Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.25


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Opening Statement:

Nothing new to report on the injury report with regards to, (Kenny) Yeboah will be out and (Sheldon) Rankins will be out.


Neil Best, Newsday: Now that you have a couple of practices under your belt, what’s your impression of how Mike (White) has reacted to this new role?

Mike’s been fine. He’s a professional. You wouldn’t tell one way or the other. He does a really good job running the offense. He’s got good command of the huddle. So, we are all excited for his opportunity.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: How do you think he’s grown since the last time he played was the four-interception game vs. Buffalo, right? So, how do you think he’s grown since then?

For sure. He prepares every day like he’s the next man up, which he is in this case. He’s a professional in every sense of the word, and as much as he’s grown, you naturally will grow because of the way he attacks every day. He has another year under his belt within the system, and he has another year under his belt as an NFL football player to be able to see all these defenses. While it hasn’t happened in a game setting, he’s had these practices, he’s been in meeting rooms, and like I said, the best players in the world are the ones who can play without thought. So, he has another year under his belt with regard to the mental aspect of it. Now, he just has to attack the game on Sunday.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: He said that you called him Tuesday night. How would you describe that conversation because he’s not a guy who has a lot of experience, so it’s kind of a big deal, I’m sure?

It lasted all of 30 seconds. I said, “Mike, how you doing?” He said, “Good.” I said, “Alright, you ready to roll, man?” He said, “Yup.” I said, “Alright, see you tomorrow.” That was it.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: We asked him about being a savior. I asked him and he answered that like a guy who’s been around, a guy with experience, and he said, “If I do that, that’s where you lose the focus.” Is that kind of what you’re looking for from a quarterback, that approach? He’s getting a big spot where he hasn’t had a lot of opportunities? 

For sure. I don’t want to minimalize the question. It’s every position. You’re not trying to be the best in the world. Obviously, that’s the goal. If you’re trying to chase something you have no control over, you’re just trying to be your best. What is your best? And you trust that your best is good enough. So, he doesn’t need to be anybody but Mike White, no different than Quinnen Williams doesn’t need to be any one different than Quinnen Williams. He doesn’t need to be anybody, he’s himself. If you know what your fastball is and you know what your changeups are, just let it rip. We all have faith in Mike White, and we have faith in his mental makeup and the way he prepares, and we all believe that his best is good enough.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Do you expect to see Justin Fields on Sunday? 

We’re preparing for him. If he plays, we’ll hit him. If he doesn’t play, we will do our best to hit the next guy.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Sometimes Robert, you can say when a quarterback’s questionable, a team will say well, we’re preparing for their offense, doesn’t really matter who’s at quarterback, but that’s not this situation? Trevor Siemian can’t do what Justin Fields can do. Do you almost have to prepare for two different offenses this week?

No, you know what they’re going to do. The element that comes into play is the quarterback run game, so you’re obviously going to prepare for the quarterback run game and thankfully we’ve got a lot of reps under our belt from the different quarterbacks we’ve had to play this year. So, with regards to Justin if he plays, there’s the added element of his scrambling ability which is Josh Allen, and Josh Allen actually runs the ball too, so there’s a lot of things that we’ve banked reps on, so we’ll be able to practice all of that, but as far as their offense, their structure, their run game, all of that stuff, both can do it at a high level. So, we’re just adding the QB run game aspect to it.


Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: What were your thoughts about Justin Fields during the pre-draft process and also, just the way he’s playing right now?

I thought he was big, strong, obviously, he’s got all the athleticism, he’s really coming into his own and they’ve done a really good job with regards to the added dimension of the run game and he’s getting better as a passer, but his off-schedule running, QB run game, it’s a problem for sure.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, your defense did so many good things on Sunday against the Patriots, but one area that looked a little off was missed tackles. It seemed like you missed a lot of tackles on some of those drives. Is that something you’ve focused on this week? Is it something you highlighted?

Yeah, coming off the Bye Week, I don’t want to say it’s always a thing, but especially as you get later into the year, tackling for defenses usually kind of dwindles a little bit and we touch on it every week, every Thursday when padded practices, we have some type of individual where we work on tackling, and just work on angles, and that game was a really good chance to remind ourselves that great defenses tackle, and obviously, it wasn’t our best tackling day, but it’s something I don’t think is a problem, and it’s something that we attack every week.


Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: What are your thoughts about the Bears just in general as a team?

They play their asses off, excuse my language. They play hard. They’re a fun team to watch. They’ve been scoring a lot of points over the last three or four weeks, and you can see the personality. I think (Matt) Eberflus is a fantastic head coach, he’s a fantastic coach, and you can see their personality come to fruition and they do a lot of really cool things. We’re similar defensively in terms of just the philosophy of a four-man rush and that stuff, but I really enjoyed watching their tape this week.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: With Sauce (Gardner), is there any concern that he won’t play, or is he good?

No, he’s playing. Yeah, he’s playing. 


Brian Costello, New York Post: What about (Nate) Herbig?
Herby? Herby’s rolling.


Brian Costello, New York Post: You talked the other day about Zach and kind of the reset and all of that stuff. You have young coaches on offense you know Mike (LaFleur) and Rob (Calabrese) are both young. What’s your faith level in those guys to kind of execute that plan of kind of getting Zach back on track?

I’ve got a lot of faith in them. The biggest thing with coaching obviously is teaching and all of that stuff, and I think age is just a number, right? (Sean) McVay was young once, Matt LaFleur, Kyle Shannahan was super young, and to me, you just got to keep giving them chances, so for me, there’s a lot of faith. I don’t look at age, I just try to listen to what they’re speaking, how they’re speaking, listen to how we’re coaching, the content at which we’re coaching, just how is this all working together, and when you listen to it all there’s a lot of faith in the building that we’re all working together to do the right things and obviously, we can always be better and I’ll always challenge them to be better with the verbiage, and how much information are we giving versus how little information we’re giving because there’s always a balance. I always say this learning from Ken Norton Jr., this football not fit ball, so you want them to play football, you don’t want robots, and this is for every position group including myself, you just want to play, you want to teach them in a manner that allows them to go express their fastball, to be able to throw their fastball and changeups, or whatever they have to do. So, you just want to find that balance and I think they’re smart enough to be able to recognize that balance, and they’ll get better just like every player will get better, just like I’ll get better, but I do have faith in them.


Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: With the Bears defense trading perhaps two of their best players in Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn, how they kind of remended themselves after those trades?

I won’t get into the scheme that we’re seeing, but the philosophy is still there. There’s still four-man rush. Obviously, they got some pressures, they do a little bit of some other stuff, but you still see the philosophy that you see in an Eberflus-type defense. They’re very well-coached. They’re very disciplined. They play hard. They play fast. They’ve been getting better every single week.


Brian Costello, New York Post: All of the focus has been on the quarterback, but your run game was basically non-existent on Sunday, and you’ve been good this year. That’s kind of the way it’s been going. How critical is it for you guys to get that back on track?

It’s consistency more than anything. Anytime, whether it’s offense, defense, special teams, there’s an aspect of your game you just want to know that you can lineup and just do something in. Right now, just trying to find that consistency — what is it on offense? You’d like to think it’s run game. Could it be something in the passing game? Just something where we know, and we’re comfortable to be able to run it. With regards to the run game, you always want to establish it, especially me. It’s a mentality. It’s not lacking in ability, it’s consistency to be able to go in down-in, down-out, stay away from negative yards, try to push forward, understanding two and three-yard runs are good enough to try to stay on-schedule to create third-and-manageable situations. It’s all-encompassing. For sure, it’s always important, but more importantly is the consistency to be able to count on it, week-in, week-out.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: How much does getting Corey back help that whole operation?

It’s big, and sometimes you don’t feel it until they come back. Just the professionalism, the detail, the walkthrough, the deliberateness in which he goes about every rep. Such a high regard for Corey and his professional manner. Him lining up, getting other people lined up. There’s a calm with him in the huddle because we are young at that receiver spot. So, when he’s in there, and he’s kind of directing traffic, and he’s talking to people. The way he practices and the effort, I know from a stat standpoint, fantasy-wise, you may look at it and say, ‘Well, he’s not doing much,’ but he’s by far one of our more productive receivers just because of what he does not just on the field, but off the field, and also, in the run game and all the different things he does.


Brian Costello, New York Post: What does Corey’s return mean for (Denzel) Mims? I think he was inactive before Corey was hurt. 

We anticipate having Mims up. There’s still a role. He’s earned that role. So, hopefully he continues to get some opportunities, but Corey rolls back as the number one.


Jeane Coakley, SNY: This Friday’s shirt?

Yeah, we’re recognizing the Northwest United Workhorses — they’re in Connecticut, a co-op program made up of five different tech schools. Their coach, Jennifer Garzone, is the first female head coach to win a varsity game in Connecticut history. Not only that, they’re undefeated and won their conference, so best of luck to them in the playoffs.