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5 things we learned from Bears coordinators


Bears coordinators Bill Lazor (offense), Chuck Pagano (defense) and Chris Tabor (special teams) all spoke to the media Tuesday in advance of Thursday night's home game against the Buccaneers. Here are five things we learned from those video interviews:

(1) This will be the 10th time that Pagano faces quarterback Tom Brady, and the Bears defensive coordinator doesn't plan to make any significant changes like he has prior to some previous meetings.

"I've overcooked it a bunch of times in the past, where we've gone in and [said], 'OK, because we're playing Tom Brady, we've got to change all our signals because he knows everything—all the verbiage, all those kind of things," Pagano said. "By the end of the week, we sit there and we say, 'Nobody knows what the hell we're talking about or what we're doing. No signals.' You end up going back to using all the stuff you've been using."

Pagano has prepared for Brady six times as a defensive assistant with the Browns (2001-04), Raiders (2005-06) and Ravens (2008-11) and three times as head coach of the Colts (2012-17). But this is the first time there will be no fans in the stands—and therefore no crowd noise.

"You try to be as discrete as possible," Pagano said. "Now, there's nobody in the stadium and everybody can hear everybody talk and say everything. And he knows. He knows what you're doing, where guys are going to be. Very seldom is he wrong. So at the end of the day, it does just come down to execution.

"He can make you look foolish because he gets them in the right play 99.9 percent of the time. Very seldom does he not do that. So it's really, really difficult. So at the end of the day, we've got to play 11 as one. Everybody's got to do their job, do it to the best of their ability, execute. They're going to make some plays. We're going to make some plays. Just kind of hang in there, keep swinging and know that he's the GOAT. He's the best that's ever played that position, statistically, whatever you want to say. It's hard."

(2) No one was more surprised than Pagano that perennial Pro Bowl outside linebacker Khalil Mack dropped a sure interception in Sunday's loss to the Colts.

Mack was all alone deep in Indianapolis territory in the first quarter when outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo hit Philip Rivers, causing the quarterback's pass to flutter high into the air. It appeared that Mack would easily make the catch, but the ball slipped through his hands.

"He's got the best ball skills on the team," Pagano said. "You watch this guy just run around. You guys watch him before practice throw and catch and do this, that and the other. That would have been the last guy [I thought would drop the ball]. I would have bet my entire salary, OK, on him making that play. I would have. If they did it again, I would bet on it again. [It was a] freak deal, one of those deals where sometimes you try so hard and it just doesn't work out. I know next time he'll take advantage of it."

(3) Lazor is learning that speedy rookie Darnell Mooney, an impressive fifth-round pick from Tulane, is more than just a deep threat.

The 5-11 Mooney soared over 6-1 Colts cornerback Xavier Rhodes to haul in a 33-yard pass from Nick Foles in Sunday's loss.

"What I take from it is Darnell's proving to us now he'll make all kinds of plays, including those contested ones where he has to go beat [defenders] to the football," Lazor said. "So the more we see about that, I think we get excited about it. This many games into it now, I guess you just have to say that's who he is. The guy came to us ready to play."

In his first four NFL games, Mooney has caught 13 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown. Only veteran Allen Robinson II has more receptions (25) and yards (331) among Bears receivers.

(4) Tabor liked what he saw from veteran Ted Ginn Jr., who replaced the injured Tarik Cohen as the Bears' punt returner against Indianapolis.

Ginn averaged 6.0 yards on three punt returns with a long of 10 yards. While the 14-year NFL veteran returned punts regularly from 2010-17 for the 49ers, Panthers, Cardinals and Saints, he hadn't returned a punt since 2017 in his first of three seasons with New Orleans.

"Ted is obviously a guy who is very well-established in this league," Tabor said. "He's done it a long time. And [it was a] windy day. [He's a] guy who has experience. [We] wanted to make sure at the end of the play that we have the football and knew that he would make good decisions. We have some other guys that are still developing that have a chance, also, for us. It was Ted's day and I thought he did a nice job for us."

(5) Tabor blamed a self-inflicted mistake by Bears blockers for the Pat O'Donnell punt that was deflected and traveled only 18 yards in the first quarter against the Colts.

"We had some mental errors there that can't happen," Tabor said. "I've got to do a better job of getting that corrected, and [I'm] glad we're playing on Thursday to try to get that taste out of our mouth."

The Bears also committed four penalties on special teams in Sunday's loss to the Colts.

"We've got to fix the problems," Tabor said. "[In the] first couple games, we did not have a lot of penalties, and these last two games we have, and that's been disappointing … We've got to get it cleaned up because this group that we're going to play Thursday night, I mean, they're really good and well-coached, so we've got our hands full."