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Pace talks win over Rams, chance to clinch division


Bears general manager Ryan Pace spoke to play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak on WBBM Newsradio 780 AM and 105.9 FM prior to Sunday's game against the Packers. The following is a transcript of that interview.

On win over Rams:
"I think you look back at that victory and how we played, it means a lot. Against a good opponent at home. I thought our fans were unbelievable. The environment was electric and we've got to carry that into this game."

On Bears defense in win over Rams:
"It's a credit to [defensive coordinator Vic Fangio] and his staff, and it's a credit to the players and their preparation. I know we talked about this before, you see it on Sunday night, but really the preparation all week, the hard work that's put in, the film study that's put in, and that pays off in those games."

On quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's candid evaluation of his performance against Rams:
"He's back with his teammates, and hey, we're all still learning, and I think it's good that he recognizes that. I think as you look at our offense, we need to adjust to what's taking place within the game, and in that game we needed to run the ball, and we showed that we could run the ball and had season highs in a lot of areas rushing the ball, and that's what we needed to do to win the game. Our defense played well, and the result's a win, and that's all that matters."

On growth of offense:
"We're all growing and learning, especially our offense. Our offense is growing and learning, and that's what's taking place before our eyes, and I know [coach Matt Nagy] said it himself. You know, you're going to see this offense evolve, not just this year but over the years, and that's just part of the process we're going through."

On challenges of new offense:
"There's a lot of new pieces all coming together. A new offensive coaching staff all coming together, different than what we have on defense, and I think you see that. And I think as long as we feel there's steady growth, and we definitely feel that, and you see it behind the scenes, that's what we're looking for."

On if defensive dominance has surprised him:
"I wouldn't say it surprises, there's good coaching, and we have a lot of talent, but the makeup and the character of the players, they play as a unit, they play together. I thought we had a good defense last year, and I don't think it was recognized as much because we weren't winning, and I think there's a lot of intentionalities when you win. But then we were able to add some obvious pieces to already a good defense, and I think you see the results. But the key thing is how well they play together and the character that we have."

On chance to clinch NFC North title with win:
"We put ourselves in a good position from the work we've put in, and I think, honestly, this just isn't the generic answer, our entire focus is on this one game and this one game against a very tough opponent, and that's where we're at right now. We got to play well today, and I'm confident we will."

On losing cornerback Bryce Callahan due to injury:
"He was having a great year. He's a good young player. From a personal side, I feel bad for him because he was playing so well. But you know we have depth there, that's part of what we've been able to build, and we feel guys are prepared and they're ready to step up."

On guard Kyle Long's recovery:
"He's on the right trajectory. He's progressing and he's eligible to start practicing soon, and we've just got to make a determination as a club when we want to pull the trigger on that."

On if Week 1 loss to Packers still stings:
"Yeah it stings; that was a tough loss for us. Matt said immediately after the game, 'Guys we're going to learn from this.' And I think we did learn from this, and I think the key word is finish. There's been times this year when we've finished games. There's been times this year we've wanted to finish better. There's so much parity in the league, all these games are close. It comes down to the ability to finish games, and I think that's definitely something we took from Week 1."

On Packers running back Aaron Jones:
"He's playing at a high level right now. I don't think people are talking about him enough. He's top three in the league in rushing average. He's a good athlete, but what stands out is his effort and toughness that he runs with. He's just a real physical runner. He's got vision, he's got a great burst. If there's a crease within your defense he'll see it, and he'll shoot through. We've had a string of really good running backs we've been playing against. I think Aaron Jones is in that group of guys. We're going to have to play well. He's playing at a high level and we'll have our hands full."