(How have the two days off helped Clifton and where is he at right now?)
Chad is making progress. He went through practice today in a limited fashion, and we’ll see how he is tomorrow. I’m hopeful that he’ll practice either tomorrow or for sure Saturday is the plan going into the week. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. Preferably tomorrow over Saturday.
(Is it still up in the air who you are going to start at left tackle?)
It’s never been up in the air.
(Underwood was full today; is that the furthest along he has been?)
(In any way would you be reluctant to play Chad if he was only able to practice on Saturday like he was only able to practice on Friday last week?)
Chad is a veteran player. We’ll evaluate his work and his medical situation at the end of the week and make a decision. There is nothing really else to talk about. I feel like we have been through this before with him. He needs to practice, and if he is prepared, he’ll play. If not, we feel very comfortable going with Bryan.
(Halftime you had a strong tone to your team and you got great results. Do you feel you will maybe have to use that some more this year for the team to reach the expectations it has?)
Every day answers that question. First, it is important to recognize that every team is different, and this team is different than last year’s team. There is 11 new members on our team that weren’t here last year, so I am very conscientious of every time we face a new experience to go back and educate and reinforce the things that we feel are important to winning. That is no different this week. The Chicago Bears, the history of the rivalry, it’s important for us to acknowledge that and the respect and the importance of going down there the way you need to play in that stadium for our first division game. Whatever tone needs to be used will be used. I think that is your responsibility as a coach.
(What do you see in Cutler this year compared to last year?)
Very productive. Jay Cutler, the first two weeks, he looks like he is off to a great start. It’s a quarterback-friendly system and he’ll be given opportunities to make all of the throws, which he is fully capable of doing. I think really he is off to a very good start. I’m impressed with his first two games.
(The Bears made some coaching and personnel changes. Do you see them as an improved team?)
I see them as a more healthy team. We played them opening day last year and played them later in the season. They had gone through probably as many as more injuries than we had. But every year is a new year. I think they are playing with a lot of confidence, very good tempo on defense. It looks like they have been productive on offense and their special teams has always been a challenge. I think they have always done an excellent job on special teams. They are playing well. They have had two good wins, and a big win on the road last week down there in Dallas. We are looking for this to be a heck of a football game on Monday night.
(What are your impressions of Mike Martz and the way he challenges teams?)
Mike does an excellent job, always has been. He does an excellent job pushing the ball up the field, does an excellent job getting the ball to the backs, utilizing his personnel. I think he is like everybody; there are concepts that he is very comfortable using and they are well taught and very, very effective every place he has been in the shifts and motions and trying to create matchups. He makes you work Monday through Saturday as a defensive staff, that’s for sure.
(If you ever have a moment, will you enjoy watching Dom and Martz match wits?)
If I have a moment to enjoy? I’m looking forward to competing. I’m looking forward to every aspect of the game Monday night. I’m looking forward to seeing our defense with Dom calling it, competing against their offense. Yes, I’m looking forward to that.
(What do you see from Brian Urlacher?)
Brian Urlacher, I think he looks good. He looks strong and powerful. He looks like he is fully recovered. Obviously he hurt his wrist in the game out here last year. Very experienced. He is the quarterback of that defense, and his ability to recognize concepts and their whole defense does a good job of playing with such vision and tempo and pace. I think Lance Briggs is a special player also too. I have always had a lot of respect for those guys at the linebacker position.
(How about Peppers?)
Julius Peppers looks very comfortable in that defense. I think it is definitely tailored for his ability. They are moving him around, playing both the open and the closed side, playing both left and right in sub. I think he is off to an excellent start. Regardless of what defense he plays in, you have to be aware of where he is.
(What does the Bears-Packers rivalry mean to you, and are you bringing anybody in to talk about that?)
We won’t bring anybody in, but we’ll spend a portion of our team meeting particularly educating our first-year players. It’s something I’ve done every year, just to make sure they fully understand the importance of this game, how long the rivalry has gone on, the record and so forth. It always brings an added something to the week. It is still one game. I think you have to keep that in perspective, one game in a 16-game season. But it’s our first division game, and it’s a big rivalry that I know our fans love and everybody looks forward to playing in it.
Mike did OK. I’m curious to see how he responds in the morning. I don’t think he took every single rep. I had a chance to watch him a little bit during the defensive reps. It was good to have him back out there. He needs the work. He’s a young player. I really want to see him go in the padded work tomorrow. We went in shells today because the medical report wasn’t where it needed to be, so we took a step back and went shells and we’ll put the pads on tomorrow, so tomorrow will be a big day for Mike.
(Did you have any idea on draft day two years ago what kind of impact Clay could have?)
Well, anytime you pick someone in the first round, you want him to have an impact on your football team, and going to the 3-4, watching his athletic ability, his production on special teams, too. I feel like I answer this question the same way every time it’s asked, but it’s the facts that when Ted Thompson came back from his USC visit, and with so many excellent players coming out that year, he talked a bunch about
(The Bears showed some problems in pass protection in the preseason and the start of the Dallas game. What adjustments did you see them make?)
They obviously shortened up their steps, with the more controlled passing game. Jay did a good job getting the ball out. They handled the pressure very well. They had the one hot throw to Olsen when they dropped coverage on him. He’s just utilizing Jay in all aspects of the passing game. How they play us I’m sure may be different, but they did a nice job in the second half.
(With Jenkins a little bit limited, how do you think Pickett and Raji have done?)
I think B.J. has put together two good games. They’re playing a lot more snaps than they’ve played in the past, which I know they’re excited about. Ryan’s done a good job kicking out there to the end in the Okie. We haven’t played a whole lot of it, just because of the way the first two games have gone. I think they’re off to a good start.
(Last year you had a lot of success running the football at Soldier Field. What are you looking for from that group of backs on Monday?)
Well, we’ve got to exercise our game plan. It’s a little different running the ball than it was prior to Ryan’s injury just because we’re rolling different players in there. I just would like to get them in more of a rhythm and maybe get them some more opportunities than they had last week. But every game game is a new game, and every year is a new year. It’s a different defense that we’ll play Monday night than we played down there last year.
(Are you looking to expand Nance’s playbook?)
We’re trying to. We worked him more today in practice, trying to give him some things. He’s going through such a terminology change. It’s a lot different than what he’s been exposed to, just from the digit system. Our words are his numbers and his old numbers are our words and so forth. To do that and also to be able to play the speed of a blitz drill, he’s going through an adjustment right now.
(What have you thought of
Sam improved from Philadelphia to Buffalo, and we look for Sam to improve from Buffalo to Chicago. That’s what you’re looking for really in your whole football team. But I thought both him and Morgan did a much better job in Week 2 than they did in Week 1. He’s more comfortable back there. I thought he did a lot better job squeezing the routes, recognizing the concepts, and we look for him to improve. Sam’s doing a nice job.