What does it say about his toughness to have stayed in the game after being hurt?
He’s a quiet guy and also a very tough guy. He battles through a lot. That whole receiver group does. They run a lot and work hard, yet they never complain. They just go about their business. I figured something was wrong obviously when he’s holding his shoulder and hanging it in a weird position. We just felt like if he was doing that, something was probably wrong and for him to stay in when his team needed him for those last two plays, it says a lot about him as a player and his toughness.
Does the fact that when he’s been hurt and Lance Moore, that when one guy in that group goes down, you guys find ways to compensate help matters?
Yes. I think everybody knows that. Everybody understands that we’re going to try to spread it around and try to create matchups and opportunities for everybody and that there are going to be times where a guy goes down, two guys go down and you have other guys that have been picking up the slack. It gives young guys opportunities to make some plays that maybe haven’t gotten a lot of playing time up until that point. So, certainly defensively when you try to figure out where the ball’s going, the way we spread it around, we keep people on their toes by doing that.
Do your guys know how to fill in at different receiver routes?
Sure because if you lose a guy for a series or a number of plays, you always have a backup plan or a plan for where you can go and improvise a little bit, run the same play with a different personnel group maybe, but it all works because they are smart guys that know their role and also how to fill in.
How much do you rely on Olin Kreutz to explain some of the nuances of the Bears?
He absolutely does having been in Chicago for 13 years. I think the challenge is even if you know where they’re going, these guys are impressive. Their defensive scheme, albeit considered simple by standards these days, yet, the results are about the same. They do a great job of rallying to the ball, tackling, creating turnovers, forcing you into third and long situations, making you become impatient. They do a good job of stopping the run with a seven-man front. Their philosophy reflects that they’re well-coached and well-disciplined. They have a lot of guys that have been in that system for a while.
We went to Jimmy John and there were customers disappointed you didn’t make an appearance. What do you have to say to those fans?
Unfortunately I have a day job I have to be at. I’ll obviously make it over there as much as I can because I’m a fan of the food. I’m a fan of Jimmy John’s, as well as part-owner. I’m excited about bringing the franchise to New Orleans. I know a lot of people are excited about it. I tweeted about it a few times and usually get great fan response from people that have had it in the Midwest or other places around the country. There’s a Jimmy John’s that opened up in Baton Rouge a couple years ago. I know the LSU students love it and they have two stores now. We’ve brought it to New Orleans and hopefully we’ll continue to grow the franchise throughout the city. The first door opened today. We’re excited about that. The coaches will be getting it here tonight as well as the quarterbacks because we’ll be here late too.
Were you surprised at how much trouble the Bears defense gave Matt Ryan and the Falcons or was there rhyme or reason to the scheme?
Obviously playing in Chicago’s a tough place to play. That scheme prides itself on getting after the quarterback with a four-man rush. Obviously you need to have some talented rushers and (Julius) Peppers and (Israel) Idonije are two ends on the outside that do a great job of rushing the passer. Their two guys inside are big physical guys with great technique. When they do bring pressure, they do a good job of it. They have good pass rushers on the linebacker corps, big strong guys and physical defensive backs. They thrive on that system and on the four-man rush, causing you to force the ball into places you don’t want to or sooner than you want to because of the shell zone they play. They hope you get impatient or have to force something in there.
There is a lawsuit out there brought forth by retired players. Is that anything the current players asked for you to talk to them about?
No, I’m unfamiliar with what’s happened today. I haven’t had a chance to check emails or see anything.
I know it was something that retired players like Carl Eller have been vocal. Are you familiar with it?
I’m not particularly sure what this lawsuit’s about, but you say over the last four or five years I’d say there’s been displeasure among retired players about views, I think the most consistent one being the disability situation, benefits, as well as retired players pensions. I feel like we did our absolute best to mediate those issues with the CBA that was just signed. Within that CBA was a revamping of the disability system, increasing a lot of the benefits guys will receive in disability and also an increase in the pensions for pre-93 players. I think there are a lot of improvements made anytime we get together as a players association or constantly talking about ways to make improvements in benefits for retired players, because they absolutely deserve it. We do our best to do it all the time.
Do you think the Bears were sold short a little in the preseason?
Yes, I think obviously a lot of the focus around the league and in our conference and in their division is the Packers and so, let’s not forget that they are the ones who hosted the Packers in the NFC Championship game. They’ve been to two NFC Championship games, one Super Bowl in the last five years. They have the recipe and blueprint for success how to win games. We’ve had maybe the misfortune of meeting them three times in Chicago and it hasn’t ended very well for us, so we know the challenges. We’re happy that it’s our home opener. We’re coming to the Dome. We obviously know it will be a crazy atmosphere and we need every advantage we can get.
Do you keep track of that you’ve never beaten the Bears?
I know I haven’t beaten these guys and I’ve played them there every time, all four times in Chicago, three times with the Saints and one with the Chargers. Obviously I have to figure something out.
In contract negotiations is there going to be a cutoff at some point during the season if they don’t proceed?
My agent and Mickey (Loomis) are in ongoing discussions. For me, I’m trying to compartmentalize it the best that I can. Obviously I’m involved to an extent. I have other very important things to think about as I prepare for the upcoming games, so that’s why I hired my agent. They all have a job to do. I’m hoping it will be done sooner rather than later, but for me really it’s about focusing on winning games and trying for it to not be a distraction.
What do you think of Brian Urlacher?
He’s obviously been one of the best inside linebackers in this game for a long time. He’s great with that system and scheme. Obviously he’s a big, physical presence. You can tell he has command of the defense and is making all the calls. He’s a playmaker, always around the ball, creating fumbles, getting fumbles, interceptions, tipping balls. You just see him be responsible for a lot of big plays on defense. He’s a big hitter. He’s just a big, rangy guy who has great instincts and yet for a guy that big, he moves so well. He’s a guy that you have to know where he is and understand his range inside, especially in the passing game.
How do you prepare for if Urlacher will be there or not following his mother’s passing?
You never count guys out. I know how hard that is. My mom passed away in training camp before the ’09 season, so it was that sudden event. I know how that feels. I also know that after you are able to breathe with your family, you also look forward to getting with the guys in the locker room because they’re your family too. They help you get through it too. The faster you get back on the field and are with those guys, you feel like you’re representing your loved one, in this case his mom.
Is there anything you learned in the Green Bay game that you would utilize against Chicago?
Maybe that division’s tough. There are two different styles of defense. They both have some pretty elite pass-rushers. Their ability to get after the quarterback, sacks, turnovers, I’d say that part of the philosophy is the same, the structure a little different, but in a lot of ways, if you talk about defenses in general, what you were trying to accomplish, hang your hat on, if they can get pressure on the quarterback and get turnovers, they’re going to be pretty good. Both of those defenses do that and therefore those are the reasons they are among the elite defenses in this league.”
Was last Thursday a good sample of what Darren Sproles can do on offense?
Yes, we continue to build on that. He’s very versatile, can do so many things, not to mention the special teams stuff too, but offensively, his ability to run the ball from a two-back set, single-back set, split him out, motion him out, screens. You name it, he can do everything. He has a great feel for it too. He’s just a ballplayer. You can’t have enough of those guys on your team, just guys that know football, have instincts and are great guys.
Can you comment on Jay Cutler’s performance last Sunday and without getting in his head, do you think it was good given what he went through in the offseason?
Yes, one thing he does pretty well is he seems like a guy who can overcome the adversity, put a lot of the distractions aside and play football. Obviously, I know the Chicago media market can be tough, I think he’s always been a guy who’s been able to do that. He’s extremely talented throwing the football. He has obviously a real strong arm and you can see he’s pretty fearless in the way that he throws it around and fits it into areas other guys wouldn’t be able to, so his road’s been kind of interesting. He starts off in Denver, makes a Pro Bowl, the whole asking for a trade situation, he ends up in Chicago. Maybe his first year there wasn’t what he hoped for. Then last year he leads his team to the NFC Championship and he’s started off strong this year. I think he’s a guy who’s very talented. He has some weapons around him offensively. They have a great defense, so they have all the makings for a great team. He understands that. He understands his role on the team.
SOME hither, others yon: PFT.Com's power rating has the Saints No. 2 behind the Packers. "The two best teams in the NFL have played against each other on Sunday." National Football Post has the Saints at No. 6. "Expect Saints defense to make some serious adjustments heading into Week 2's matchup with the Bears."CBSSports.com ranks the Saints `11th. It was ugly in Green Bay. Will there be a lot of shootouts this season or can their defense be fixed?"...Packers cornerback Charles Woodson was fined $10,000 by the NFL for punching Saints TE David Thomas...
If you can't find the Saint tickets you want or can't use the tickets you've got, buy or sell safely with NFL Ticket Exchange powered by Ticketmaster. Buyers get in, sellers get paid. Convenient email ticket delivery makes it easy for everyone...SI.com's NFL expert Peter King, who picked the Falcons to win the Super Bowl while leaving the Bears out of the playoffs, came away from Sunday's 30-12 Chicago victory duly impressed. "Don't sleep on the Bears," King wrote in his weekly column...
Bears GM Jerry Angelo on former Bears center Olin Kreutz on signing with the Saints for less money than Chicago was going to pay him: "He embodies what a football player is. I have the highest respect for him. The reason that I'm in this business and why we're all in this business is because of players like Olin Kreutz."
WELL it didn't take long. Reggie Bush's role as the Dolphins featured back is being criticized by the Miami media; Bush's numbers weren't that bad against the Patriots. He had 11 rushes for 38 yards and caught nine passes for 56 yards, including a garbage time score. The problem was more that Bush failed to make any big plays when he had the chance and had too many runs that didn't go anywhere. His last nine carries got 18 yards, He also wasn't an option in goal-line situations where the Dolphins were stuffed a few times. One arm tackle on Bush was perhaps the most telling play. Miami didn't try to run Bush inside after that. "The apparent truth is that Bush really wasn't built for this, even if you wanted to believe otherwise, and I like many did," wrote Israel Gutierrez in the Miami Herald.....
Trivia time: Name the NFL player who has played in the Super Bowl and the Final Four...Les Miles has made Yardbarker.com's College Football's Top 10 coaching rants with "Have a great day." (2007). "We're not sure of Miles' behavior at a news conference in advance of the 2007 SEC Championship Game, an eventual 21-14 victory over Tennessee. The coach was shooting down rumors he was a candidate for Lloyd Carr's job at Michigan...Former Tulane standout Matt Forte of Slidell put another chip in the pot Sunday in making the case for what he believes his new contract with the Bears should be. He rushed for 68 yards (4.3 average) and led the Bears with five receptions for an additional 90 yards, 56 of those taking a screen pass into the end zone for a TD, The 158 yards marked the fifth-highest game total of his career...
...Trivia answer: Bears DE Julius Peppers, who played for the Panthers in the Super Bowl and North Carolina in the Final Four after the 1999-2000 season...
by Ed Staton
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