I’ll just get started with where I finished last night. We finished yesterday as not a very good football team. We had another slow start. That slow start started with taking the ball too deep out of the end zone and some penalties, which backed our offense up. I was asked yesterday about the runs. As I look back, the first five plays there were four runs called. If you look at the tape you’ll see that on the second and third play Jay pulled the ball. We had a run called and we threw outside to Josh Morgan on one and we threw to Alshon on another, both for first downs. Those were both called runs that had the option to pull the ball. So the first four of five were there.
You know what happened … our series got stalled. We had a penalty and then on the second play of the next drive we had an interception. The third drive we had an eight-play drive and finished with penalties again. We had a penalty on third-and-seven I believe which took us into a third-and-long and we couldn’t overcome that, and by that time the score was what it was. So slow start again. We’ve seen ourselves when we don’t have slow starts and we’ve had a litany of them over the last three weeks and certainly that’s unacceptable.
On the defensive side of the ball, they were the big plays on second-and-long and third-and-long. We had a coverage breakdown on the one long play to Jordy and the other Aaron did a great job of extending the play and we got caught in cover two in an outside lane and he made a throw on the outside lane. The play was a tremendous play. And then the screen play, just looking at that, I haven’t had a chance to completely talk to the staff because obviously we got in a little later this morning … We didn’t leverage the play properly. We had poor pursuit angles on the play and resulted in a very disappointing screen for a touchdown with a lot of work spent in that regard.
I think I’ll just close and I’ll leave it open to questions by saying I think the thing we’ve got to do to find our way out of it is we’ve got to go back to San Francisco and we’ve got to look at those tapes, and New York, and Atlanta and show ourselves and look at the things that we did very., very well to play a highly-competitive four-quarter game, and over the last three weeks we certainly haven’t done that. We have to be honest with ourselves. We cannot sugarcoat this whatsoever, that this is where we are and our entire focus now has to go onto Minnesota.
YOUR INTERACTION WITH MANAGEMENT SINCE LAST NIGHT
I’ve had a conversation as I do every morning with Chris Hanks and with Phil.
ANY COACHING STAFF CHANGES?
There will not be any at this time.
ANY THOUGHT TO BENCHING JAY FOR A WEEK?
I think the biggest thing is that Jay has got to play better. He didn’t play well enough yesterday and we didn’t play well enough and I’m certain that he’d take accountability for that. But it’s very clear he did play well enough yesterday. We can’t sugarcoat that. At the same time we didn’t play collectively well enough as a team.
ARE DISAPPOINTING PERFORMANCES ADDING UP TO WHERE YOU MIGHT MAKE A CHANGE AT QB?
I think that we’ve got to go back and get ready for Minnesota and with that in mind Jay’s got to play better. He’s got to play better, but he can’t do it alone. But he’s got to play better just like the rest of us do.
WHAT HAS TO CHANGE TO CHANGE THE RESULTS?
That’s really what we’re going to have to go back and see. We’ve got to really take and put the San Francisco game on, the Jet game on and see why we were able to play four quarters against Atlanta in competitive football games. And we haven’t done it the last few weeks. Certainly, we came up against two very great quarterbacks. But that doesn’t have anything to do with anything we’re doing offensively. But that’s where we’re going to start. If we have to get a plan together to move forward, it’s got to look at what we did when we were doing it well and why that was working and this is not (now).
IS JAY MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES IN PRACTICE HE MAKES IN THE GAMES?
They’re not showing up. And that’s, as I’ve said, that’s what has been the most disturbing thing. Is that those things are not showing up in practice. They certainly didn’t last week. I think anybody on this team who watched practice would tell you that.
SO WHY THE DISCONNECT IN CARRYING IT OVER?
I think it’s focusing and just getting back into recognizing that this is where we’ve been deficient and continue to work our way out of this slump that we’re in. Because we’re certainly in one.
WHY ARE CHECKS FROM RUN TO PASS BUILT INTO THE OFFENSE?
We just had a couple of them in this week and they did work. We just used them early. They did work. As I’ve said. We kicked one out to Josh on that quick bullet slant that you saw early in the game. And we kicked one outside to Alshon. We didn’t use many during the game. Most of the runs in the game were called runs. And we didn’t have the positive gains. We were left with the chains, not getting ahead of the chains with some of the runs as well. That really hurt us. Because they were up in there tight. They were really pressuring us throughout the game and trying to take our running game away.
WHY GO DEEP TO JOSH MORGAN IN SECOND SERIES?
That was disappointing. Because we had to get Alshon in motion. And he was part of the read. And he didn’t get down in motion. I haven’t had a chance to talk to the guys about what happened there. But Alshon should have been a low player. Brandon was over the top. And Josh was the clearing player. And it was more or less a throwaway as much as anything. Because we didn’t have the stretch without Alshon in the game.
DID YOU CONSIDER BENCHING CUTLER AT HALFTIME?
I think it’s all on an individual basis, John. We haven’t had a chance to look at the game with Jay and get his feedback on it. Certainly we know that Jay’s not comfortable with the way he played yesterday. No doubt about it. And I think it’s on an individual basis. I think that we all have to do better. And I say that. I know it starts with the quarterback. It always does. But there are a lot of things that have to get done before something like that would be a consideration.
DID YOU THINK ABOUT IT AT HALF?
Not at halftime. No.
As I’ve said before this, I think this team and this locker room is in a good place at this time. And we’re in a position where we have to work our way out of this. And I think the team is focused on doing this.
DO YOU MAKE IT A POINT TO TUNE OUT THE NEGATIVE CHATTER?
We know Our fans are disappointed. They have a right to be. This has been a very disturbing stretch of three weeks, there's no doubt about it. We're here focused and the only way we can work our way out of this is to go get ready for Minnesota, and to put it behind us, but we've got to do it with some sense of urgency, which we will, and with a plan. I think the plan begins as showing these guys what it takes to play four quarters and reminding them that they've been able to do that and they get started on Sunday with Minnesota.
WHY STICK WITH MEL TUCKER?
I watch him work every day. I watch him communicate with these players. I watch him work on the field with these players. To me he's doing everything he can under the circumstances to coach, to teach and to lead that side of the ball, and he's got a very good staff with him. They're great teachers, they're veteran coaches who have been in a lot of situations, as Mel has. He's been through these types of things, and I feel very confident that he's doing the things that he can do to help us go forward.
UNDERSTAND WHY FANS ARE PISSED AND UNSATISFIED WITH THINGS STAYING STATUS QUO?
I can understand that our fan base is extremely upset at the circumstances that our football team is in right now. I totally understand that. I understand that they're passionate about this football team and they want to see us move forward and get better. They don't want to see us in this state. I can tell you that the people who are coaching this team are doing everything they can to get better and they have the experience to work their way out of it.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP TURN THIS AROUND?
I think the most important thing I can do is lead the way with the demeanor that shows the confidence that we can get this done, and I think we can. I've seen this happen before, I've been down this road before. This has been a very, very disturbing couple of weeks, no doubt about it, but I've seen teams and coaches work their way out of this and it's not the first time for some of us. WE have to show our players that the way to get this done is to move forward and go on to the next game and try to utilize every ounce of experience we have and mental toughness we have to get it done.
ARE YOU CONCERNED JAY DOESN’T HAVE THE SUPPORT OF HIS TEAMMATES?
I'm not concerned about that.
THREE TIMES, GOING BACK TO LAST YEAR'S PACKERS GAME, THE DEFENSE HAS MISSED CALLS ON THE FIELD. WHY?
I think that with any team, throughout the league, there's going to be coverage breakdowns. We have three that have been ... I remember two, but three as you say, that have been significant and memorable. That's disappointing, but there are a lot that are properly called, and most of them are, and we're in the right coverage in most cases if not all. ON those particular instances we weren't.
WILL YOU TAKE A HARD LOOK AT THE DEPTH CHART?
We're going to talk, we're certainly going to talk personnel as I said. The guys are getting in late, they're still looking at the tape. I haven't had a chance to even engage them because things have moved so quickly this morning, but we will, we certainly have to. We're going to look at everything as a starting point moving into Wednesday.
DID YOU SEE ANY LOAFING?
I did not. I think that our pursuit angles weren't good at times, our leverage angles weren't good, but I think the effort level overall is never going to be good enough. The standards never going to be high enough here. There's always going to be minuses as we move through it because we do have a high standard for the relentless play that we want to get out of our players. I'm sure there were minuses along the way but overall I didn't see that.
WHEN PLAYERS SAY THEY TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY BUT NOTHING CHANGES, WHAT DO YOU DO NEXT?
Then we’ve got to look at those players and see if we can put them in a position where they have to compete for their jobs, and put people in position to compete with them for their jobs. And that’s what we’re doing each and every day. So we’re trying to get the best guys out there that we can on each and every play. And each and every day there’s competition for players to gain more opportunity to play. That’s what competition is and that’s we have here. That’s what gets a player to move forward. Obviously, we’re not in a position to put these guys in a place where they have to compete for their jobs daily. That’s what we do. But players do have a sense of urgency in that regard. They do.
HOW IS MARSHALL?
Brandon’s got an ankle, but we’re very optimistic based on talking to the trainers today.
WHAT IS ACCOMPLISHED BY CHANGING A STAFF IN-SEASON?
In general? It’s all an individual basis. I’ve stood behind the guys that are working here because I’ve been around a lot of coaches over the years. I know guys that do it for the right reasons, that are great educators and teachers, are demanding—which our coaches are. They’re extremely demanding on the field and in the classroom. I think we’ve got excellent coaches here.
WHAT HAVEN’T YOU DONE WELL ENOUGH THE FIRST NINE GAMES?
That’s a loaded question. I haven’t done well enough because our team is not moving in the right direction today. They’re not. Teams have had this happen where they’ve gone three in a row and been able to push themselves out of it. But that’s the most disappointing. I think the most disappointed I’ve been is coming off the bye to play the way we did yesterday. That’s probably the most disappointing part of this year.
YOU WERE “CONFOUNDED” LAST NIGHT. ANY ANSWERS ON THE TAPE?
I think there are answers on there. I’m not going to be specific, but on both sides of the ball, you’re talking about five or six plays in long yardage. We had their offense in long yardage, and he made a play. They made a play, and we didn’t make a play. Offensively, I think there were plays on tape that we saw that we didn’t get it done. And we’ll show our players that, that there’s opportunity there that we didn’t accomplish it, and we’ve got to work through that and get to the point where we can get those plays done. That’s where I think we stand.
WHAT’S NOT TRANSLATING FROM GREAT PRACTICES TO THE FIELD?
Good question. We’re going to look at our practices this week. We’re going to go back and look at the tape of our practices and relate that to the game and show our guys a little bit about what they’re doing on the field and how it’s translating. I think that’s the only way. We’ve got to take the issues—I’ll put them out there in front of us—and educate our players so they can make the transition from the practice field to the game.
IN WHAT WAY DO YOU HOLD COACHES AND PLAYERS ACCOUNTABLE?
I think the accountability is daily. Are you doing your job daily? Are you doing your work at a standard or performance, which is acceptable here? That starts from being on time to being in the meetings, doing the things that are necessary in the meetings, and then working onto the football field. Through the week, our players are extremely accountable. What we haven’t done is played at the level and a standard that is acceptable on a collective basis.
PATIENCE ISSUE WITH FANS?
I think that their passion for this football team speaks for itself. I don’t [hear] a lot of it; I try to keep the noise out. I certainly can imagine the depth of their passion right now at our lack of productivity on the football field. I get all that and I accept that sitting in this position. Our focus has to be on Minnesota and working our out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. I think our guys will come back and be ready to do the things they need to do in the course of the week to be ready to play the Vikings on Sunday.
NO STAFF CHANGES NOW BUT IS IT AN ONGOING EVALUATION?
Everything is day to day. But I wouldn’t use that as alluding to the fact that something could happen in the future. We’ve had these discussions. Right now I stand by these guys and the job they’re doing. I really believe in them. I see that every day in their work ethic and the football intellect that these guys have and the way they relate to the players on a daily basis and I stand by that.
REACTION OUTSIDE HALAS HALL
This fan base is going to be passionate each and every week. That’s part of the expectations that we have here, that our fans love this football team and don’t like the position that we’re in right now. And rightfully so. The only way we can measure up is to show up at Soldier Field and play the kind of football that we’ve seen in us; it’s in there somewhere and we’ve got to dig it out this week.
MARSHALL SAID CONFIDENCE A CONCERN – SOMETHING TO WORK THROUGH?
Absolutely. I’m not going to… You’ve put Brandon’s words out there and I think that’s always the case in moments like these. We’ve got to get them back in here, get them to work where they can focus on doing their jobs, getting better at their work and ready to play the Vikings. That’s something we have to be mindful of moving forward, that our guys, once we get them to work, in the building, show them the game plans, they get back and refocused.
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.