Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Monday, November 7, 2022.
(I believe WR Jaylen Waddle was the only one to even go into the injury tent. How is he? I think he came back actually. How is he and how is the injury situation from yesterday?) – "He's doing all right. That was – really it was the best that we've come out of a game for a while. It was one of those double takes that you have to look at the injury report and be like, 'wait, what? Are you pulling a fast one on me?' But outside of the lone thing that came up was Hunter Long is currently in the concussion protocol. But then besides that, we were all clean."
(Your offensive line seems to be stabilizing recently and I'm wondering, I know it's not just one person. It's not just T Terron Armstead, but you guys had a good performance putting OL Robert Jones in there yesterday. Why has the offensive line improved recently do you think?) – "I think it's a fixation and a collaborative effort on fundamentals. I think starting to understand on a week-by-week basis what is asked of them for the players, I think is important. And then how to drive home the techniques appropriately from the coaching staff, but I think it's been a collective mindset and we're seeing the results week-in and week-out. It doesn't mean everything is – that we're performing exactly the way we envisioned the final product looking. That will never be the case, but we are continually getting better each game which is what gives me confidence because I know that is the formula for teams to have success in this league, is improvement during the course of the season and I think we're all seeing that."
(Were the Bears exactly who you thought they were because at the third quarter about the 5:16 mark you spoke to Bears QB Justin Fields on the side. It seems like you said to him to stop the running the ball. Did you kind of know that's what the game plan was for them going into the game or?) – "No, I just wanted him to stop scrambling and it was pretty irritating because he didn't listen at all. (laughter) He didn't take the coaching and no, I think our whole team took them serious because they're young upcoming team that if you take lightly at all, they make you quickly regret that. So they fought exactly how we thought they were going to. I think Justin (Fields) is really starting to get a feel for when he can utilize his full scale of gifts and he's making plays more and more and becoming more and more difficult to defend. So at that stage of the game I figured no one had asked him to stop it, so I gave that a try. (laughter) I think other coaches can learn from my experience that he does not listen, so rely on other tactics."
(It looks like a lot of times watching the games back that every receiver runs every route with a certain level of conviction and it does so much to open up space for other guys. I'm just curious how you cultivate that in a room at a position where maybe sometimes across the league guys might not give 100 percent every route, but it seems like here they do?) – "No, that's cool. That's something that's been of paramount importance that I think you can really separate offensive play in the pass and run game by the perimeter receivers because I always looked at it like this: you're going to by and large, you're going to have straining try-hard offensive linemen and running backs have to try hard. Otherwise they're going to get blown up and tackled and tight ends are kind of an extension of the offensive line, but you can really have a well-oiled offense if you have football-playing wide receivers. And so football-playing wide receivers don't just run routes hard when they are scheduled to get the ball because that's the orchestration of good wide receiver play within a good offense, is a full commitment and a standard. And that's something that you don't just turn on. That's something that's to a credit to every single coach and player on the staff because it's a daily commitment that if Wes (Welker) is in there and not pointing out that the backside of a run or maybe a run-off route isn't to the standard that we'd like; if he doesn't point that out on a random Thursday in September, it's not going to be right in October. That is something that I think is very important in a way that you can separate yourself in this league, is a commitment by a position that is predominantly dominated by statistical figures that they play team football, then you've got a heck of an advantage that opposing defenses will feel over the course of time."
(After reviewing the film, what did you think of LB Bradley Chubb's first game? What do you hope to see from him as he gets more and more snaps in this defense?) – "I was pumped. The stuff that he was able to do in terms of – you put yourself in his situation and it's Tuesday and you just get notified that you're traded teams, then you're taking your Wednesday of your NFL prep week where you're preparing for first and second down, half of it is occupied by doing physicals and stuff, then you're trying to get sped up to a defensive system that's in a different language. I was very happy with how he was able to go out and play pretty hard. There were several occasions that he didn't end up on the stat sheet, but he completely affected the pass plays by getting to the quarterback in the rhythm quick enough that he had to get the ball out, and that's what you're asking of that position. He'll get better and better as he gets more versed in the nuances of our scheme in both run and pass, but I'm really happy with the player, the talent and the effort. I feel like he's going to fit right in and really help our group moving forward."
(To follow up on that, LB Bradley Chubb and RB Jeff Wilson Jr. both pretty decent snaps. What kind of gave you confidence in their preparation going into the game to throw them in off the deep end like that? LB Bradley Chubb played 54 snaps and RB Jeff Wilson Jr. played 28 snaps.) – "That's kind of what I would have thought going into the game. You're just hesitant because there's the human element. But if any two guys were capable of doing something like that, it would have to be two football-centric, committed, professionals like those two. You leave an open window for – just in case, (it's), 'Hey, this guy is overly on tilt and needs to take a breather,' you kind of let them roll and see how they react. So I think that on both sides of the ball – on defense, I think our edge players got into a rotation that made them all better but it's not finetuned yet. We'll still be adjusting that to find our perfect mix, but I thought there was some groundwork laid there. I thought it was a nice balance to get some productive touches to Jeff (Wilson) and complement Raheem's (Mostert) game. So I think all in all, I was very happy with those guys. It's a testament to them and their teammates, really, for them to be able to produce in the short amount of time that they were able to."
(In the run game, RB Jeff Wilson Jr and RB Raheem Mostert basically split the snaps right down the middle. Is that kind of how you envision the run game going forward, a 1A-1B kind of thing? Or is that just off a game-to-game basis?) – "I think your starting point, those guys, I think they both are starter caliber players. So you kind of make sure that they both have opportunities. They'll always have opportunities in each individual game, but they're both very well aware and well-versed that there's certain times that guys feel it. So when that happens, we stay out of the way. The great news about our running back room and really our team in general is we have a lot of people acknowledging their part in someone's success. The running back room gets pumped when a running back makes a play – it's not really 'I' or 'me.' I think that's a huge variable in team success that's very, very underrated."
(Can you tell us about the practice and game outlooks for CB Byron Jones and OL Austin Jackson this week?) – "No change on Byron Jones. Austin Jackson, you'll see out on the practice field a little bit. We'll get him going a little bit and see – we'll just take it day by day. But you'll get some field sightings of Austin Jackson this week, which is exciting."
(1,104 yards for WR Tyreek Hill so far this season through nine weeks. How do you feel about his level of execution this year so far? And what were your thoughts on his round off backhand spring celebration?) – "I kind of have some beef with our video department, because we cut that celebration off in our coaches copy tape. So we're re-visiting that after this press conference. But live, I thought it was a – I feel like a 7.8 because I didn't feel like he stuck the landing. And from – I know that's a very important part of the judging process, right? But I think that's the cool thing about Tyreek (Hill) is that he recognizes that this game is all about improving. He's – obviously, you're excited to have production on an unforeseen level before, that's great. But what you like is that he and his teammates see that as a vessel for us to get our job done, which is to win, and in that process, he's not wavering or trying to take the easy way out. There were a couple things in this past game that he did better than he has all season. That's what we're looking for and that's what makes me the happiest about it, because you're either getting better or getting worse – there's not really any in-between. He's committed to getting better, so I look forward to his production moving forward."
(To follow up on OL Austin Jackson, I know it's only one practice, we saw him out there on Friday, what did you kind of see from him on Friday that kind of gives you confidence in having him ramp up some more this week?) – "I saw the same player that didn't have any setbacks. So it was – he's actually gotten a ton of mental reps in this period. He's been locked in the whole time. I was encouraged because it looked exactly like the athlete that I know, and I was encouraged because it didn't hurt him in the process. We'll continue to take that approach so that when he is – just to maximize the percentage chance of him when he returns, returning for good. That's all we're trying to do."
(K Jason Sanders, he just pulled it? Was it…?) – "No – you guys definitely didn't do your part in forewarning me, but that city, there's all sorts of wind. (laughter) No, there were some technical nuances. There was also – he was a hair off in a situation where if we didn't get a gust (of wind), it probably would have drilled it. Jason (Sanders) doesn't use that as an excuse. I was just witnessing the obvious which was a gust of wind right at the snap, but it played a factor for sure. And I'll know now to expect wind in Chicago on my own help, none of yours, because you guys didn't tell me anything."