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:
I gotta compliment you, your staff, the coaching staff, the players on the vibe heading into the final four games because it's still outstanding in that locker room. Possibly the competition that's coming in these next four weeks also piques the curiosity of a player who appreciates good competition, and they want to go up against the best. But overall, does not feel like a team that's lost 10 games.
You never want to be in this situation record-wise and we all understand that here, but I think it speaks volumes on the culture we're trying to build around here. It speaks volumes on the types of players we have here. They're focusing on their individual performances and their performance as units and they're trying to get better. But they're having fun with each other and if you can go to work with people that you love going to work with, that's a big deal. And that's really something we want to accomplish this year so I'm proud of that.
Looking back a bit to the passing game against the Packers by Justin Fields, what was your thought?
Yeah, he's growing. He's growing. He's seeing the field, the game's slowing down for him. I thought his pocket presence in terms of even pressing the line of scrimmage and still throwing the ball and putting defenses in a tough situation was evident. So, I think you can just tell in his body language as well, he just feels comfortable. I know everyone's pumped about that. I know he's excited. You can see it in his demeanor at practice. It's trending in the right direction.
His demeanor at the podium on Thursday, I don't know if you evaluate that stuff. He was at his most comfortable, he was smiling, he was optimistic, he was excited and he's feeling his progress and the progress of the offense. Is that important to you to see him in that role because all those guys on his team are watching him in that role as well?
Yeah, I think that's part of leadership and that's one thing we've talked about as a staff is how's he growing as a leader because your body language affects everyone else. So when your top dog is holding himself the right way and being positive, others will follow. And the other piece is I see he's getting confident. He's believing in himself and that's a big deal. Really the last thing I think is probably having a bye week and getting some time to rest his body and his mind helps him feel good. So we're excited about him and the direction he's going.
Yeah, I think they've done really well. Brisker is really coming along. He's been a playmaker for us, still learning the game, so it's been good to see his progress. Obviously, he had to take some time there with a concussion, but I'm excited to see him back out on the field. And with Kyler, I've spoke about it before, not many fans probably understand how difficult that nickel position is. There's a lot going on in there. It's physical. There's things coming at you in all different directions. He's facing good quarterbacks, but you also have to be a part of the run too. So I feel like he's ascended in terms of his confidence, the way he's playing and again, this will carry into next year as well, his ascension.
Cole Kmet is finishing strong. What does this mean for the future for him in the offense in years to come?
I was talking to Luke about Cole and he's come a long ways, really fit and found his way into this offense and really vibing with Justin. That's a key thing. You can see that around the league, there's tight ends that have that connection to their quarterback and that's a big deal. That's a safety valve, that's a comfort zone for them to go back to. So we're all happy with his progress as well.
Do you care if you finish No. 1 rushing and do you care about 3,000 yards?
I think anything you can hang your hat on in terms of accomplishing in a season that's a record, I think is always great. I think the biggest thing when you talk about those types of records, I see a team that's physical, it can play a brand of football that's important in this division, especially if we want to be a championship-caliber team. So I think that's the most important part. Can we grind on other teams for a long period of time, because I think that's gonna come to play as we move forward as on organization.
Let's talk Hurts and the Eagles. In every phase, a very strong opponent. Thoughts on how they've been built and they've been built heavily on the line of scrimmage?
When you turn that tape on, offensive line, defensive line, that's the way you want to be built. They're strong, physical, smart, so they've done it the right way. They're gonna be a tough opponent and I know our guys are up for the challenge.
You had a scout school this week for a group of Chicago students. All-day experience, really cool moment. I had a chance to speak to them as well. The genesis of it and at a busy time when you guys are wrapping up progress of the entire draft process and getting ready for the offseason, how meaningful that was for those kids and for you? How did this idea come about?
I think it comes down to when I took this job, how can we affect the community is something I take very seriously. So this was just an idea that popped in my head, do a little scout school and really inspire some kids from the Chicago area. I thought it was a really cool connection, the collaboration with a partner Bears Care has linked up with before and that's BUILD. So we brought them out and really took them through a little bit of combine teaching, a draft room teaching, we watched film, we talked about analytics, the technology behind it. Then ended with a really good panel, which you did a fantastic job, but really wanted them to understand the different journeys of the different folks that work in our front office, how they go to where they were and some of the obstacles they had to overcome. So I thought it was successful. It's something we're going to do a couple times a year. I'm looking forward to it.
I'm excited about all those players. I think they're going to be a part of what we do moving forward. I think they've all grown, especially the guys that have been here. They've grown through the season and have progressed the right way. I'm excited just for Leatherwood to get more snaps and that'll come just to see where he's at. And then with Chase, this is the difference between NBA and MLB, it's not easy to come in and get a playbook. It's not his mental, it's just the volume and the terminology and everything that goes into it. That's going to take a little bit of time, but I love the player. I've had conversations with him. He's a good dude and he's going to be a part of what we do as well.
Are your scouts ready to roll now?
Yeah, ready to roll. We just flew everybody in to get a really good head start on the draft process. It was a great meeting; our scouts did a great job gathering information and evaluating tape. So we call it kind of pinning our board, early pinning of our board that will also play into the free agency work we'll do here in a few weeks. And we really get to see where the strengths and weaknesses are on both sides, and we really need to execute at a high level this offseason and we will do that.