Chicago Bears HEAD COACH MARC TRESTMAN
Just kind of repeating what I said yesterday following the game, it was just a collective effort by everybody to work through the week. To handle the injury situation, which we did defensively, was certainly a plus. It was almost like playing at home. Our fans were out there. I think that the Bear fans were certainly a factor during the game. We had a lot of third-and-long situations and it made it difficult for Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense to communicate at times, which was good for us. Now we’re headed in. We’ve got certainly a lot of work to do. We had pre-snap penalties and some penalties on offense that could have hurt us. We overcame those. We’re still going to look to improve in all phases of our defense. We’ve got our protection in our field goal team. We broke down there. So we want to clean that up as well. There’s a lot of good things certainly, but as we pick our way through the tape there’s a lot of ways that I know we can continue to improve and grow as a football team and that’s what we’ll get going on Wednesday.
WHAT WAS WEEK LIKE FOR MEL AND HIS STAFF GETTING LBS PREPARED?
There was a lot of change going on and unknown going on during the week with Lance and with D.J. D.J practiced, so that was a late addition. Phil was involved in helping us move some people around and get some people up. But it was simply just hard work and their preparation. I know there was a lot of extra time spent, Reggie with the linebackers, up through Saturday and into Sunday to get them ready. Their meetings went very well, just talking to Reggie the times that they were in together at different times that were unrelated to the team being together. But just overall very very good cooperation with everybody to get it done, and the guys who weren’t playing were certainly helpful as well.
REGGIE MET WITH THEM IN THE HOTEL?
That’s correct. They meet early in the morning. They also met at the hotel and had extra meeting time there as well.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO COMPENSATE FOR LACK OF EXPERIENCE?
I think that it was simply we kept it manageable for them to know what to do and where to be and we allowed them to just play hard and fast and they played a relatively mistake-free game.
ANYTHING YOU DID WITH THIS GROUP YOU CAN APPLY TO STARTERS?
I think what we did with this group we do with our starters.
WHAT HAPPENED WITH D.J. THAT HE WAS DOWNGRADED?
I got a call from Chris [Saturday] morning and he was with D.J. and he said there was a turn here and he was unlikely play, that we would see where he was as we moved forward to Atlanta.
IF YOU PLAY SAME D YOU PLAY WITH STARTERS, WHY SO MUCH BETTER WITH NO NAMES?
I don’t know that you can say that. We only played with that guys that we had yesterday. I can’t make that comparison. Those guys didn’t play yesterday.
THEY’VE PLAYED BEFORE
This was a well-played defensive game yesterday.
WHAT LED TO SIGNING SHARPTON, HIS PAST WITH REGGIE?
That’s the part of it, that I know the best and the rest is Phil’s research and our personnel department’s collective efforts to gather the information necessary. Reggie was a part of that and his relationship with Darryl certainly helped in us knowing what Darryl could do and how he could fit into our football team and our defense.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF JAY’S GAME?
I thought that Jay had an excellent game. He played a complete game. He took care of the football, No. 1. I thought he managed the game very well. He managed the adversity we had in the game. He took some hits, was able to respond to that. We were backed up a few times. We had some long drives. I thought overall he played a very clean game.
WHAT KIND OF LIFT DID VERTICAL PASSING GAME PROVIDE?
Well, I think it helped our whole football team as I said. It's difficult to have one when the players you're practicing with aren't able to practice those types of things and we said it during the week, last week was really the first week we had everybody at full speed. Al those plays you saw out there that we went deep, we did practice, we did work on them and they all didn't have to hit but they certainly stretched the defense to enable us to balance our attack and move the football around as we did.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE TAKING SHOTS VS. MORE BALL-CONTROL ATTACK?
I think part of it was the health issue, but the other part is I think that here is a residual affect of these "shot" plays, that's why everybody does them, the percentage, completion percentages aren't going to be as high as your intermediate or short game, but they do have a residual affect overall on how the defenses play when they know you're going to stretch you out a little bit, then it helps you out with the underneath stuff or the intermediate game. It just balances out when you're attacking every area of the field, not just horizontally, sideline to sideline, but certainly vertically, and that's why you try to do it, knowing that it may be second-and-10, knowing that you could lose a down or get out of sequence, bus they do have a residual affect on the overall productivity of your passing game.
ARE SOME OF THOSE LONG THROWS ONLY JAY CAN MAKE?
Well you see quarterbacks in the league make these throws throughout the league. I think we all know that Jay's certainly one of the guys that is capable of making them, and we saw that yesterday.
I think that Willie Young is, No. 1 he came in here and he was a projected starter before we got Jared, and when Jared came in he never flinched. He really embraced the opportunity to play with Jared and learn from Jared and so his reps because of the way we're moving people around are not as much as they probably would have been when he initially got here, but he's been all about team. His energy is consistent each and every day. As you see him in the locker room he's got a smile on his face, he's alive and when he plays he plays all out and he's a charismatic guy who I think, his play and his energy resonate throughout the defensive meeting room and on the field.
I thought he played well yesterday. He got on the edge, created some disruption inside. The best part I'm seeing right now is he's stayed healthy. He's been able to play, and that's something he hasn't been able to do so we'll keep our fingers crossed that that continues because he's been a factor inside, he's been given some of the one-on-ones inside with other guys getting doubled, he's created some internal pressure which has been very good.
WHY IS HE GOOD?
Well, he does have quickness, and he does have exceptional strength as well, so when he combines that with the work that Paul and the guys have done with him, he's just doing a very good job of getting on the edge and disrupting and moving the pocket.
Well, the only thing I can say is that I can only tell you what I'm hearing from the doctors and trainers that he hurt his shoulder yesterday, it was shoulder related. He went in hard, Sharpton came in from an odd angle and that all came to pass. I just feel bad for Chris. He's worked so hard and he's had these situations that have come up that have taken him out of games but yesterday was just another aberration of things that have happened to him, but he's played and he's made some plays for us. But at the end of the day he's had to come out of the game and I'm disappointed for him.
TOUGH TO KEEP STARTING HIM WHEN HE CAN’T FINISH?
As I said, he's a starter until the doctors and trainers say that, or he feels that he's uncomfortable playing and it hasn't been the case, and we'll see where he is in the next couple days and how things proceed during the week.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE MARQUESS WILSON IN PRACTICE WITH OTHER VETERANS?
I think that we're just going to see how he looks, give him time to work back in and he'll probably do some scout team work and just get active, whatever the trainers have him do and whatever the modified practicing that he does we'll just go with that until time says that he's ready to go.
CAN YOU REALISTICALLY EXPECT HIM IN MIDSEASON FORM BY THE TIME HE COMES BACK?
I think he's going to get as much work as he can and we'll see where he's at. I can't project that. We'll see as he practices where he's at and when the time comes we'll make a decision on whether he's ready to play.
EXPECTATION IS TO HAVE HIM WEDNESDAY?
I can't say that right now. I could probably tell you more in the next couple days when I talk to Chris [Hanks]. He's still got to work out today and tomorrow and we'll see where he's at.
OPTIMISTIC ABOUT GETTING JERMON BACK?
I am optimistic. Again, he'll work out today. He probably has already. And he'll work out tomorrow. And we're hopeful that we can get him back into the mix. We'll see where he is on Wednesday at practice.
YOUR RULE OF THUMB THAT NO ONE LOSES A SPOT DUE TO INJURY
I've never said that, by the way, in my own mind. That's not my rule of thumb. My rule of thumb is, and I don't know where you're going with this so I want to tell you before you do go, is that I've always taken each and every situation on an individual basis and that's the way I've always done it standing in these shoes.
DOES EVERY PLAYER HAVE TO PROVE THEMSELVES EACH AND EVERY WEEK IN PRACTICE THEN?
I wouldn't say that. I would say each player whether he goes back into the lineup is really based on a case-by-case basis. A lot of that has to do with experience and where we are with the football team. There's a lot of things that go into that equation but there's no basic criteria or formula that I've used to make that decision.
The No. 1 thing is are they ready to play. And that's the trainers and the doctors. Then we as coaches make that decision from then on which way we'll go with the individual player.
TEAM PLAYED WELL YESTERDAY. HAVE YOU SEE SIGNS OF THAT POTENTIAL?
I've said this before, we've seen signs in the first six weeks of the season of the type of team we can be and the way we can play the game but it's a fluid league and it all starts over on Wednesday. We've got to go back to work. We've got to try to get better as a football team and do everything we can as coaches and players to get ourselves ready to play another very important game, a game in a season of 16 one-game seasons they're all games that are musts. They're all must games because of the nature of this business and the nature of this league.
JORDAN MILLS' STRUGGLES
I think the noise was part of it. Certainly we work hard in the noise. He had the pre-snap penalties. I know that nobody is more disappointed than Jordan. Those are unacceptable. I think Jordan has played very well the last year and a half. Yesterday wasn't one of his best games.
But I don't think that's a lingering thing. He's played very well this season. It just wasn't one of his best. It was in the noise, it was on the turf. I know he wants some of those plays back certainl. He didn't play as well as he's played other weeks but he certainly played well enough for us to win the game.
DEMONTRE HURST TOOK ON ELEVATED ROLE. HOW DID HE HANDLE THE UNCERTAINTY OF SUCH A ROLE?
And part of it is that we constantly reinforce to our team that whether you're a practice squad player, not one of the 46, we're here to get you ready to play and teach you your position every single day and that's where it starts because eventually you're going to have your opportunity. And yesterday was a great opportunity for him as it was for a lot of guys to prove that they could play in this league. He's a very smart player. He had a very good training camp. He was always around the football. He does it in practice, as well. He had an opportunity yesterday and he made the most of it.
YOUR APPRECIATION FOR THOSE GUYS AND THEIR WILLINGNESS TO STAY READY PRETTY HIGH?
Absolutely but that's part of, I think, the guys that are coaching them too that we do put the pressure on them to make sure that they're assignment-ready each and every week. We do spend time with them in off-hours working to get them ready. They're here, in very early, as I said many times, the coaches are down there to help them and we really are trying to stay true to one of the big changes we made last year was we were going to do everything we could to make every player that Phil brought in here game ready. I think we saw a little of that yesterday. That's not to say that will continue. We've got to go back and start over on Wednesday but that's the process that we've tried to put in place and we saw a little bit of evidence of that yesterday and we want to continue on that road. Whoever we bring in here we've got to get them ready to play.
APPRECIATE HOW WELL YOUNGSTERS PLAYED?
Collectively as a team, players and coaches have a great appreciation for how hard it is to win in the National Football League. That’s No. 1. So you want to take time to appreciate the wins because they are so difficult. No matter how you win, it’s just very, very hard to win in the National Football League, just one.
So part of the appreciation is you stand back and say, ‘How did we really get this done?’ And it reminds you of the work that goes into every week. It doesn’t guarantee you a win on Sunday but it does give you a chance. People start over every week, they go to work, whether you’ve won or lost, because of the fluid league this league is. To just go back to work and have to earn what comes to you on Sunday.
VEREEN OVER McCRAY AFTER CONTE INJURY?
I think [Vereen’s development] is part of it. We’re trying to work that rotation because Danny’s a key. He was captain of special teams so you can see the kind of influence he has on such a big part of our football team. It’s a combination of the two, to continue to get Brock involved and get better, and also to leave some of those reps for Danny to play special teams where he’s so vital to our team.
WHY CAN’T YOU SCORED TOUCHDOWNS GOING INTO HALFTIME?
We did it based on the criteria that we set up. I don’t think there’s a time where the utilization of those timeouts don’t come within the best mathematics we can use. So we feel pretty comfortable with that.
We were left with two shots with time remaining on the clock, very similar to the Green Bay game, knowing that they were going to have to sit back and play coverage, and we’re going to try to find a way in. Jay did a nice job on the second play but we felt we put ourselves in at least a position to get a score and get ourselves some points as we left the field, and we did that.
HOW DO YOU CALL PLAYS TO GET SHOTS DOWN THE FIELD?
You try to do that with personnel groupings and formations and different types of principles that attack all areas of the field. We did go deep; we probably didn’t go deep in one game as much as we have, just was more visible yesterday.
MATT FORTE ON PACE FOR 122 RECEPTIONS
I just think it’s the consistency. He’s been playing at a high level as a receiver since the day we walked in here. He’s been consistent in his ability to make plays in space and be where he’s supposed to be in the passing game. Aaron and the guys do a great job in protection so we’re at times we’re able to alleviate the protection for him so we’re able to get him out and that’s unique to how we try to help him.But I really haven’t seen any ascending. It’s just been very consistent week in and week out. We always hold our breath because you never know when that’ll change.
EXTRA POINT SCREW UP?
It was an internal thing, just a physical breakdown internally but it’s something we’ve got to work on to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
DO YOU NORMALLY CALL INSIDE RUNS FROM THE 9?
You’re trying to do what’s best for your team at the time. You can run the ball; the chances of scoring aren’t high, but it’s possible, we’ve seen it done. You get a quick-hitter like that, you’re able to get into the secondary but it was going to be difficult to throw the ball into the end zone. That’s why our offensive line was blocking linebacker on the goal line, because they were playing pass all the way.
But we gave Jay the option to go to a pass if they gave us a front, a coverage that we could get to take a shot in the end zone. We needed to leave the field with three points so that was big at the time.
IS JAY AMBIDEXTROUS?
We sat there with 10 seconds left, reminding ourselves that we had 9 against Green Bay and we knew we had to either throw it away, but we wanted to take the shot. We knew we were going to need the points so we wanted a chance to do it and Jay was creative enough to not only throw it away but he didn’t throw it in a place where anybody could catch it.
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.