HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
It's hard winning football games when you can't finish. Just kind of get into the core of it right away. Defensively whenever you give up that many yards rushing, the quarterback -- you've got to be able to control him a lot better than that.
We haven't given up a whole lot of big explosive plays until today, but those runs really did hurt us, starting off with the reverse and starting the second half off, that really hurt us. Whenever a team is able to rush the ball for that many, it's just going to be a tough day.
Took the ball away. Pitre did a good job, big sack, a couple interceptions, which was of course good for him, but -- Hughes I think had a couple sacks, but just up front we didn't play well.
Defensively we could talk the rest of the day about what we didn't do with it except take the ball away a few times. Offensively same thing, can't turn the ball over. You definitely can't have a turnover in the end zone. That really hurt us. Of course the last one did, too. But Dameon Pierce is always going to do some good things that we like, but overall offensively couldn't sustain enough drives. We had our opportunities.
Special teams-wise, Des King, that was a big return that really helped us a lot, but overall just not a good day. Didn't look like we were a good football team out there today. We played a lot better than what we played today.
I'll take your questions.
Why do you think Davis Mills is struggling there in the fourth quarter?
It's like everybody else, we're just not quite there yet. I wish I could tell you exactly -- if I could tell you exactly why, I would tell you. I would tell him not to do it. But things just didn't go. Got to make better decisions, got to protect the ball. That's something we have done is we haven't turned it over an awful lot. Today wasn't that day, though.
You were having a lot of success with fullbacks early. After Pierce fumbled twice, after the second time, was there kind of a lack of trust in him the rest of the game?
No, we came back to him later on. It doesn't -- whenever you put the ball on the ground, it's not a good thing, but we're not going to stop playing Dameon just based on that. Just got to protect the ball better like everybody else.
On the interception, the second one, what did you see? Is that an older pro Roquan Smith reading the quarterback well?
That's what you've got to say right now. I'll have a lot better look at it later on, but that's a critical situation. That's a time when you cannot have a turnover down in that area, and it's pretty much over if you do.
Can't let games come down to one play there. I'm more upset about that interception in the end zone first, but when you get down there, you've got to be able to capitalize with a touchdown.
Just to clarify, Dameon Pierce wasn't taken out because of the fumble?
No. I mean, when I say taken out, we have a rotation with Dameon. Dameon is our tailback; he can't fumble the ball in that situation.
What's the level of frustration when you guys have been close enough to win games and you haven't played (indiscernible)?
I mean, looking at the glass half full, that's what you would say. But the other way of looking at it is that when you're that close, you've got to be able to finish. The opportunities that we're talking -- we're not talking about outstanding great plays that we have to make. They, of course, protect the football and don't give up some big plays at the end. Going in, starting the second half, get a field goal. Then to let them go right back down and let them take the lead like that. Some of these things we can clean up. Our tackling just wasn't good enough today, too. Once you don't tackle well and you give up some big plays, it's going to be a tough day.
How do you reconcile, you were able to put a lot of pressure on Justin but they obviously ran for a lot of yards. The tackling, is that where you see --
I think tackling is some of it, but there's discipline that goes along with containing the quarterback when he's passing. There's discipline that goes along with maintaining good gap integrity, and we didn't do that at times.
Normally when you see a big play, there is a bust or somebody just not trusting the defense and assuming that they have to do somebody else's job, too. That's what was happening a little bit today.
To not capitalize scoring off of Pitre's interceptions, what does that mean to the team and how does the offense respond whenever they know they're getting an extra possession there?
Well, I talked about what the defense needs to do, too many missed tackles, can't give up the big explosive plays, all that. Offensively when we do take the ball away, when there is a positive play from the defense, it doesn't do any good to take the ball away if you don't get points off of it. It's about that. Take the ball away, you need to be able to get points off of it.
We had favorable field position a few times with that.
With the fourth quarter offensively, the last couple of games those have been some struggles. What so far with your conversations with Pep is leading to some of those issues you might have seen today?
Well, it's just not one, it's just not the fourth. A lot of times it comes down to the fourth, and we didn't make some plays there at the end, but we're talking about total body of work, where we're in a position where everything is not on the line at the end of it. This is much that as it is just the fourth quarter.
As we look through each play, each series that stalled, there's something major seemed like that we did.
Was it at all a surprise that you weren't able to contain the Bears' rushing attack today?
Is it a surprise we gave up that many yards? Absolutely. That's not how we've played. One thing for a couple of -- the first wave of defense, but the big chunk plays, one over 50, where they had two plays that were almost 100 yards. You can't do that. We're not set up that way. We don't play zero coverage. We should have a last line of defense, a safety in the middle of the field.
So a lot of things have to happen wrong for them to be able to get some of those plays.
They have a good backup in Cleo Herbert but for a standout running back like David Montgomery to go out that early and for them still to get that many yards, does that sting a little bit more?
I can't say it stings any more. It stings no matter who is carrying it from their side. It stings. Especially on plays where almost uncontested a little bit where we did something wrong. We missed some tackles, but most times with the tackles you're going to get them down for a minimum gain. Those big explosive plays, that's what you just can't win football games if you do that.
It seemed like Mills had a lot of tight windows. That end zone interception to Cooks was tight there. What did you see about how they played you guys defensively?
Oh, there's tight windows sometimes in man coverage, different coverages, but through the course of a game, there's not going to always be tight windows. We had an opportunity. Just got to be able to capitalize on those when it's not a tight window and we have an opportunity to make a play. Got to make better decisions.
You stressed Davis' turnovers. Overall otherwise did he play well enough today?
I can't say that anybody played well enough today. It's just hard initially after the game to say -- when you lose, to say that somebody played well, because if you're playing -- there's normally a play out there that someone could do that could have changed the outcome. Right now as a team we're going to take this loss. Give the Bears credit; they earned it. Got to make more plays than that, though.
I know it would be better with a win, but is it still fun for you to come back to Chicago and coach NFL football at Soldier Field?
It's fun for me to coach football, period. Chicago, I know I have a history here, but I have more fun when we're at home in Houston.
Those days are long gone. Today, we needed to get a win, and it was about us getting that first win today, and we weren't able to get it. Simple as that.
QB DAVIS MILLS
The last interception, what did you see? What was the play? What were you trying to do?
It's tough. We talked about it a lot, tipped balls never touch the ground. Got through my progression, made the correct read, had Rex open and the ball got tipped at the line. Nothing I could really do about it there. Good play by the defense. Just unfortunate down in the red zone, too.
Turned the ball over, and with an opportunity we could go down and score a touchdown. At this point we've got to take advantage of all those opportunities, scoring touchdowns and kicking field goals and turning the ball over. It's tough.
What do you think has been the issue in particular in the fourth quarter?
I mean, today I thought we were moving the ball efficiently. Converted on a long 3rd down, deep in the red zone, tried to start a drive, and then kind of just got shut down.
I think it's going to be good to see on film. I thought most of the game we moved the ball well as an offense. Like I said, we've got to continue trying to get touchdowns once we get down there rather than kicking field goals. It's a different game in that regard if we do that. Otherwise we've just got to keep pushing forward, doing our own stuff and executing.
When you're facing a long field late in the game, are you noticing how defenses approach you?
Somewhat. I mean, obviously they're trying to play conservative and trying to slow us down. I think the biggest thing for us is just trying to find completions and getting that first 1st down and getting the drive started.
Davis, the first interception, what did you see there?
I mean, Brandin was the primary there. It was tight coverage by the defense. He made a good play on it and tipped the ball up, and their safety ended up finding a way to get back in the play and pick it off.
Going forward and learning from the last few games, do you try to do something differently?
Just execute at a high level. I don't think at this point we're a team where we can come back from a lot of mistakes if we make them. We've just got to execute at a high level from the start, start fast and finish and just really do our thing.
I think winning is learned, and we've got to feel that as a locker room, try to play a full game and really start building some momentum. I mean, we've still got a long season ahead of us, and we're ready for it, we've just got to take it one week at a time.
The first few games there's been opportunities in the fourth quarter to put the game away or get the W and then the offense for whatever reason can't get it done. What's been the biggest issues in those critical moments?
Just executing. I thought today we were moving the ball well. Had a tough situation, got called for a penalty, backed us up a little bit and kind of killed the drive. So I guess shooting ourselves in the foot. Really that last drive, I thought we were all confident that we were going to move the ball down the field and go down and either kick a field goal to win it or score a touchdown. That defender made a good play at the line of scrimmage to tip it and they got the turnover. Tough one today.
To have those interceptions and then coming immediately on the field, what were kind of the plans there, trying to put -- how did you all approach that?
Yeah, our defense is playing well. To create those turnovers, we're aggressive on offense. We want to come and take advantage of those opportunities and score touchdowns in those situations so we can keep putting points on the board.
I know you're a pretty even-keel guy, but that's three games you feel like you could have won. How frustrating is it personally to not get over that hump so far?
It's definitely frustrating. The guys, we all know it. We've been really close in all these games and we're confident in our abilities. We've just got to find a way late in those games to switch the result and get wins, and I think once we start doing that and start building momentum, there will be a big change around here.
You say that winning is learned; what do you learn from not being able to finish this one?
I mean, I think there's tough situations, you've got to find a way to do whatever it takes to win those games. We haven't done that yet, but we're really capable of it, and I think once I said -- momentum is a real thing in this sport. Once we start building momentum, I think it's going to be a different thing.
How much responsibility do you feel like you bear in what's happened in the fourth quarter, and then how are you internalizing that personally?
Yeah, I'll take responsibility for it. Obviously turning the ball over late in the game when we needed it, that's the quarterback's job is to be able to protect the football and start building drives and moving us down the field to put ourselves in a position to win the games. So I'll take responsibility for it.
I thought overall we played well today. It's just a tough result.
DL JERRY HUGHES
Jerry, for the defense, what was the most disappointing thing as far as stopping the run today?
We didn't execute it, honestly. You've got to tip your hat to the Bears. They had a plan. They came out and executed up front. We weren't good enough today. Coach told us all week you've got to come in here and make these guys a one-dimensional team. Our secondary played great, but up front we've got to do exactly what the coach asks of us, to come in here, plug that run. We know it's going to be a physical game. We were prepped for it all week. We've got to come out here and just execute.
Typically it's unusual to see a team put as much pressure on the quarterback as you guys were able to and still not be able to stop the run. Is that an assignment thing? What's the reason when you're able to control the line of scrimmage in certain situations but not in others?
Yeah, we've just got to be disciplined. We've got to understand how our opponent is going to attack us. 1st down they were heavy run, so we've just got to understand that up front and play a lot smarter with our hands, getting off of blocks so we can help out our linebackers and secondary and guys on the back end. They played tremendous. They had two picks. We've just got to do a better job up front of just knocking out that run, making teams one-dimensional. If you don't do that, it's going to be a day like this.
What within the scheme that you guys aren't executing the way you need to in terms of stopping the run?
Technique. We've got to use our hands. We've got to be in our gaps. In this league you can't arm tackle guys. Running backs are way too strong. They're way too powerful. For us it's just about being gap disciplined, knowing how we're going to be attacked, pre-snap, getting a little bit of intel, and then just executing whatever Coach Lovie calls, not worrying about the ins and outs or whatever little nuances that might be there on the field. Whatever Lovie calls, we're going to go out there and execute it.
When you say you all wanted to make them one-dimensional, you wanted them to pass it more?
Correct, yeah. We know coming into anybody's place, it's going to be a physical ballgame. Anytime you can make a team one-dimensional by taking away one of their weapons, whether it be their run game, because our secondary played phenomenal. I think they had two picks. I don't know how many pass attempts Fields had in the second half, but it was clear that they were going to lean on that run game.
We've got to pick that up, especially at halftime, how a team is attacking us. We've got to understand that up front so we can play more physical, use our hands, use our technique. Everything that our D-line coach and Coach Lovie has been working with us in training camp until now, we've got to use that even as the game gets late.
You guys were right there in the fourth quarter, had leads the last two games, tied this week. When you don't win it can bring in doubt; when you do win, it builds confidence. What's the mentality of this team now going forward?
Right now, we're battle tested. We understand that we're going to come in here for any game for four quarters, and we're going to fight. It's just about finishing, especially in the later quarters, second half.
We're a very young team, but you've got to kind of have some sense of how teams are attacking you and really listening to what our coaches are saying at halftime because they're just gathering information from the first half so we can go out there and play faster.
I think once we understand how to use our tools, especially at halftime so we can make the right adjustments and come out, we'll be able to finish games a lot better.
What did you think of Pitre today?
Oh, he was phenomenal. Young guy, he's making great plays for us. I know he wanted to get up and score, but two big picks to kind of keep our offense in scoring territory, that's what you want as a secondary.