General manager Ryan Pace spoke with Jeff Joniak Sunday morning 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 the Bears being 4-1 without having played their best football:
"Part of it, I think, is just the unusual season we're in—no offseason, no training camp. We knew there'd be a process and some buildup. We're happy we're 4-1, but I think we're also self-aware enough to know we can be playing a lot better. For us and for me, just very optimistic in our coaches and our players and their mindset. And we'll continue to take the necessary steps to get better and improve our performance as we go on."
On the Bears' response and adjustment following their first player testing positive for COVID-19, practice squad offensive lineman Badara Traore:
"We always said we're not going to be naïve enough to think that a positive COVID [test] is not going to happen in our building. It's almost inevitable. It could happen again. But hopefully, and what was the case with this case, is that we can isolate it. And we're doing everything at Halas Hall to make sure we're doing that. Really, it's a commitment from top down for us, just going above and beyond with our full approach to this. I know Matt [Nagy] talked about it this week, but us taking two airplanes, 12 buses on road trips, the extra space that we have on our campus thanks to our ownership and the investment they made to double our square footage a little over a year ago. we've just got to keep on maximizing this plan, keeping everyone safe and healthy. The other thing is adapting and adjusting along the way. We've said from the very beginning this is the year of the unexpected. The teams that deal with this the best ultimately will have the most success, and I think it starts with Matt. It's a big credit to him because he hasn't blinked during all of this, and that's reflective on our players and how they operate with it."
On how Nagy views the Bears and how he has dealt with expectations of him and the offense in his third season as coach:
"Matt and I sat together after last season and we talked about what went wrong, and we talked about doing everything we can to never be in that position again. And we challenged ourselves to never let this slip or get complacent, especially with the details, and then just to continue to surround ourselves with players and staff that are truly obsessed and doing whatever it takes for us to be a championship team—and calling it out whenever we sense that those details or that obsessive attitude to be great isn't where we want it. We both have high expectations, and one of the things I respect most about Matt is that he holds our team to a very high standard and he refuses to let that slip."
On losing left guard James Daniels to a season-ending injury:
"He was playing really well. He was really progressing. He's still a young player, but hopefully he'll recover from this. We're confident in that. and then last week to have Alex Bars step in, he settled in and played well in that win, and then of course we have Rashaad [Coward]. They're both good players. I think it speaks to our depth. What we really like about Rashaad, especially with his background [as a converted defensive end], is just the temperament that he plays with."
On Panthers coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady:
"With coach Rhule, he brings NFL experience [as a Giants assistant in 2012] and then obviously the successful college experience that he's had. Meeting him briefly in person, coach Rhule, he's got a really cool personality. You can see why players play so hard for him and why he's been successful. And then, of course, I've been hearing stories about Joe Brady in his days as a quality control coach in New Orleans for a while. You see him go to LSU and have that immediate success as a coordinator. Just a bright and very creative offensive mind with a really bright future in the NFL. Carolina has a lot of talent, but I think with coach Rhule and coach Brady, you see them finding ways to maximize it."
On Panthers defensive lineman Derrick Brown:
"This is a very important player for them, a rookie first-round pick. He has a rare combination of size and athletic ability. He's a really strong run defender. He can anchor down in there. He's difficult to move. He has a lot of upside as a pass rusher I think you'll see as he gains experience. But, overall, this guy plays with a lot of natural power and strength. He's someone we really liked coming out, so it'll be a challenge to block him today."