Pace talks playoffs on pregame show

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General manager Ryan Pace appeared on the Bears pregame radio show Sunday on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM and 105.9 FM. The following is a transcript of that interview:

On whether he envisioned the Bears having a 12-4 record this season:
“We were excited as this team was coming together, the staff and the players. I feel like you go through the offseason and you’re hitting goals through the offseason and then you hit camp, preseason, regular season, and each one of those moments are hurdles that you clear, and I think as you go you build momentum. But as a team you’re kind of in the moment and you look back and [think], ‘Hey we’re 12-4,’ and now you just want to keep that momentum going.”

On whether Matt Nagy mentioned making the playoffs in his first season during his head-coaching interview:
“Our interview was really more about what you would expect: the foundation, the principles. It wasn’t really about one year. It was about long term and the process of getting really this franchise to where we want to be, and then once we’re there sustaining that.”

On the team’s biggest growth:
“I think really a couple things, first complementary football. I think we’re playing really good complementary football and I think that’s grown as the season’s progressed. I think you look recently at field position, time of possession, things of that nature and I think that that’s really grown. I also think—and this isn’t just the generic answer—I feel like you really felt this locker room come together—the chemistry, the culture, the continuity—and it’s not an offense/defense thing; it’s the entire locker room all coming together and that feels good right now.”

On whether this is the type of team he wants moving forward beyond this season:
“I would say, yes, it is and it’s on us to maintain that and build upon this. It starts with having a lot of good people. We’ve got a lot of good people around as players and staff and it starts there, and good teammates—unselfish, putting the team first—and if we continue to add those kind of guys, we’re going to be in good shape.”

On playing the Eagles:
“Obviously to get to this point we’re facing a really good team, the defending Super Bowl champs. They’re hot right now. They’ve won five of the last six. They’re aggressive on offense. You could feel momentum and confidence with [Nick] Foles. They have one of the elite d-lines in the NFL and you see it because they can pressure the quarterback without having to blitz, and I think that just speaks to the athletes that they have in their front four. So obviously it’s a really tough challenge for us.”

On the likelihood of the game being decided along the line of scrimmage:
“Most of these games are decided at the line of scrimmage. When you look at the combination of their offensive and defensive lines, the combination of both together, they’re one of the best in the NFL. They’ve done a great job with that and they’ve done a great job of building their fronts. It’s a strength for them. We feel it’s a strength for us, too, and that really jumps out.”

On Kyle Long’s return from injury in last weekend’s regular-season finale:
“I thought that last week went really well. He’s a very significant player for us. He’s a great player because of his physical traits, but I think beyond that just the mindset he brings to our offensive line up front. I think last week you really felt his presence. He played 29 snaps and you felt his presence when he was out there.”

On what Bears will weigh with Eddie Jackson being a game-time decision:
“Really it’s just day-by-day, hour-by-hour honestly. We’ve been this way with all these decisions all year long; just be smart about it and take everything into account and that’s what we’ll do.”

On what he learned while working with the Saints about playoff football:
“I learned don’t change; do what got you here. There’s going to be tremendous focus and attention on every team when you get to this point and I think you have to block it out. You have to trust what’s gotten you to this point and just stay locked in.”

On whether playing big games throughout the season will help heading into the playoffs:
“I definitely think it does. We played in a lot of big games this year and I think that experience helps. Those moments help. Right now our team is playing with a lot of confidence and it starts with our head coach. I think they kind of feed off that and that’s where we’re at right now.”

On what advice quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been given:
“Be you, just be you.”

On kicker Cody Parkey:
“He’s been working really hard and we believe in Cody Parkey. His mindset hasn’t changed since the first day he got here. He puts his head down and works hard and he’s the same guy every day and we appreciate that.”

On Eagles tight end Zach Ertz:
“First off when you step back and look at their tight end position it’s a major strength because it’s not just Ertz, it’s [Dallas] Goedert also, and so because of that you see them in a lot of two-tight end formations to utilize that strength. But Ertz is clearly a huge part of their offense. He just set an NFL record for receptions in a season by a tight end. He’s athletic, he’s smart, he’s really savvy as a route runner. He knows how to set things up, knows how to get open. He’s just a guy when you watch the tape he consistently separates from coverage. He’s a huge part of their offense. He has elite level production and we’ll have our hands full.”

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