General manager Ryan Poles 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 Poles' comments:
What could have gotten out of hand Sunday in Minnesota did not. What impression did that comeback leave on you?
I think we were all disappointed with the end result, but some of the takeaways from that game that were positive was the resilience of this team. They had each other's back. They competed hard. The battled back to the point where we had the lead late in the game. We've just got to learn to finish as a team and that was coach's message to everyone and it's the truth. We've got to learn to finish and get those games ending with a win rather than a loss.
Well, it's key because it's a one-possession league right now. I mean, almost every single game goes down to the wire like that. I'd imagine for a young team, though, moments like Sunday are deposits on the future, learning how to win those moments.
Yeah, that's the learning experience that we're going through. And we'd like to see that evolve as we go through the season. You know, can some of these tight losses, one-possession losses turn into wins? Being able to finish, being able to execute being able to do what's right in the moment, play smart. That's part of that 'HITS' principle is play smart. We've got to be able to execute at a high level.
We're in a time and place and we talk about this, every snap's a referendum on a young quarterback and the future of a quarterback, in this case Justin Fields. Based on the reactions outside the building after that game, not that you care about outside the building, but stock up on QB1. What did you see that may have been different from him from your perspective?
I don't think there's anything wrong with having that mentality. When we review tape, we do the same thing when we break down what are we doing well, what are we struggling with. And as we evaluate Justin, I thought he looked comfortable. I thought he operated really well. He was able to get explosive plays. He also was able to get the ball out on time on the underneath routes as well and keep the chains moving. And then obviously, he's always going to be special with his legs when he gets out and makes plays. So I liked how that whole game played out for him, and just like with the entire roster, we want to see him start stacking those. And that's on us too. We've got to put them in a position to stack successful outings.
The bummer about the fumble late is that you lose a moment of evaluation -- crunch time, ball in your hands, a chance to get on the board and make this interesting. With a young offense and a young quarterback, you lose that. That's some of the downer about it, in addition to the actual mistake.
We all know through all of the seasons of football that we watch, that two-minute drill is critical. And if you're really good in the two-minute, you can win a lot of games that way. So again, when we review that tape, our coaches, our players, our front office, we understand where we gotta go, what we've got to be if we want to be successful in this league.
We knew it'd be a significant test for a young secondary, given a star like Justin Jefferson. How do you feel the unit handled their business over the course of the game?
Yeah, I think they had to figure things out early, which took a little bit more time than we all would have liked. But they settled in and I thought they competed. We got an interception, a couple of good big plays and I know they've learned a lot from that. Jefferson's a very talented receiver, so hopefully they learn from that experience and can build from it.
What do we have here in Jaylon Jones?
Yeah, those young guys, they're gonna learn when they're playing on offense or defense. But the one thing that we look for that buys them time to stick on our roster is to perform on special teams, and not only him, but even [Josh] Blackwell. They're doing a good job on teams. They're making plays there. And that can be the difference of winning and losing games, but we like how they're developing. They're playing hard. They're playing with the intensity that we ask them to. And then over time, we hope that they'll develop as corners as well and make plays for us.
I love the edginess and the confidence of Jaylon Johnson right now. He missed three games, but he's coming back tonight to face a pretty good receiving corps, yet nobody's throwing at him. Could that change, you know, test the guy who's banged up and coming back from an injury, by Carson Wentz, a veteran quarterback, tonight?
Yeah, Jaylon has been locked in from from Day 1. I thought he had a tremendous training camp. I thought he started the season out really well. He's hungry and he's ready to get back. It's always good when you're not being tested because that's just making offenses predictable. But I know if he does get tested, he's going to be in the right place and ready to make plays, so I'm excited for him.
N'Keal Harry, on the roster now. Maybe not ready for tonight's game, but he's in the bullpen, coming up strong there. That and Velus Jones Jr. wet our beak a little bit with the touchdown on the fly sweep, beautiful play. These reps could be coming, right?
For N'Keal, he's hungry. He's fighting us to get back on that field as soon as possible. There's multiple kind of checkpoints we've got to get through to make sure he's in a good spot. He's really, really close. I'm not sure if he'll make it out there this week. I hope he does. I'm excited for him to make plays and he's ready to do that as well. And then for Velus, I'm proud of Velus. Again, just as a young player, had some adversity a week or two ago with that muffed punt and he comes back and makes a play for us and scores a touchdown. I hope we're able to use his skill set throughout the season, really increase speed, be a little bit more dynamic than we are right now which will allow everyone to benefit—our run game, Mooney all of our receivers.
You're getting a team who's hurting a little bit right now, but the Washington Commanders have three first-rounders on the front four and a stable of receivers that catch your attention. What are your thoughts on this team?
Yeah, their front is really good and there's a lot of talented big, long, strong men up front. So, they're gonna test our O-line and I know our guys are ready for the challenge. Regardless of what anyone's record is, this is the NFL. We all watch the games and I know we've got to execute at a high level to get a win.
Get a detailed look at the Bears' new orange helmets, which will be worn for two games during the 2022 season—Oct. 13 vs. the Washington Commanders at Soldier Field and Oct. 30 in Dallas against the Cowboys. Similar to the traditional navy blue helmet, the orange alternate helmet features the wishbone 'C' helmet decal—but it is navy blue with a white keyline and a navy blue facemask.