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 rebounding from last Monday night's loss to the Rams:
"The good thing is we've been through this before on a short week. Coming off the Colts loss, we came back out and played Tampa on Thursday night and were able to win that game. So it's all about how you respond. All these games are critical; there's no time to dwell [on losses], and we have a short week to get this taste out of our mouths."
On Sam Mustipher making his first NFL start at center in place of the injured Cody Whitehair:
"We've had Sam in our building for a while now. What I like about it is he didn't blink when he went in [against the Rams]. And Sam's a guy [who has a] very high-end football IQ, has a lot of natural leadership to him. He was a captain at Notre Dame. He's got a savviness in how he plays and an instinctive feel in how he plays, so I'm excited to see him get an opportunity. It's well-deserved. He works his tail off every single day, and I'm excited for him to get this chance."
On what goes through his head when he sees the offense struggle:
"I think like any kind of adversity, you go through it and then the approach is always just possible solutions: What are the solutions? How can we be better? How can we all help? How can we all contribute? That's what goes through my head."
On whether he presents coach Matt Nagy with ideas to improve the offense:
"I think it's just him and I working together to help this team in any way we can, so our conversations are always very collaborative, they're always very honest. We're very honest with each other. They're positive, but I would say they're solution-based. So it's constantly, 'OK, what can we do to fix this?' There's always a balance between not overreacting but also doing the necessary things and the right things to get us in a better position."
On being close to making big plays on offense:
"There have been aggressive play-call moments throughout the game, and you see that. We've been close on a couple of these big-time plays. It's obviously not connecting exactly how we want it to be. There's a variety of reasons for that. It's not just one player or one thing, but we all know to win in this league, you've got to hit explosive plays. It can't just be these long painstaking drives. Sometimes you've got to hit explosive plays. We've been really, really close and we're hoping that's going to come around here tonight."
On drawing a lot of penalties, especially on defense:
"I think you've got to differentiate how they're occurring. There are certain types of penalties that you have that are difficult to digest: unsportsmanlike conduct, jumping offsides, things like that. Then there are the ones that you're just playing hard and you're playing football. It's a 'PI' call where you just get a little tangled up, and those things happen. So we've just got to differentiate how they're coming and then work hard to correct the ones that are correctable and at the same time allowing our guys to play aggressive and play hard."
On how he's approaching Tuesday's NFL trade deadline:
"We look at every avenue to improve our team. We talk about every single one of them. We owe it to ourselves to do that. It's a unique year. There are some factors that go into that. But no matter what if something makes sense and it's a fit for us for different reasons, we're definitely going to explore it."
On Saints stars Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara:
"First of all, this is a big NFC game, and I know that the Saints are a great example of a team that's built a successful culture and then they've sustained it. Mickey [Loomis], Sean [Payton], Pete Carmichael, Brees, they've been together the entire time since 2006. In this league, that's remarkable. And you look at where they are right now—I know they have some injuries at receiver—but they have a very talented roster beyond those players. Those are great players, but beyond those players they have a very talented deep roster, and then Sean does a good job adapting around that."
On Brees (who Pace worked with when they were together with the Saints):
"I could talk about Drew for an hour on this, I really could. We all know what he is as a player. His ability to process the field so fast, his accuracy, but, man, his work ethic, the type of teammate he is, the person he is. I've gotten to know so much about him off the field, too. I have so much respect for him as a football player, but even more so as a person and just a man. He's an awesome human being, he's an awesome player. [There's] nobody I respect more than him."