Head Coach Joe Judge
September 16, 2020
Opening Statement: Today’s been a little bit of a split day for us. Yesterday was the players’ day off. This morning we spent most of our time recapping, cleaning up and correcting things from the game on Monday night. We shifted after our lunch break, and this afternoon has really been a Wednesday for us. We introduced the Bears to our players. We focused a lot on the personnel, the early downs, some of the early down situations with these guys. We’ll get out on the field today. It’ll really be more of a walkthrough day with the short week. We’re going to have to have good mental intensity and good attention to detail. We’ll hit the field tomorrow and Friday and really be more in a full-tempo pace for us to get some time in with the execution.
Obviously, this week playing the Chicago Bears, you talk about the Bears, you have to talk about the history of the league. Starting with George Halas and going to the McCaskey family, these are really some of the good people in the world of football. All of us are very beneficial to what they did through their family business to allow the NFL to develop, along with Wellington Mara, really getting this league jumpstarted. As players and coaches, we took time this morning to really review what they’ve done for the league and for each one of us individually when we have this opportunity.
That being said, the current Bears, this is an explosive team. Coach (Matt) Nagy has done a great job with Ryan Pace of building this team with a lot of explosive players on offense. They have multiple weapons. They use their players in very inventive ways. They do a great job of mixing a lot of personnel groups, along with tempo and quick substitutions. We need to make sure we’re very attentive and in-tune to the game to match the speed that they’re going to present. They present opponents with a lot of issues with their fast motions going across the formations, changing the strength, and then also looking to find ways to get favorable matchups for their skill guys.
Obviously, it starts on their offense with (Mitchell) Trubisky. This guy makes a lot of plays. It starts with his feet in the run and the pass game. You have to find a way to eliminate this guy from extended plays. He’s a talented quarterback, he’s a tough dude. He sits in there, he’s not afraid to take a hit. He delivers a tough ball. Then you go through their skilled guys right there. Starting with their backs, whether it’s (David) Montgomery, whether it’s (Tarik) Cohen, whether it’s (Cordarrelle) Patterson right there, who’s really that kind of unique kind of blend of that receiver-running back. He runs the ball like a returner in space. He’s big, he’s deceptively strong, he runs through arm tackles. We have to do a good job of wrapping these guys up and getting them to the ground. They’re a tough group. We have to do a good job in space against these guys.
Their receiving corps, obviously, it starts with (Allen) Robinson. This guy is dynamic, he’s really their go-to guy. We have to find this guy. They do a great job of mixing him around, moving him, creating opportunities for this guy. But he’s proved over time why he’s one of the top in the league. You go through the tight end position, Jimmy Graham’s been a huge addition for this team offensively. He brings a lot of experience, he brings that big target. This guy, when he gets moving, those extended strides tear up a lot of ground pretty fast. They have a good, talented offensive line. They play very tough. It’s a Chicago team. You know it’s going to be a physical game to start with on both sides of the ball.
Hitting their defense, right away, their edge players definitely jump out at you. (Robert) Quinn didn’t play last week. We know how talented he is. We have coaches in the building who have had personal experience with him, obviously, from his days in Dallas. You go through (Khalil) Mack, this guy is one of the top in the league for a reason. He has a high motor, he’s very productive, he’s explosive off the edge. He gives you a lot of issues. You go through the size players inside with (Akiem) Hicks and some of the other guys. Their ability to push the pocket and really gap up the inside against the inside run, they do a tremendous job.
The backers of (Roquan) Smith and (Danny) Trevathan, these guys are dynamic, they’re good at pass rush, they do a good job of filling and spacing out for the runs. Then on the backend, they have a very talented secondary with the corners. (Kyle) Fuller makes a lot of opportunistic plays, and obviously, (Eddie) Jackson is an opportunistic player who’s been able to go ahead and capitalize on a lot of mistakes by opponents.
You can’t forget special teams. Look, they do a great job of really controlling the field position and creating opportunities for their offense. They have two elite returners. Cohen back there on punt returns, everybody is at the point of attack every time this guy gets the ball. He’s dynamic, he’s explosive, he can make a homerun play on any play. Patterson is one of the best to ever play the game as a kick returner. Simply put, this guy is someone that you’ll read about in history books. When you play against this guy, everybody on the field better be aware of where he’s at, whether that’s offense or on special teams. He’s done a tremendous job covering kicks. I’ve had personal experience with CP from my days somewhere else. He’s just a pleasure to coach, he’s a fun competitor to be around. He’s just good for the locker room. They have a great dynamic on their team. They’re coached very well. Obviously, (Bill) Lazor is going to add from his experience of running the tempo and upbeat offenses, along with a lot of the motion and change of strength formations he’s done in the past. That will only add to their offense and what they’re able to do. We have some experience against him, and he’s had a lot of success against us in different places. We have to make sure we prepare this week. It’s going to be a very tough matchup for us. That being said, I’ll open it up to any questions you guys have at this point.
Q: I wondered if there was a play that number 17, Anthony Miller, made in the Bears’ opener that stood out to you? Also, just what your impressions of Trubisky were in the fourth quarter, rallying after a ho-hum performance before that?
A: I’ll tell you what, forget about the first half with Trubisky. I’ve seen this guy in live action before and the one thing you have to remember about Mitch is this guy is a competitor. This guy is a tough dude, he can extend plays, he can make them with his feet running. He’ll run through contact. He’s also the guy that you have to keep on covering throughout the duration of the down because when you think he’s running, that’s when he finds the open receiver and gets it down the field. He’s done that throughout his career right there. You can never fall asleep on him. He’s definitely a dynamic player. He finds different ways of making plays, a lot of times maybe unconventionally. But he’s an effective player. When Miller’s on the field, one thing that stands out about him right away is this dude plays with a high motor. You can’t find a snap on the field where this guy isn’t going 0 to 60 in two steps. He plays fast, he plays explosive. We can sit here and talk about any one snap, I’m talking to our players about every snap, because you better bring it on every snap. He’s on the field and you blink, he’s walking by you right there.
Q: How different did the Bears look in Week 1 schematically than maybe what you guys had seen in previous years? I know they have new coaches, but it seemed like they were under center a lot more than we’ve seen them.
A: I think the one thing you have to keep in mind with this team is game by game, they’re going to find different ways of matching you up and giving you different headaches. They’re never going to stay in one standard formation or one standard look. When you play the Bears, you have to understand how they think, their philosophy on offense, how they want to attack you. Then as the game goes on, you have to find out their approach to what they’re really looking to do to you game plan wise. All those guys who have worked under Andy (Reid), he’s one of the all-time greats at having a game plan, but then adjusting within the game. Obviously, Nagy has learned a whole lot from him and it shows up every game on tape. I don’t think you can really look at these guys on a one-tape sample and say, ‘this is what their identity is.’ Their identity is going to be whatever it takes to beat you.
Q: Tiki Barber said something today about how until Saquon Barkley improves his pass protection, he doesn’t see him as an every down back. Where is Saquon in terms of where he needs to be in improving as a pass protector? I know that was a big talking point coming into the year. What do you think about someone saying those comments about your player?
A: Look, we’re all working hard every day to get better at everything we do. We’re coming out of training camp, we have one game under our belt. There’s not a player or a coach on our team that doesn’t have to improve going into Week 2, and then consistently throughout the season. We have to go ahead and make up some ground quickly. But we have confidence in all of our players. We’re going to work on every technique we have to in all aspects of the game. People pay a price to watch us play. Everyone’s opinion is valid if they’re a fan. We have to make sure on the inside we understand what we’re doing and that we prioritize on what we have to work on. But I respect Tiki. Obviously, he’s a guy that knows the game. He’s been a great player for this organization. But we’re going to go ahead and make sure we get everybody rising up.
Q: I’m sure when you looked back and analyzed Saquon, you studied every part of his game, including the way he runs the ball, the way he catches the ball, the way he protects the quarterback. What did you see from this first two years? What did you see Monday night?
A: I think I saw a small sample of what Saquon is going to be able to do. We’ve got to do some things to help Saquon throughout the game. He’s a key part of our team, he’s an integral part of our offense. We’re going to keep feeding him the ball and he’s going to make some plays for us. I’m happy with the way he works, I’m very pleased with his attitude. He’s a team-first guy who brings everybody along with him. All of our players have the mentality of whatever we have to do to be successful. Sometimes our own individual success comes off being someone who helps somebody else make plays. I’m pleased with Saquon right now.
Q: Leonard Williams had a sack the other night. I’m curious how he played on the tape because it’s been a big talking point for him about getting to the quarterback. The way you guys play defense, so many of your defensive linemen only played about 47,45 percent of the snaps. Is that something you plan to do regularly?
A: Each game will call for different game plans. The other night is definitely a key point for us to have a fresh defensive line early in the season. We have some talented guys on the front. You want to keep your best players into the game and keep your strengths strong. I’d say in terms of Leo, he’s really had a good camp for us. He came out, he was productive the other night. This guy is playing with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He’s fun to be around and you can tell he really loves the game. He’s a great teammate. He’s a great guy to coach, I enjoy being around him. He’s fun to be around on a daily basis. He was obviously productive the other night and we’re going to keep working to see if we can’t help him out a little bit more.
Q: We didn’t get to ask you this yesterday. Were there any injuries coming out of Monday night’s game we should be aware of?
A: Generally speaking, we came out pretty healthy. I’m going to check with the trainers. I’m expecting, for the most part, to have everybody on the field. Today is a walkthrough type practice. That doesn’t really dictate or show anything long term wise. Generally speaking, we’re pretty healthy. I’m going to check with Ronnie (Barnes) before I speak out, but we have the injury report coming out later on.
Q: There were a couple times in the game on Monday where a tight end was assigned one on one blocking on the edge and it maybe didn’t work out the way you guys wanted. Is that something you are okay with scheming up and those guys you need to take care of those responsibilities? Would you rather not put certain players in certain situations like that?
A: I couldn’t really give you a blanket answer because every game is going to be a little bit different. Obviously, there are talented guys on the edge for every team. Last week against Pittsburgh, that game is behind us now. We have similar talent on the edge this week. Different players, but both very dynamic, very explosive, can change the game fast. Again, based on some of the calls that come out or some of the checks, they may change some alignments. Whatever we’re asked to do, we have to execute. As coaches, we have to make sure we put our players in a position of strength.
Q: There was a couple times the other night where your cornerbacks, I guess Bradberry and Holmes, where they ran the pick play and they ran into each other. They didn’t get around it and were looking around at each other. How do you coach that moving forward to make sure that’s fixed? What are the talking points to make sure that doesn’t happen consistently?
A: For us, it’s just about the technique based on different coverages. Obviously, we have rules that we want to prevent these guys from ever having collisions. The goal of the offense and those rub routes is to create that contact on the defensive players to free yourself up. These are things we’ve already talked to and addressed with the players. We’re working on that throughout the week in practice. This team is going to be a team that has a lot of rub routes, a lot of misdirection trying to get you crossed over. Between linebackers, corners and safeties and who’s covering who. We have to do a good job communicating pre-snap and then adjust post snap.
Q: When you have a young quarterback, a lot of people expect there are going to be mistakes. There are going to be turnovers and things like that. At what point in their careers, and I’m not talking about Daniel here, in general, when you have a young quarterback, at what point do you expect him to turn a corner and shed those habits?
A: I think it’s different for every player. I think you have to keep in mind with young quarterbacks in this league, playing quarterback in the National Football League is the toughest job in professional sports, simply put. You can try to debate that one way or another, I could argue all day long. That’s the toughest job in professional sports. You look at the truly great ones that have come through our league, without naming names, just think real carefully about how many of those guys were able to have high degrees of success before they had to truly carry a team? Think about those real great ones that are going to be wearing gold jackets that have played in this league for call it 15 to 20 years. How many of those guys had the benefit of working with teams that were carried more by defense or the run game or a great arsenal of guys around him that supported him. I’m very confident in our team going forward. I’ll just say this specifically on Daniel, obviously there are some things you have to clean up every game. I’ll tell you right now, you watch that tape from the other night, that dude stood in there like a man and delivered that ball down the field. That dude stood in there aggressively, he stood in there tough, stood in there confidently and our team feeds off that. We’re proud to have him on our team.
Q: I just wanted to follow up real quick. You said the other night that you really liked Daniel’s aggressiveness and want him to keep it. What does that look like in terms of staying aggressive but also protecting the football? How do those two things go hand in hand going forward?
A: You can be aggressive and at the same time make the right decisions. That’s across the board in everything. We’re about to play this week, on special teams Chris (Tabor) has a ton of gimmicks and fakes. We’re not going to go out there and play cautious. We’re going to make sure we follow our keys, follow our rules and play aggressive. Play smart and play aware. These are things you have to be alert for. As a quarterback, you can’t be effective in this league if you’re playing cautious. You can’t be effective in this league if you’re playing scared. You have to be aggressive. As a coach, what you can never do is take away the teeth of your players by pumping the brakes a little bit. It’s our job to instruct them, coach them and give them keys that help them develop. Everyone is going to make mistakes at certain points. The important thing is to not repeat the mistakes. We have to learn from each other’s mistakes so we don’t repeat them ourselves. We can learn a lesson without making the mistake. You can’t take away the aggressiveness of any player. Ultimately, that’s going to weaken them and that’s not good coaching.
Q: Does Daniel have to work on that simulated game speed in practice? It’s one thing to watch it on film and say I can’t make that mistake again. Can you simulate that between games? You didn’t have preseason games and a limited training camp.
A: We do everything we can every day to simulate as much of game-like circumstances and situations as we can. That may be the speed, it may be the situation we create. It may be some kind of obstruction we create within a drill to make it a little bit tougher than normal. We try to do everything in all phases involved to simulate the game every day in practice.