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09 November 2016

Transcript: Chicago Bears Conference Calls with Tampa Bay Media (11/9/16)

(On key of carrying over momentum from the win against the Vikings after the Bye Week)
“The biggest thing is we were a pretty banged up football team and it gave us an opportunity to get some guys back out to practice with the idea of hopefully playing. We got [quarterback] Jay Cutler back, our starting quarterback who’d missed the last five games prior to the Minnesota game. It gives him a chance to get some of the rust off because he missed five weeks and many other guys. We had two Pro Bowl guards miss the Minnesota game that are closer to playing now. We’ll see as we move forward. Our slot receiver Eddie Royal [got healthy]. We’ve been without a lot of different guys that were able to heal up and get moving. Obviously, winning a division game against an opponent that was leading our division gave us a little boost of confidence, but I think the biggest thing is just getting healthy.”
(On issues in the fourth quarter scoring)
“I don’t know. It’s really for me, it’s been more about putting two halves together, going all the way back to the opener in Houston where we were actually in the lead in the first half. So, really the last week against Minnesota I think was the first game that we actually put sixty minutes of football together really in all three phases. We’re a little bit young. It’s not an excuse, it’s reality. We’ve had our share of injuries in particular at the quarterback position, so consistency has been a little bit of our problem which hopefully we’re a little bit healthier now and we’ve grown during the first half of our season hopefully to the point where we can play more consistent football for sixty minutes moving forward.”
(On if he can sense a change in the team following the win against Minnesota)
“Yeah, I think playing football in this league both at the individual player level and really putting it all together at the team level. Obviously, it helps to have confidence and it’s hard to gain confidence without something good happening and so much is put on the win and loss columns is our league which in understandable. We’re in a performance based business and so obviously, you work very hard in preparation to get that good feeling in the locker room with a ‘W’ after a game does give you a boost of confidence.”
(On the lift it gives a team when injured players return to the field)
“Again, it’s a team game and you talk so much about being a good teammate and playing for the guy next to you. When you look next to you and you’re used to seeing a certain guy and you know what to expect and he’s had skins on the wall in the league like [running back] Doug [Martin] has, any time you get a guy like that back, can give you a boost. For us, getting [quarterback] Jay Cutler back for the Minnesota game, I think gave our football team a boost for that game. So, like anything, when you look over there next to you and you see some guy that’s been a good performer, you know, of course that gives you more confidence.”
(On Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I really liked [Jameis] Winston coming out. I have the utmost respect for him from preparation last year. Watching again this season, the chemistry he has built with obviously, [wide receiver] Mike Evans and the Bucs have been nicked up a little bit at receiver and running back. I think that makes it tough on a quarterback because you’re trying to build that chemistry and so much of the passing game is timing and chemistry. From what I’ve seen, he’s extended plays, he’s got a good awareness in the pocket, you love his temperament and how he goes about playing the game. You can tell it’s important to him; the whole concept of winning and he’s a competitor. I’ve seen growth. You watch how much better they’ve gotten at third down this year, so I think the coaching staff there has done a good job and obviously, he’s done a pretty good job responding.”
(On what he believes clicked in the Vikings game)
“I think it starts up front with us. Our offensive line did a great job. I think [offensive coordinator] Dowell [Loggains] and the coaching staff put together a really good plan. I don’t know, we executed. We put some points up early. Their offense was struggling a little bit, our defense played really well. Then the second half, we were able to run the ball, kind of control the clock, put a couple touchdowns up. We played good ball really all around, the whole team.”
(On anticipating playing again after spending five games out with an injury)
“I mean, it’s my 11th year. I’ve played a lot of football. You get hurt. It’s going to happen. No one likes being on the sidelines, but it’s part of the deal. It’s good to get back out there. It’s hard to sit and watch, game after game. So, it was good to get back out there especially Monday night.”
(On tight end Zach Miller)
“Yeah, he played along last year. We knew kind of what we had in him when we got him. It was just a matter of fitting him into the offense and giving him opportunities. Towards the end of last year, we started kind of feeding him the ball, giving him more and more touches and he hit free agency and they were lucky enough to get him back. So, we have to keep finding a way [to get him the ball] because he is a matchup problem for most linebackers. If you look at this team in Tampa Bay, those guys can run.”
(On running back Jordan Howard)
“With him back there, he is a talented guy. You wouldn’t know he’s a rookie the way he plays and kind of the calming effect he has out there. I think he’s really getting a lot better. He knows the cuts, he knows where things are designed to go. He’s gotten better and better over time.”
(On how much easier it is to keep offense moving when you have production at the running back position)
“(inaudible) You’ve got the quarterback and everybody across the league knows you run the ball, it’s going to open up some stuff downfield and in the middle of the field. It’s week to week. Sometimes you can run it, sometimes you can’t run it, but you’ve got to give it a go and I think offensively up front, we’ve done a pretty good job the last four or five games of keeping things going in the run game.”
(On quarterback Jameis Winston)
“I honestly haven’t watched him one time, so I’m not sure what is happening with him.”

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