Bears Looking To "Finish"

Bears head coach Lovie Smith talked to the media about his thoughts on Colts QB Peyton Manning, the significance of the word "finish", coaching against his good friend Tony Dungy, and more...

(opening remarks)
"We left Chicago in the 20's with snow and got a chance to come down here with sunshine and 70's so we are off to a good start. We're excited about being here. It's good to see the football team get on the plane and try to take another step. It's been a lot of fun this year. We have super group of players, but this is a business trip for us as much as anything. We wanted to get down here on Sunday to get the lay of the land on our meetings rooms and all of that to try to make this setting as much like Halas Hall as we possibly could, but again we have a big chore ahead of us. As I was riding down on the plane, I had a chance to look at the Indianapolis press guide and I looked at 18 pages of Peyton Manning…that kind of tells you a little bit about what we have in store.

(on if he is comfortable with amount of work accomplished last week in Chicago)
"Yes, very much so. We got a chance to put in eighty-five per cent of our game plan in Lake Forest, so we're right on schedule right now, but we need this week. It will be a couple weeks since we have played and we are anxious to get in a good week of practice. We didn't do a lot of sweating last week up there. We should be able to take care of that and get one good day of padded in and go from there."

(on what's it been like in Chicago the last week)
"First off, we have great fans. We're talking about George Halas and one of the founding franchises of the National Football League. We have a rich history of success and now we are back in that position again. So that's what we have seen throughout, and you name it, I have heard from them. We have a lot of fans that are excited about the Bears having this opportunity, and it's been a lot of fun. It‘s been great for our ball club also. You want your team to have a chance to witness this and be a part of this and that's what it has been like in Chicago this week."

(on how gratifying it is to bring his team to this point)
"Early in training camp we talked about being in this position. We knew where the Super Bowl was held, but everyone talks about it. Our guys went to work. They've done everything I asked them to do and haven't complained at all. We've been through a lot. We started off strong with the winning streak, got beat up by you a little bit and went through a lot of things like that, then to finish strong. It was a good feeling. I was one of the first guys to get off the plane, and had a chance to get my seat real quick and see our players get off with the smiles on their faces. You feel good about where we are right now, but you know all of them will say the same thing. It's one more step and they can't wait. They were rushing off that plane and they can't wait to go to practice tomorrow."

(on why he chose to come to Miami earlier rather than later and if too much build up was any concern)
"I wanted to get down here as soon as possible. By Wednesday we'll be on a regular work week and get a chance to get an extra practice in. We could not practice out on the grass in Chicago right now so this is perfect for us. We like being able to get down here as soon as possible."

(on his curfews throughout the week)
"Everyone made the trip and of course they are all excited and ready to go. We will not have curfew tonight, but the rest of the week we will have curfew. That will not be a problem for us. We have real men who know what is at stake. They know if one guy takes the wrong turn, we will all hear about it. We are going to police each other a little bit, but at the same time, we don't have boot camp and we are not going to make them be in their rooms at eight o'clock. We are going to enjoy Miami, but know there is work to be done and go from there."

(on if a win would end the comparisons with the '85 Bears)
"It's hard to say. I've talked about our history. Right now, if you talk to a Chicago Bears fan, they are going to talk about the '85 Bears and rightfully so. That was a great team. Arguably one of the best Super Bowl champion teams, so that's what we have to compete with. I think if we are fortunate enough to win the football game, we will at least be a champion that's talked about and that's all we are looking for. We're not competing against anyone else but the Colts and trying to get that ring. That will validate everything that we need."

(on his thoughts on Peyton Manning and his accomplishments)
"Since I have known Peyton since he was a freshman at Tennessee, I knew most of those things. We give them all the respect that they deserve, but we are going to show up Sunday.  We have a couple scholarship players, too, and hopefully we can slow them down a little bit."

(on if he let his players read the eighteen pages on Peyton Manning in the Colts media guide)
"I don't think they need to read through all those eighteen pages. By your question, we'll hear quite a bit about Peyton all week. They know who Peyton Manning is. I'm one of his biggest fans also. Like I've said, I've known this guy for a long time. He is one of the all time greats. The Danieal Mannings, the Charles Tillmans, Nate Harrises, Todd Johnsons, Chris Harrises – they like that opportunity to play against the best in the biggest game of their lives and they are looking forward to that. Our defensive line will also have a say in that and they are looking forward to it, too."

Bears MLB Brian Urlacher
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(on Chicago's reaction in its role as an underdog)
"It seems like we have been in this role all year, and rightfully so I would say. Sean Payton did a super job with the Saints and all they were able to accomplish. We are playing the Colts this week and they have a lot of weapons and I can see why we are in that underdog role. I have a harder time seeing how we've been an underdog role all year with our record. We've met all the obstacles that have been put in front of us and it still hasn't been enough. Here is a stage where if we can finish the job one more time, we will get that respect that we think we deserve."

(on what makes Chicago so indigenous to have great middle linebackers and how does Brian Urlacher fit in that tradition)
"Some teams you just look at them a certain way. Chicago Bears, offensively, you think about a tailback, guys like Gayle Sayers and Walter Payton. You assume that we should have good tailbacks right now and we do in Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. But Chicago is a defensive town. It's blue collar and for some reason Dick Butkus played there, Mike Singletary played there and for us to get lucky or whatever you say, it's a great job by our scouting department to get Brian Urlacher. I'll just say I've been around some good linebackers, some great linebackers, Derrick Brooks being one of them as an outside linebacker. But Brian Urlacher as an inside linebacker has it all. He's one best guys you'll ever meet, one of the best superstars you'll ever get a chance to be around and you can't find anyone with more talent than him, 6-4, 255 pounds, six percent body fat, you just go through it all. He's a coach on the field. He knows our defense in and out. He is a perfect teammate. When do you want me to stop?"

(on the significance of the word ‘finish' with the team)
"After last year's playoff loss we had to come up with something, and as I looked at all the things we were able to accomplish last year, that was the one thing we didn't get done -- finishing the season on a high note. So coming into this season, and I'm talking about mini-camps, training camps and all of that, it seemed fitting to have that as our word and we stuck with it. We had a chance to finish a lot of football games and I can say that's the one thing our football team has been able to do, finish games from Arizona to a lot of close games we have played, some kind of way we find a way to pull it out. It's one more step to say a job ‘well done' and we are anxious to have that opportunity."

(the impact of hometown Big Sandy, Texas on him and his impact on Big Sandy)
"I don't know how much impact on it, but it has had a lot on me. I'm just proud to be from there. We have a lot of people from Big Sandy making the trip down. If you know much about Big Sandy, it's about hard work and a small town…a football town I should add. It's more in that Friday Night Lights type of setting. Again, I'm just proud to be from there and hopefully we can make them proud."

(on his coaching philosophy, if yelling and intimidation of players is necessary, and the last time he yelled at a player on the field)
"I can't remember. Brian Urlacher can tell you that. I don't think you have to downgrade guys or curse them out. I think what players want you to do is coach them. As much as anything, they want you to teach them. We spend the majority of our time trying to do that. I'm not just talking about me, but my staff. That's what we try to do to get the point across. If there's a time that you want to yell at a guy, if you'll start trying to tell him what he did wrong. We try to do that as much as possible. Is that to say we never raise our voice? No, we are not saying that. Do I get upset from time to time? Of course I do. I just think you can just deal with that a different way than that approach. What I have found is that we have real men. They understand. You don't have to put them down. They are not your kids and things like that. If you treat them like that, they'll do whatever you want them to do."

(on the pressure of being one of the first African American head coaches in the Super Bowl and what he has heard from his family and players about that)
"First, we are excited about being here and I'm excited to cross that road and be one of the first to participate in this game. As far as our players and my family, they are just excited about being here as much as anything. We realize the importance of taking that step and we like being a part of that, but I'm excited about having the first Afro-American coach to hold up the trophy and that's our ultimate goal."

(on the dynamics of coaching against Tony Dungy and impact on their friendship)
"First off, Tony Dungy's tree has so many branches and after you've been in the league over ten years, it seems like every week there is someone you know. So as far as the friendship being put on hold, yes, we've had to do that. We know how to do that, but as far as preparing for them, we know what to expect. Tony has his team in the Super Bowl. That's a Tony Dungy team. He is one of the all time great coaches. We know that we'll have to play sixty minutes. We know that they are going to play good defense, good offense. We know how much importance Tony puts on special teams. We are going to have to be at the top of our game. Our players would say that and once you get to a stage like this, that's exactly how it should be."

(on why this game is a watershed moment between Smith and Dungy and if this game renders that point moot once they have achieved it)
"There has to be a first and this is a first. I don't think it will be talked about as much. Whenever you cross one barrier or whatever you say, it isn't as big a story. But right now we realize it is. I'm most excited that progress is being made, and next year by us being in this position, we won't have to talk about all of these things."


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