Hello everybody. Focus today was a lot on third down. We recognize defensively that we got to improve on it from last week and the last few weeks. We have a lot of room to work there putting it all together. Offensively, we had 3rd-and-11-plus four times last week, which really inhibited our ability to convert. Certainly want to do a better job there staying in sequence. Special situation football continues tomorrow with the red zone and short yardage and goal line stuff.
IN MAXIMIZING YOUR ABILITY TO DEVELOP DEPTH, WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN?
I think it’s a common statement around the building that everybody who’s in this building is being trained to play in the games. There’s a lot of teaching that’s going on here during different hours of the day, not just during the regular hours in terms of getting guys ready to play and putting ourselves in a position that if we do lose a player that other guys are in position where they’re system-ready and they know enough to go in there and do the job. We’ve seen some of that, certainly, over the last couple weeks. As we’ve said, last year I think that, and I think that I said this, I didn’t feel that we – and I didn’t do a good enough job working through our practices and developing our players to where if they had to get in the game that they would be better than they were. I think Mel and Aaron and our coaching staff, Joe – particularly these last few weeks, Joe – we spend a lot of time with these guys. We’ve got good, talented young players on our team. They’ve got to be developed within the system and understand the discipline that’s involved and how to keep their poise in chaos. We saw last week, we saw a little bit of that where we lost our poise a little bit a couple of times that cost us, so all that’s going on throughout the course of the day.
BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN MARTELLUS BENNETT THIS YEAR
The biggest thing is how he’s working together with Jay. Last year, they didn’t get much chance to work in the offseason, as much as they did this year. Marty working with Andy, I think Andy’s been a big factor in Marty’s growth as a football player. Fundamentals and techniques, understanding of the game. Marty loves structure, Andy is perfect for that in terms of every day he’s got a couple of page detailed out tip sheet, Marty appreciates that. They spend a lot of time together in the meeting room. And just communicating with Jay and more definition in his route running, better fundamentals in the run game, working with Aaron, Pat and Andy in the run game. As you’ve seen from Marty, he’s a very bright guy. He wants to learn and get better. I think we’re seeing increments of that on a weekly basis.
HIS ROLE ON OFFENSE
As Jay and Marty have gotten to know each other, certainly more comfort there. Even last year, we always tried to move the targets around with our play-calling. We do it in practice. We have a six-play period, we’re not just locked into Brandon being the primary, Alshon being the primary. We really try to move targets around, make sure everybody has a sense that they’re equally involved in what we’re trying to do.
SINCE CUTLER’S SECOND INTERCEPTION IN THE OPENER, HE’S BEEN GREAT. WHY?
I think we talked about that a couple weeks ago when it happened and how he went about taking accountability for it and so on. I just think that Jay continues to grow in this system. Ball security is an absolute priority. It is with every football team. You protect the football and you’re going to be in very game in the fourth quarter. Every game. It won’t matter what the situations are. If you’re ball security conscious, you’ve got a chance to win games. So that’s number one. And we try to do that with emphasis on our protection meetings, number one. Because we have to protect him so that he can protect the ball. And I think Mat (Cavanaugh) has done a terrific job of continuing to make that a point of emphasis each and every day during our individual periods and during practice.
JAY’S ABILITY TO HANDLE MYRIAD PRESSURES VS. JETS
We’ve seen it before. It wasn’t new. Jay has been completely poised in most situations throughout the time that I’ve been with him. We saw it when he came back from injury in the Cleveland game, then the Green Bay game last year he played very well. And during the course of the season. Like I said, there was a miscue the first game. But he’s continued to work very hard during the week to prepare himself. He is on top of the game plans. There’s a lot of verbiage in our game plans. He knows it better than anybody in the building. And so once we get started during the week, he’s locked into protection, which we spend an exorbitant amount of time. I think he’s very comfortable when he goes into games.
Dom Capers VS. CUTLER
I don’t want to go into that from a competitive standpoint. I can tell you that everybody in our room, coaches and players like, respect Dom Capers and know he understand the game extremely well. He’s played against Jay a number of times. He has a sense for him. We played against him twice in this system with the coaches that we have here. And we’re challenged by him. It’s always challenging to play against him. The things he brings, not only front structure, which sometimes things appear to be simpler than they are. They’re very well coached. And back end, same thing. They’re very good in their man to man techniques. They’re very sound in zone. So we have a lot of respect for that.
ARE INJURIES UP FRONT HURTING RUN GAME?
Everybody’s going to have an opinion on that. We’ve had two very difficult weeks against two extremely strong fronts. That doesn’t mean we’re making excuses for it. We recognize we have to do better. We had a reasonable start in game 1. We’ve been bogged down the last couple of weeks. And we’re cognizant of that and we’re making it a point of emphasis. But I think we’ve got to work through the next few games and try to get a sense for where we really are with things. But I can tell you that we’re working at it. And the fact of the matter is that we have Brian de la Puente has played a lot of football. Mike Ola hasn’t. But I don’t think that having two new guys in there has taken away from our ability to run the football. I think it runs a lot deeper than that. The good part of it is that while we haven’t been able to run the football as effectively as we wanted, but at the end of the game last week, we were able to run it enough to be able to use some clock and finish the game.
HOW DOES DANTE ROSARIO’S ROLE CHANGE WITH TONY FIAMMETTA GONE?
Dante is certainly part of our two-tight-end package. And without Tony, and when we move out of three wide receivers and into more regular personnel sets, which isn’t always the case with Dante, teams treat him as a wide receiver at times and we’re going to see nickel at times. Dom does that, so we have to be ready for that, as well. He has the flexibility to go in the backfield, do some of the things that Tony can do, and we’ll utilize him in those areas and be a lead back in some cases. But for the most part, he’s our move tight end, and we have to be able to function in our offense with him in it and another wide receiver out. I think we move fluidly into those personnel groupings without any trouble.
BRANDON MARSHALL’S ANKLE
It’s day to day. He’s rehabbing, and we’ll see where he is tomorrow.
DID HE PRACTICE?
He did not practice today.
You know what? We’re just hoping that he’ll be back tomorrow. It really is day to day and I’m hopeful he’ll be back tomorrow.
HE’S OUT OF THE BUILDING?
He’s out of the building today. We let him stay home, and he was seeing the doctor during practice.
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE BENNETT DOESN’T REGRESS?
We’re just going to do what we do every day. I don’t know that because he wasn’t in the past means that he can’t continue to grow and improve and ascend. We’re just working at it one day at a time. We’re not putting any priority on the fact that, or assuming the fact that it’s not going to continue to be on the upside. We’re just working every day to try to—and he is, primarily, to just try to be a better football player every day he works. If you had a chance to see an entire practice, he’s as hard a working player as we have on the team in terms of his play-by-play practice effort.
JIMMY CLAUSEN NOW COMPARED TO HIS COLLEGE WORKOUT
That’s a good question. I don’t know if I can answer it with any kind of content. When I worked with Jimmy out in California, he had a foot brace on. He wasn’t able to work out, so I just spent time with him on the board, kind of the academic side of the game. And then I was able to see his workout, and I thought he had a very good workout. He threw 55 passes. I think he completed 53 of 55. You know they’re orchestrated, but Golden Tate was there. It was pretty good to have him there, and some of his guys were there. And he had a very good workout. That’s what I saw. And then I saw a guy who was in Carolina and struggled amidst—it was very chaotic there at the time. He was taking a lot of sacks, a lot of hits. The thing that has resonated most with me is he’s come back from a shoulder and a foot. His toughness was never a question, and the reputation he left at Carolina was a very positive one in terms of his leadership role. When things were not going well, he went to work every day and stood tall and led his football team, and that’s something that resonated out of Carolina once he left.
He has just been in the building. He has been in meetings. He did not practice today, so he still hasn’t been OK’d protocol-wise. We’ll see where things are tomorrow.
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.