Obviously a very disappointed football team today, coming off a very tough loss yesterday. After looking at the tape in all three phases and speaking with Mel and the staff, Joe and the staff, Aaron, I liked the way we came out. I thought we were a very fresh team. On offense I was very disappointed the way that we started. The fact that our defense had three sacks early and we were not able to do anything with the field position was extremely disappointing. We didn't finish our drives. We started off poorly on third down. Going into this game we had moved up about 10 spots. We were I think 11th or 12th in the league in third-down conversions and moved up quite a bit the last four weeks and we didn't get it done there. In our short yardage, certainly we had a second-and-one and a third-and-one that we didn't convert, critical to maintaining possession. Very disappointed. We talked through all of those today and we'll continue to work on trying to get better, especially coming off a fast start by our defense.
Amidst all of that, there were a lot of good things that happened on offense. There were a lot of good plays, a lot of good runs, throws and catches, some very good protection along the way. But at the end of the day we didn't finish. We didn't get the job done and it's the way we started that really prevented us from finishing strong.
On the defensive side of the ball, we didn't do it on fourth down. They had three-of-three on fourth down and we had them backed up twice and they scored two long touchdowns, which really were very disappointing. Amongst the five sacks that we had, Julius probably having his best game. He was very disruptive. We're 24 percent on third down. We get an interception off a sudden change. Quarterback rating was 75 and our red zone efficiency was one out of five. But our run defense, our fits were good. but we didn't finish with the tackles we needed to make on a very tough runner, no doubt about it. He didn't have any touchdowns, but we just didn't finish in the holes, finish with the tackles on a collective basis enough of the time.
And then to be up 20-10 in the fourth-quarter and not be able to finish the game in any phase of our football disappointed all of us amidst a lot of good play. It wasn't good enough. I talked to our guys today and let them know that we're where we are. Everybody knows where we are. We're 6-6 and Detroit goes into Philly on Sunday before we play. But at the end of the day all we can control is to get ready for prime time football on Monday night. I think our guys are going to be excited to do that. We've had a good year in prime time and I think that our guys will be refreshed with the extra day off and be ready to go.
And then the last thing, I just wanted to hit on the field goal at the end of the game and just the reason behind that, and it's very simple. Once we got inside the 30-yard line, we were going to kick it. We were well within Robbie's range. We ran the ball on first down and got three. We were sitting there on second-and-seven and the ball's in the middle of the field, well within Robbie's range. With all the things that had happened throughout the game, including Minnesota's failure to make a field goal when they went back with penalties, we were in a great position right there to kick it and finish the game. That's the decision I made in the best interest of the team. It didn't work out. I recognize that and I accept accountability for that. As I told the team today, Robbie didn't lose the game because he missed the kick. We had a number of different ways to win the game throughout and we didn't get it done, and that all starts with me.
Injury situation: Jay will still be week-to-week. He's progressing. We'll see how he is Thursday. Lance on his shoulder, it's healing. He's progressing. He got some work last week. We'll see how he is on Thursday. Major's hamstring, he's in the same mode. I feel pretty good about that and we'll see where he is Thursday. Anthony Walters has the groin. Again, he'll be much better this week and the extra days will help. Kyle has a sprain that he played with throughout the game. He did it early and played throughout the game, finished the game, and we expect him to be OK. And Zack went out. He had cramps and that won't be an issue going into next week.
KYLE WAS AN AKLE?
He was an ankle, yes?
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO SEE FROM JAY?
He's gonna have to … we'll just see where he is. I'm not sure where we are right now. He visited the doctor today and we'll know more Thursday or Friday. But it'll start with some limited work and see how he moves around, and we'll take it from there. Still week-to-week.
POSSIBILITY THAT LANCE PRACTICES?
I really can't answer that right now. I will know more on Thursday. We'll have to see where it is. Next couple days, I'll have a better idea.
BUT YOU EXPECT JAY TO PRACTICE BEFORE OR ON THURS?
I don't know. He went to the doctor today to get checked. I'll know a little bit more in the next 24 hours. I really can't answer that question right now.
TO CLARIFY, NEITHER PLAYER HAS BEEN RULED OUT?
They're week-to-week. I gotta leave it at that. That means we'll see where they are at the end of this week. I'm not trying to hide anything from you. That's where we're at.
ON YOUR DECISION TO KICK, WERE THERE STAFF MEMBERS WHO DISAGREED OR VOICED OPPOSITION?
We made a collective decision that once we got in there was complete agreement and no discussion on the matter. We were second and seven. Again, we were in the middle of the field, well within Robbie's distance. The decision is not anything that I regret. I regret that I have to take accountability that it didn't … I don't regret that I have to take accountability for it, but I do. I made the decision to do it on second down and 7, and we didn't get it done.
YOU'VE BEEN GLASS-HALF-FULL AND FEARLESS. WHAT LED YOU TO GIVE CREDENCE TO WHAT COULD HAVE GONE WRONG?
Because the ball was in the middle of the field was really the biggest reason. Not to have it on … the next rush could have put it on the hash mark and you want to kick it on 3rd down. That could have happened. It would have been hard not to get it exactly where we had it there. That was the reason. We were clearly in range. It was that kind of game. And for a number of different reasons — you saw the game was unique on a number of levels. And I just felt that that was a good time and place. Clearly within range, in the middle of the field. Good operations. And we didn't get it done.
ROBBIE'S 40-49 RANGE IS HIS WEAKEST. FROM YOUR ANALYTIC STANDPOINT, DO YOU LOOK AT THAT?
I didn't do it from an analytics standpoint. I did it from having been around Robbie the entire year and knowing how he kicks the ball and watching him kick in practice. I had no doubt that he was going to make the kick. You could say that about any kick. But there wasn't analytics involved as much as there was, we're clearly in his range. We're in the middle of the field. We don't know what's going to happen on the next play but it has a chance of not being in the middle of the field. I thought that was well worth the risk.
WHEN YOU TOOK A TIMEOUT BEFORE THE KICK, WAS THAT BECAUSE OF CONFUSION ON THE FIELD?
There was no confusion on the field. Robbie was still kicking over there and I wanted to give him time to finish what he was doing and be able to run out on the field without having an issue. And that's why we did it.
YOU GO FOR IT ON FOURTH A LOT! SO WHY CHANGE?
I don't think that you can use any game as a determining factor, why we make decisions in the existing game. I think every game … every decision to do the things that we do, are based on this game. So I didn't call on other experiences in other weeks, other than to make the decision that was best for our team yesterday.
ON FOURTH-AND-11, A COUPLE GUYS SAID THE VIKING WENT ON QUICK SNAP.
We were all set. James was making a call. He was on the line of scrimmage and he got off really just a click late. And we had the right play on. We just execute it.
ANDERSON DIDN'T APPEAR TO BE READY FOR THE SNAP ON HIS BLITZ ON 4TH-AND-11 PLAY: DID THE TIMING MESS WITH THE PLAY?
Just slightly. Another click and we would have gotten off just a split-second quicker, Cassel would not have been able to deliver that ball. He made an incredible play, if you look at it on the coach's copy, James was running right at him. He threw it around James; he could not have seen the throw, could not have seen the receiver, and the receiver ran right through the ball on the hash mark and made the play. It was a very good play by him and, again, we were just, they were in a quick snap and they got it off and we were just a hair late getting to the quarterback. He went to the quarterback untouched, it would have been like blocking a kick.
IS THE PLACEMENT OF THE BALL REALLY THAT BIG OF A DEAL FOR A KICKER INDOORS?
Well, I think that you want to be in the middle whenever you can. That was something that I wanted to be able to do for him is give him the ball in the middle.
WAS ROBBIE INVOLVED IN DISCUSSION? HE BARELY SLEPT BECAUSE OF THE BIRTH OF HIS KID.
Robbie's a professional and we all certainly have things going on in our lives. There's certainly nothing more important than having a child the day before, but I didn't take that into consideration. He's a veteran, he's been doing this a long time. I didn't have any question that he would be able to make that kick.
DID YOU ASK HIM WHERE HE WANTED THE BALL, LEFT, RIGHT?
We talk about it all the time during the week, and ideally you want the ball in the middle of the field and that's where he had it.
HOW DOES FG TAKEN OFF THE BOARD FOR THE VIKING FACTOR INTO YOUR THINKING?
Like I said, probably the biggest reason is that again that we kicked it when we kicked it because the ball was perfectly placed to kick the ball through the middle. There's no guarantee what we would have done on second down, there's no guarantee. We decided that we were in range and were going to make that kick. Because it didn't work, we're all asking those questions and I totally understand that and I accept that. But as I look back on it, where the ball was, watching Robbie kick all the weeks I've watched him kick, there was no question in my mind that we were going to finish the game right there.
OFFENSE GAINING MORE YARDS BUT SCORING LESS POINTS WITH JOSH; IS THAT WHAT'S MISSING WITHOUT JAY?
No, I think that it's a collective effort by everybody. It wasn't Josh's fault that we didn't convert on third-and-1 yesterday.
BUT IS THAT THE RESULT OF JAY BEING OUT?
I don't think I would answer it, an answer like that, that you propose, quite frankly would be the answer to the question. We're just not doing things collectively to get it done from that standpoint. You'd have to go play-by-play specific to be able to make an analysis like that and I don't think you could based on the things that Josh is doing on the field at the present time.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU SECOND GUESS YOURSELF?
A lot. I do it a lot afterwards because I want to be perfect for the guys. And when things don't work, I hold myself accountable for it because I'm making every decision in the best interest. So it can be, it's a lot from a standpoint when things don't work. I go through the thought process and the only way to do things is to try to be perfect, which is impossible, so when they don't come out the way you want them to … second guessing is kind of the wrong term I would use, but you do look back and ask yourself: ‘what other options did I have and would they have worked better under the circumstances?
AND THIS DOESN'T BRING YOU TO THAT?
It does not. It really does not.
HOW MUCH IS LACK OF RUN DEFENSE RESULT OF YOUNG LBs?
Yeah, I think we're growing in the right direction. We got better this week than we were a week ago. We're not going to make excuses for them being young or being first-year players. We're seeing growth from the standpoint that we think our young guys can really have good careers here and be productive players. It takes everybody around them to get that done, not just them, and that's our feelings toward them right now, that they're a work in progress, but they are growing on a weekly basis and playing better. Both of them played better this week than they did the week before and they were in the right place. We were in the right place a lot more this week doing a lot of the right things. We played a good offensive line, and we played a great running back who's very, very difficult to contain. We didn't make every tackle in the hole that we wanted to, but we were in the right position to do it, we just didn't get it done, and that's a plus.
HOW DO YOU WORK ON TACKLING AT THIS POINT?
We can do tackling drills, certainly in practice, and that's how everybody does it, there's no other way to get it done.
WHAT WAS THE THOUGHT PROCESS TO GO FOR THE 66-YARD FG?
That was a possibility. We thought we'd take a shot at it. The downside of it was we left Patterson hanging out there. We knew that. It's a one-time deal in the dome and our guys did a very good job. They had to do a great job of covering because that was the downside of doing it certainly. We did a great job of covering the kick. We got away with taking a shot at something that was on the edge. It was worthwhile in the dome to let it go.
DID ROBBIE SAY THAT WAS WITHIN HIS RANGE?
I think Robbie felt that he feels he can make any kick. He went after it. And came close. The coverage team came into play there.
HOW DID RATLIFF PLAY?
I thought he played well. We had him at 20-something snaps. We stayed true to that. I heard him come off a couple of times and say, ‘Let me stay in my rhythm.' He felt he was mixing it up in there. So we felt pretty good that he'll be able to play much longer this week.
WHY DOES YOUR O-LINE BLOCK SO WELL UNTIL THERE'S ONE YARD TO GO?
It's a good question. We haven't connected all five guys haven't connected in putting together the proper step and footwork and angles — I'm not going to pin it down to one guy, because nobody in that room would want me to do that. But we really have to ... everybody's got to be working in the same direction on these short-yardage plays and we've taken turns in not getting that done. And that's something we have to get better at. It's difficult to do in practice. We try to simulate that as much as we can with cards and walk-throughs. We just haven't been able to take it to the game on a consistent basis, particularly lately. And that's got to be a point of emphasis, because we've got to be able to run the ball on third-and-one and make first downs.
IF IT'S LIKE THIS NOW, CAN IT STILL GET BETTER IN 2013?
I definitely think it's correctAble and it can get better. Without a doubt.
DID YOU GET WHAT YOU WANTED OUT OF STELTZ?
I felt we got a heck of a performance out of Craig. He was in the line of scrimmage. He played in the box well. He wasn't perfect — none of us were. But he really played well and had a good performance. Looking at the tape last night on the plane, I thought he played well.
WHAT WAS YOUR MESSAGE TO THE TEAM?
I thought I got to that — I'll say it again. My message to the team was, ‘In the National Football League, all we can control is what we can control and that is we have a game on Monday night against the Cowboys and we've got to be prepared each and every day to win the game. We can't be looking ahead. We can't be hearing the voices that are telling us anything other than that. I think it's good for us to be playing on Monday Night. I think it's a good carrot for us this week in terms of playing a game and being at home, Soldier Field, on Monday night. I think that'll be good for our football team. And that's all we can control. We can't worry about all the other things that are going on. There's a whole lot of football to be played. We show signs. I feel like — I've said this before — we show signs of having enough to finish, to playing offensive well enough to finish, to doing things we need to get done. And we've shown that periodically. We've shown signs of that. We've won games like that. But we haven't done it obviously on a consistent basis over the last month. And the month isn't over yet. It's just begun. So we've got to start on Monday night and do that. That was the message. Let's worry about what we can control and that's being at our best on Monday night against the Cowboys.
HOW LONG WILL YOU CONTINUE THE Eben Britton STRATEGY?
We've kind of fallen into that. We really fell into it because of Martellus' injury early on and it's worked out well for us. It's allowed us to be very productive. I think it's all about the people that you have and what you can do. We're really not in a position to have anybody else who can block to the extent that Martellus can and ... we've been able to do with Eben. Is it a staple? It's a staple now. Will it be a staple in the future? That remains to be seen. It's a product of who are personnel will be as we move along through the year and next year.
AFTER DEVIN'S KO RETURN WITH 14 SECONDS LEFT, WAS THE HOPE TO USE YOUR TIMEOUTS AND RUN TWO PLAYS AND GET A CHANCE FOR A FG?
Absolutely. We just didn't get it done. I hold myself accountable. I think we could have done a better job there of getting it done. We didn't do it. Those are the things — you ask the things you look back on, could we have done a better job there? I think I could have done a better job?
I haven't just been sitting around all offseason. Well … my offseason. I've been working really hard. And now I'm out there. It was good to kind of get my feet wet yesterday. And it was monitored reps, about 20 plays or so. And I came out good. Felt pretty good. Knocked some of the rust off. And now I know exactly what I need to work on. And there are no days off here. I'll be working tomorrow.
It went OK. For the first game, I mean, it was kind of to be expected. First time in pads in over a year now, since Nov. 18 of last year. So it was a good start. There's nothing else to do from here but build.
MORE REPS VS. DALLAS?
I believe so. Yes.
BRUTAL LOSS. NOW WHAT?
Resiliency. Just keep moving forward. You look it as a minor setback. We're a .500 team right now. You can look at that and kind of gloat over it and feel like just doomed. But I don't believe this team is going to do that. And neither am I. We're just going to keep in grinding.
Matt Cassel BETTER THAN PONDER?
Nah. We're not going to sit here and make any excuses at all. They're a good football team and they won fair and square. They just beat us. So there's nothing to do now but just look at the things we need to work on. Run fits and better tackling and get better.
HOW DO YOU ERADICATE THE AGITATION?
This is football. So after a loss you have 6-7 days to wait before you play again. And there's nothing else to do but just work. That's why we watch film. We see the things that we need to work on. And if you've got anything to you, you're going to look at it and you're going to do everything in your power to fix it.
IS AP THAT GREAT OR ARE YOU GUYS JUST BAD AGAINST THE RUN?
There are things we all have to work on and Adrian Peterson, I mean, is a great back. So my hats off to him. Much respect. But we know what we have to do and we're going to do it.
THOUGHTS ON COWBOYS GAME
It's just another game. It's just football. I don't get caught up in all that silly rivalry stuff or some payback. The thing is we're here to win and we're going to give every effort to do that.
WILL IT BE WEIRD?
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his third season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.