER GOT HURT?There wasn’t. Tim was coming back. We thought it would be a good time to get some work out there, work that he might not get when Kyle gets back. And I thought that when Tim came out, I thought that Sherrick really played well, as well, on that side.
HOW HAS TIM’S TRANSITION TO THE SLOT GONE?It was excellent when he was working there. I mean his leverage, his understanding of how to play inside was excellent through the camp and the time that he played. He was highly competitive covering our receivers inside during camp before he got hurt. So I think that transition is something that he’s going to be able to handle easily.
HOPEFUL WITH MILLER?We’re hopeful. We’ll see what happens. You guys saw him out at practice. He had an excellent camp. Things transitioned from the practice field to the games over the last couple weeks. That was clear. And we were certainly excited about what we saw, and we’ll see what happens with this injury and how long it’s going to be. We don’t know.
WHERE DID MCCLELLIN IMPROVE LAST NIGHT?
I thought he was around the ball. I think he had four tackles, five tackles. He was around the ball a little bit more. He was more active. It appeared to me—and I haven’t’ talked to Mel about this—just more comfortable at the position this week, and that’s what we would expect. I talked to Reggie after the game a week ago, and (that) was his first time playing SAM in a real game. It’s not Bourbonnais, and it’s not out here at Halas. It’s a real football game, and you could see a little more confidence, a little more reactive and natural reactions to making plays. I thought he got better, and that’s a good sign. We’ve got two more weeks, and I’m hopeful that he’ll continue to make progress.
DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES IN PASS COVERAGE DUE TO NEW PARTS?
I think it’s part of that. I think zone coverage, playing underneath zone coverage, is one of the last things that really come together in zone defenses. They also had four or five boots. Their movement game was very good, as well. And we’ve got to do some work with that, and we’re going to work on that this week. That’s the toughest part of playing coverage is the underneath portions of zone coverage usually come together last. And we’ve got some work to do in that area, and we’re going to get back at it this week.
THIRD PRESEASON GAME
I think it we look at it differently only that we’re going to play our ones a little bit longer. We’ll spend a little bit of time on Seattle, not a lot of time, because we still want to work on some other things that we would not be using until the season starts. So from that point, it is a little bit different. It’ll be probably the last time the ones get sufficient work. That’s the way we’ve normally done it. I’m not going to say that we are or not going to play some of them in Game 4. So that’s where our focus is. It’s having three good practices and then bringing it all together. And what a great opportunity for us. We’re going to play so many games on the road early in the season. We’re going to be in the noise, working the noise all week this week. And playing against a team like Seattle will be a good opportunity for us to find out a little bit more about ourselves. We’re not going to measure ourselves, where we’re going to be first game this season, but it will give us a good opportunity to match up and play some football against their ones, as well.
DO YOU WANT TO NARROW BOSTIC DOWN TO ONE POSITION?
I think it’s tough because of his flexibility. I think that he played well last night. He was excellent inside running to the football. He was physical. Obviously you saw him make that play. It was a good job setting the edge by the guys inside, I think it was Kelvin and Jared. But it was an excellent play by him making the tackle. I think that he plays middle very well, but we’ve got to be in a position if we lose somebody that he can move into either position and so we’ll continue to do that, but MIKE linebacker is certainly a place that he excels at and he needs to be able to play the nickel as well. We think he can handle it and we’re going to continue to work him in all those areas.
ARE YOU HAVING A TOUGH TIME EVALUATING THE RETURNERS BECAUSE THE ENTIRE UNIT IS STRUGGLING?
I think part of it is we just haven’t come together collectively. It could be one guy. We’ve returned some kicks just to return them. Just to get the blocking and work on it, which we might not return during the course of the season. So that plays into it a little bit as well. But we’re not where we want to be, no doubt about it. We’re not where we want to be. We got to go back to work. We’ve got to continue to develop this group of, really, new core players that we have and that will start this week.
DO YOU EXPECT ANYONE BACK THIS WEEK IN PRACTICE? Chris Williams?
I don’t have anybody that I would expect, because I don’t know. We’ll see who shows up on Monday.
PLAYING FOUR PRESEASON GAMES IS TOUGH, RIGHT?
You know, I just don’t want to get to a point where I’m standing up here speaking for whether or not we should have three or four games. I think that I look at these players and I want them to have an opportunity to play in the National Football League. That’s how I look at it. And like we said last night to the team, we got 80 guys. They’re not all going to be with us at Halas Hall, but if they can have playing time and get on tape, 31 other teams are watching everybody and if they can have more opportunity to play and have an opportunity to play in the NFL and be scouted by other teams if we don’t keep them ourselves, that’s a good thing. The merits of four games, that’s really for somebody else to discuss. I just think that if we’re going to play four games, it’s opportunity for these guys to play in the National Football League. They’re getting a look, not only by us, but by others, and that’s a good thing.
DID Brandon Marshall CLEAR HIS TV SHOW WITH YOU?
Brandon did come to me first and he told me about the situation that he had and I just told him, I said: ‘I’m not going to make that decision for you.’ I said, ‘I trust that the football team will always come first. That your energy will be in place each and every Wednesday when we go to work and you’ll do the things you need to do to be ready to play on Sunday.’ And I said, ‘I trust you.’ And that’s how I left it with him.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth 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.