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Pace talks Bears prior to Vikings game


General manager Ryan Pace spoke with Jeff Joniak Monday 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 coach Matt Nagy handing over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor:

"When I look at it, we always talk about solution-based mindsets, and this is a prime example of that in just doing whatever's best for the team, and I think that's what went into Matt's decision."

On what his conversations were like with Matt Nagy regarding the decision:

"Our conversations were more just out of support and just thinking through the process and what's best for our team, and that's what he chose."

On whether he was surprised by the decision:

"I'm not surprised by Matt's humility. We've talked about that before. He's going to do whatever it takes to help our team win, and to do this is just an example of that."

On expectations with Lazor calling plays:

"We have a ton of confidence in him, and I think that's part of what went into this decision. He's extremely intelligent. His attention to detail is awesome. He's very thorough in everything he does. And this isn't new to him. He's called plays before, so I think he's up for it and he's excited for it."

On whether a different voice could jump-start the offense:

"I look at it more like the benefits in regards to what it allows Matt to do as a head coach: I know he's talked about it this week, but just the details of overseeing all three phases and things that come up with game situations and situational football and just a lot of the responsibilities that come with being a head coach. I'm excited to see him more in that role."

On having five of final seven games against NFC North opponents:

"We've talked about it. Obviously, tonight's an important divisional game. We've played nine games, only one game in our division. Tonight starts three division games in a row, so it's huge. It's significant for us. And we're in complete control of what's in front of us."

On facing Vikings without injured running back David Montgomery:

"Obviously, David's still in the concussion protocol and we're fortunate that we have our bye, not just for him to get healthy but a handful of other guys. I think our bye comes at a really good time this year. [Other running backs] CP (Cordarrelle Patterson), [Ryan] Nall, [Artavis] Pierce, Lamar Miller, they're all different. They're all going to have an opportunity, and we're all just as evaluators, we're really excited to see these guys get a chance."

On few NFL linebackers playing better than Roquan Smith:

"I would agree. I think he's playing at an elite level. He's flying around. Everything that we envisioned with him coming out, you're just so proud of him. But I put Danny Trevathan in the same category, the way he's playing. Those two guys, I don't know if there's a better pair in the league right now the way they're playing; just instinctive, downhill, physical, making plays. They're a fun unit to watch."

On rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson continuing to excel and on the verge of making a big play:

"There are different things. First of all, you just watch tape and you watch him play, he's playing at a high level. I thought he tackled really well last game, and then statistically you look at the analytics, just his amount of pass breakups is really, really good when you look at him compared to other guys in the league. But I agree with you, the interceptions, the turnovers, those are coming. But it comes with his preparation. No different than Kyle Fuller. The amount of time they put in in preparing for the opponent, I think that's what you see show up on gameday."

On Vikings having a dangerous offense and young defense:

"Their defense, there are a lot of new pieces. They're young, but they're talented. I look at their defense and the two vets that continue to stand out are Eric Kendricks and Harrison Smith. Those are leaders for their team and they're playing at a high level. But then I also look at their coaching staff and we have so much respect for coach [Mike] Zimmer and his staff and getting those guys to play as a unit. To see how they started off this season and then how they've played the last two weeks is really impressive, so we've got our hands full."

On Vikings rookie receiver Justin Jefferson:

"First round pick, extremely athletic. He's got outstanding hands. He's an excellent route runner. For a rookie, his ability to separate—and it's what you saw at LSU—is outstanding. One of the things that we really loved about him coming out was his toughness to catch over the middle and take a hit. You go back and look at his college tape, on an LSU team that was loaded with talent, this guy jumped out, he really did. He's competitive; you see it in his run after catch. You see it when he's blocking. He's just a really good overall football player."