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 the state of the team:
"I think the bye came at a good time for us. Really, right now, I see a team that is growing and improving. A lot of our young core talent is making an increasing impact as we go forward. Especially in the last two games on offense, you're seeing some of that talent translate on the field, and now it needs to translate into wins. We've seen positives and growth from our offense, but our defense we understand needs to finish and play a complete game and that's what we're planning on doing today."
On the offense improving:
"Especially in the last game, you see what the offense is capable of, and I think with a lot of rookies, especially with the quarterback position, with more experience you see those guys getting more and more comfortable. But this Ravens defense, with [coordinator] Wink Martindale, it's going to present a lot of different challenges today, a lot of different looks, a lot of different pressures they bring, so we've got to be ready for that."
"When you talk about the growth of an offense, it's them coming together as individual players and doing their part and working together, not just in practice but behind the scenes when no one's watching. I know those guys have talked about that a lot. There are a lot of things that go on late at night or even when the coaches aren't around that they're doing to grow as teammates. And when you have young, hungry players that are truly inspired to be great and they're obsessed with the process, that's when special things can happen."
On Khalil Mack being placed on injured reserve with a foot injury:
"You know how he is and how he's built; he's so competitive. You take a conservative approach and try to back off of it and see how he responds, and unfortunately it wasn't going the direction we all needed it to go and, so, this is the next step in that process. He'll work his tail off and he'll be back better than ever, but unfortunately IR is just the route we had to go."
On signing veteran outside linebacker Bruce Irvin to the practice squad:
"I think it's a real credit to our pro [personnel] department with Josh Lucas, Champ Kelly, Jeff King, Chris White, J.J. Cosh. These guys have done a good job just exploring different scenarios and being ready. We've been communicating with Bruce Irvin for a long time and just following his rehab process with his knee and as soon as he was healthy, we wanted to be first to visit him. It timed up really well. He looked good in the workout, and that's a credit to him, too, and all the work he's put in. So, the plan with Bruce right now is start him on the practice squad, kind of get him acclimated in the right way and then go from there. He's a talented player that I think worked out well and I think we might have timed this thing up pretty good."
On thinking Bears would have had more than nine takeaways in first nine games:
"Yeah, because it showed early in the season. We were getting takeaways early in the season, but we know it's all tied together. It's playing good overall defensive football, it's hitting the quarterback; that always equates to takeaways. It's playing with the lead sometimes. But we're confident with the guys we have and the coaching staff and Sean Desai that it's going to come. That's going to pick up and hopefully coming off this bye we'll get that part rolling."
On Bears quarterback Justin Fields and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson:
"All these quarterbacks are so different. When we moved up to select Justin, it's simply because he's a really good quarterback with the arm talent, decision making and overall makeup that we value. You combine Justin's athleticism and the other traits that he has and that's what makes Justin Fields so exciting for us, and you're seeing it. A quarterback like Lamar Jackson, he's an MVP-type of player for a reason and it's because he can make all the throws, he can kill you with his legs. He's just extremely dangerous and dynamic and everybody on defense has got to play at a high level to defend a guy like that. Even when the play's defended initially, he can extend the play and buy time and gets wide open on these scramble drill type of moments. So we've got to play good defense and play with a lot of defensive responsibility against this opponent."
On how rookie tackle Teven Jenkins has looked since returning to practice:
"He's looked really good. His body looks different. When you look at him, he's worked his tail off. The strength coaches have done a great job and the trainers. He looks quicker to me. It's very apparent, the work that he put in, and we're seeing it in practice right now, and we're just going to bring him along at the right rate, but he did a good job and the staff did a good job getting him back."