Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi and special teams coordinator Richard Hightower spoke to the media Thursday at Halas Hall. Here are four things we learned from those sessions:
(1) Getsy couldn't be happier about the impact that receiver DJ Moore has made on and off the field in his first season with the Bears.
Acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Panthers last March, Moore leads the Bears in all receiving categories with 92 receptions for 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns. The sixth-year pro already has established career highs in yards and TDs and needs two receptions during Sunday's season finale in Green Bay to eclipse his personal high of 93 catches set in 2021 when he played for Carolina.
"We're obviously grateful to have him," Getsy said. "He's come in here and set a really cool standard of work ethic and mentality and what kind of teammate you hope everybody in the room is. You're setting a culture and he's definitely a culture driver. We're really appreciative of not just the player he is; the player is going to help you win games, but the man that he is has been really cool to help make this place a better place."
Moore's versatility and knowledge of the game has enabled Getsy to expand the playbook.
"Experience, football IQ, all that stuff lets you be as flexible as you can," Getsy said. "And in my time in the NFL, what I've found to be the secret sauce is the flexibility of players and how much they can do, how many different things they can do to put stress on the defense. As many different things that can look the same but end up being different, you end up having some success that way, and DJ allows us to do that."
(2) Getsy credited coach Matt Eberflus with helping the Bears rebound from a 2-7 start to win five of their last seven games.
The team has made major strides on both sides of the ball; the offense has scored at least 26 points in four of its last six outings and the defense leads the NFL in interceptions and rushing yards allowed.
"It's been a fun journey," Getsy said. "We've experienced a lot of different things. But the coolest part about it is the foundation that 'Flus' has set within our entire organization. We all lean on that. That's our foundation. We all fall back to that. Every time there's any type of challenge, I think everybody is falling back to that.
"We stick together. The coolest part is that any time there was any type of adversity, this team just kept getting closer and closer together. I think that's been a huge key to why we're able to continue to grow and go where we want to go and be sustainable."
The Bears were back on the practice fields at Halas Hall as they continue preparing to close out the 2023 season against the Packers in Green Bay.
Edwards leads the defense with 143 tackles and two fumble recoveries and has compiled eight tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and seven pass breakups. Edmunds ranks second with 104 tackles and has produced five tackles-for-loss, seven pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Both linebackers have established career highs in interceptions, with Edmunds registering four and Edwards recording three.
"You could kind of see it from when they got here just how competitive they are," Borgonzi said. "You could see it from OTAs to training camp, just how they attacked the day every day. This is going back from April and May when we first got together for the offseason.
"It's been pretty consistent throughout the whole season, just their love and passion to play the game, and I think it carries over to Sunday; how they prepare really affects how they play on Sunday, and the way they prepare is unbelievable. It kind of rubs off on the rest of the group and it's been such a positive impact not just for obviously the play on the field, but the guys around them as well."
Borgonzi was asked whether he felt that Edwards should have been selected to the Pro Bowl. The linebackers chosen for the NFC squad were Fred Warner (49ers), Bobby Wagner (Seahawks), Micah Parsons (Cowboys), Danielle Hunter (Vikings) and Haason Reddick (Eagles).
"I'll say this, if I had to go into a game, I would pick T.J, I'd pick our two guys," Borgonzi said. "I think we have two of the better linebackers in the league. T.J. has put up really good numbers, although I'll say this: It's a competitive league and there's a lot of good linebackers. His numbers are pretty impressive this year, what he's been able to do with the interceptions, the amount of tackles he's had and the TFLs. Hasn't missed a game and he's been productive every game he's been in."
*4) Hightower applauded the hustle and effort his players showed last Sunday in preventing the Falcons from returning a missed field goal for a touchdown. *
On the final play of the first half, Cairo Santos' 55-yard field goal attempt came up short and was caught by Atlanta's Dee Alford nine yards deep in the end zone.
Bringing the ball out, Alford ran to his right before reversing field to his left and picking up a convoy of blockers. He was eventually tackled by Robert Tonyan at the Bears' 13 after a 96-yard return. Lucas Patrick was also in hot pursuit of the speedy defensive back.
"That is a special teams coach's worst nightmare," Hightower said. "My heart rate was as bad as you could have one …
"I just want to credit Atlanta. It was an opportunity for them to make a big play. But the real credit goes to the guys in our room. I just left the field goal meeting and I'll tell you exactly what I told them: I appreciate the effort on that play. I appreciate the desire on that play. I appreciate each one of them fighting for each other to make that play what they made it, because no one quit on that play. Nobody gave up. Everybody understood what was at stake. They all know we have to cover."
Hightower described the field goal attempt as a "monster kick," i.e., one at the end of a half that has a smaller chance of being made and possibly could be returned.
"That's a tough situation for seven or eight 300-pound men to be chasing the best athlete on the field," Hightower said. "But that's the risk/reward in monster kicks. I know they were tired as hell when they got in that locker room because I could see it. I also thought that moment brought our team together because that's a situation we practiced every single week. I can't say enough about the guys in our room recognizing the situation and fighting like hell for each other to get that guy down."