(Do you have an update on the plan for
Cullen Jenkins participated down in the rehab segment of practice today and took a couple of snaps on the opponent team. To be honest with you, we’re going to have to talk about him at the end of the week. I don’t have enough information. I really don’t have a pulse on where he is right now. We’ll take the week to see how Cullen does.
(What happened with Shields?)
(How much does how played against the Giants help you in another game you have to win?)
You are as good as your last game. It was a very good performance by our football team in all three phases. It’s a standard you can look back on and try to exceed. We’re trying to improve every single week. Our mindset, our philosophy, our approach hasn’t changed. We’re about winning football games and improving. There are things in the Giants game that we can improve on, but for the most part we played at an extremely high level. It doesn’t carry over week-to-week as we know, but the things we are focused on is preparation. Our mindset is on having a better preparation week than we had last week and obviously a division rival coming in here to Lambeau.
(Do you feel like you are playing as well as anyone in the NFC and if you get in the playoffs you can do some things?)
I hate to bore you; the hypothetical conversation, I really don’t take part of. I really stay true to our football team. For me to sit here and say we’re playing better than everybody, I’m not watching everybody right now, but I love the way we’re playing. We’ll play anybody, anywhere. We’re excited about the contest coming up here Sunday. Everybody is looking forward to it, but today is Wednesday. There are things that you accomplish on Wednesday and we’ll continue to do so with the meetings after the players shower and everything and eat lunch. We’re taking it one day at a time, really focusing on our preparation and making sure we are fully ready for this contest on Sunday.
(Does it mean anything to you that the Bears might not have anything to play for?)
No. That’s a polluted mindset. That’s what I told the team today. Leave the pollution outside the doors. We’re focused on beating whoever comes out that gate on Sunday. They are going to have white jerseys on and we’re going after them. That’s our mindset. We need to get to 10 wins and we’ve been focused on that for quite some time. We’re in position to accomplish our goal of getting into the playoffs and that’s what we’re focused on.
(Is that the same approach you took last year in the finale at Arizona?)
I think this is a totally different scenario than the Cardinals. The criteria of everything around it is different. We went out to the Cardinals last year to keep improving. That hasn’t changed, but I think it is clearly evident both teams are in different situations.
(Is there any extra emphasis on getting after Cutler because it seems like he throws the ball up more if he is getting hit or pressured?)
Every week you want to get after the quarterback, and Jay Cutler is playing very well. I think this segment of the season, this is the best he has played. That won’t change, regardless of who is playing, but you definitely want to get after him. He is able to make all of the throws. They have been very productive in big plays of late. I don’t think you can just put that one tendency on one individual. Some players handle pressure other than others. They seem to be playing a lot better in the fourth quarter of the season.
(You talk about ball protection; can you talk about going up against a team like the Bears that is so good at stripping the ball?)
Definitely they are very good. I think they are third or fourth in takeaways in the league. We do a very good job of it. It’s something that we practice every single day. The design of their defense, the vision that they play the ball with pretty much everybody in the back end, they have been doing a very good job of it for a number of years. It’s emphasized. It’s the first thing we put up in the offensive meeting and I talked about it in the team meeting. Zero giveaways will be an important statistic this week.
(Hester is having one of his best seasons. Has he evolved as a returner or are they blocking better?)
I think Devin Hester is the best player on their football team. I think he is having, like you said, an incredible season. He has impacted pretty much every game that they have won. He is a big part of it and he is really doing a nice job as a receiver. When he has the ball in his hands, he is dangerous, whether they are blocking it better or whatever the case is. He has always played well and his statistics speak for themselves. Everybody talks about he has scored the most touchdowns, but they are No. 1 in the league in field position and he is a big key around that. In my opinion, he is their best player on their football team.
(Do you let him touch the ball on a return?)
Whether you do or not, those are all game-plan discussions. How we play our guys or how we throw the ball or who we throw to, we don’t talk about that. It’s top-secret stuff.
(What’s the extra challenge on kickoff returns when they also put Manning or Knox back there?)
They have three very good returners. They do a very good job. They’ve done a very good job on special teams my whole time here. I give them a lot of credit, and it’s a big part of their success there.
(Do you think Aaron would be motivated by not being picked for the Pro Bowl?)
That’s really a question for Aaron to answer. But
(How about Forte this year versus last year?)
I’d say he’s having a heck of a year. I think they’re doing a very good job running the ball of late, more committed to it. He’s a three-down back. I think just that in itself says a lot about him. He does a very good job with the yards after the hit, very good coming out of the backfield, does a nice job in their protection pickups. This is clearly probably one of his better years that I can recall since he’s been there.
(Do you recognize much of Mike Martz’s offense from his days with the Rams?)
I think what you recognize with Mike Martz is his system. He has a systematic approach to the way he attacks defenses. He’s very aggressive in his approach, and it’s not uncommon to see different things throughout the game, adjustments that are made based on how you’re playing him. I think he’s going through a normal process that happens to coordinators when they go into a new place. Sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you want it during the beginning, but they’ve continued to improve on offense throughout the season and they’re playing their best football right now.
(The Bears gave up a lot of points to the Patriots and Jets in recent weeks. Do you glean anything from that?)
I’ve watched the games. You watch all the games, so we have a way that we approach every game plan, and we’ve gone through the normal process of that. I think they’ve been extremely consistent on defense throughout the season. You don’t see a whole lot of up and down. I think it’s also reflected in the statistical categories that they’re ranked very high in, probably the most important ones, points, takeaways. This is going to be an excellent challenge for us on offense.
(The outcome last night wasn’t expected. As a head coach, is it more challenging when there’s something big on the line for a game, or is it easier when there’s something big on the line?)
None of them are easy. I just think that’s why depth charts don’t win games. Inactive lists don’t win games. This is the NFL. It happens time and time again. It happens every week, and that’s why the things that don’t show up on statistical sheets, … you have to have the right mindset, the motivation, things have to be in order every time you take the field, and I think it’s very evident all the time. The outcome of last night’s game is no surprise, because it happens all the time in this league. It’s a very, very competitive league. As far as who’s playing where and who’s playing what, it’s the ultimate team game. That’s what we’re focused on. We’re focused on making sure our 11 are playing their best football come Sunday.
(You’ve used guest speakers and other things as motivation. When there’s a game this big, do you not need to do that kind of thing?)
Whether you use a guest speaker or not, it’s a rare occasion for us, personally. But we won’t have one Saturday, I can tell you that.
(Do you anticipate Bigby and Hall being multiple-week injuries?)
Multiple weeks? A little too early to tell. I definitely know that they won’t make it this week, but we’ll see where they are next week.