General manager Ryan Pace spoke with Jeff Joniak Sunday on the Bears pregame radio show on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM and 105.9 FM. The following is a transcript of Pace's comments:
On personnel decisions that were made and makeup of 2021 team:
"Every offseason there's a lot of decisions that we make as a team and every offseason there's different unique challenges that present themselves. We feel like we've got a really good mix of youth and veteran talent on this team. You look at the Akiem Hickses, Khalil Macks, Jimmy Grahams, to the Roquan Smiths, Jaylon Johnsons and Cole Kmets, there's just a good mix of talent, and at this stage we're just excited to see it all come together tonight."
On what Bears are getting in starting quarterback Andy Dalton:
"Really, Andy has been a true pro and he's showed his experience from the moment that he walked in the door. As a veteran quarterback, he's won a lot of games in this league, and it's just very encouraging to see how quickly he's picked up the offense from Matt [Nagy] and from coach [Bill] Lazor. We've constantly felt [Dalton's] leadership and the different intangibles that he brings. There's no better time for those traits to shine [than] tonight—on the road, in a loud environment against a tough opponent."
On expectations for the running game:
"We feel really good about that running back room in general. As [David Montgomery] enters Year 3, we just feel he's set up for a strong season. You look at his work ethic; the approach that he's had this offseason has been outstanding. Just very proud of him when you say his name. We've also added Damien Williams to the room and the talent and experience that he brings, along with Khalil Herbert. We already feel the excitement in our building from him. I just think collectively as a running back room, it just gets you fired up. I also think it's worth mentioning the new running backs coach, Michael Pitre. He's done a great job already. He's been a big-time addition to our staff. I think a lot of success the running backs are going to have this season can be credited to him as well."
On how much he and Nagy discussed Nagy calling plays this season and whether Nagy is better suited to run what he wants to run with personnel he's been given:
"We talk about us making decisions collectively as a staff and coaches and scouts and how important that is. Any player we add on our offense, defense, special teams, it's carefully discussed and [we] make sure they accentuate what we do from a schematic standpoint. So it's coach Nagy, it's coach Lazor, it's coach [Sean] Desai, it's coach [Chris] Tabor. The personnel that they have at their disposal, it's there to help them accentuate their schemes, and that's collectively planned by us."
On defensive players being tired of hearing how well the 2018 unit played and wanting to create their own legacy:
"I feel that. Every year it's a reset and we emphasize that: It doesn't matter what's happened in the past. There's a lot of new players on that side of the ball over the last couple years along with coach Desai as the defensive coordinator, and now it's about our 2021 defensive identity. Every season it's about re-establishing yourself, and it starts tonight."
On expectations for Bears this season:
"I just think calm and confident. That comes with us being in our fourth season, Matt and I. We know and anticipate that every year there's going to be ebbs and flows. It's that way for every team. I think the teams that handle that the best, the ebbs and flows of an NFL season, are usually the teams that are playing for something meaningful at the end of the year. That's always our goal, and that's our goal this year."
On Rams receiver Cooper Kupp:
"We have a lot of respect for Cooper Kupp, always have. He's extremely instinctive. Slot receiver. He's been really productive in their offense. He led them in third-down targets last year because of that skillset that he has. This guy just knows how to separate, he consistently gets open. He's got a really good feel for their offense; just a very good player on a very talented offense."