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:
Let's address the Justin Fields situation. You appreciate the man's desire, but you also have to think of him as well and how it impacts his future and whatnot. What's the process been like?
Yeah, it's a tough process, I think there's a couple of things going on. One, you have a highly competitive player and part of our jobs is to protect our players and their health. I know that the decision we do make is going to be in the team's best interest, but also Justin's best interest as well.
This kid's tough, flat out he'd want to play no matter what. He thinks he's got a little bit of an 'S' on his chest. So you have to sometimes protect the player from himself.
Yeah, absolutely and I think he talked about it in his press conference, you remember that that big national championship game he had, where he had ribs and a hip going on, and he kept fighting through it. In our background, as scouts, that box was checked in terms of being a competitor and being tough. And I think that's why it's so important to, yes, take the information from him, but we're also going to lean on our medical stuff as well.
Any level of concern on the cumulative amount of hits he's taking?
You always want to protect your quarterback. Moving around and being athletic and moving the chains with his feet is always going to be a part of his game. It's been a part of his game since high school, but it's also our job and the coaching staff's job to put him in a position where he doesn't get compromised too much. So, I actually took the time to make sure we weren't doing anything crazy. Luke's designed runs, get him out to the sidelines and the majority of the time actually, he's getting out of bounds and fairly clean. Even on the touchdown last week, he walked in untouched. So we want to keep that up and then in protection, we want to protect him more than what we've been doing. And then at the same time, part of maturing as a quarterback is getting rid of the ball and avoiding some of those big, big collisions when you can and he's growing in that area. I think he's getting better, but there's also a long way to go as well.
Waiting in the wings is Trevor Siemian, smart veteran, Northwestern product. This would be his sixth start in four years. How has he looked? How has he helped Justin over this time?
Yeah, he's been a big part of Justin's growth process. One of the reasons we brought him in is all the wealth of information and experience that he's had, not only in playing but also being behind some really good quarterbacks in his time. And he's always ready, he's always prepared. The way he gets going every week is acting as if he's going to play, so he's wired in the right way ... I'm confident he can help our team.
Does this team need a break? It's not going to come until after next week's Packers game, but the latest break in the league for four teams, you're one of them. This week at practice, a little lighter one, you know that everybody's thinking about everybody, not just Justin.
Yeah, this is a late bye. It wears a lot of teams down. The one thing that I love seeing is the mental stamina that our team does have. Our practices have a ton of energy in them, our guys are bouncing around. I give a lot of credit to our performance team and our athletic trainers, keeping these guys healthy, because we actually are in a good position for a bye being this late. And the other thing is coach Eberflus has a great sense of when to pull back. We shortened up some practices, taking the helmets off, allow the guys to rest and recover, even get home a little bit earlier. So we're well aware of it. The guys are doing well. But I'm not gonna lie, a bye week coming up is a good thing.
No Jaquan Brisker and no Kyler Gordon, how are they doing? And we've talked so much about offensive line chemistry, you can speak to that better than anybody. But it also pertains to the defensive line, which has had some adjustments, and the secondary as well?
Yeah, those guys are doing well. They're still in the protocol, working their way out of it, progressing nicely. So hopefully we see them soon. In terms of a personnel viewpoint of this is when guys are out, you get the opportunity to see other players step up. So we'll see some guys get in and see what they can do. And hopefully they can shine in their moment.
Alex Leatherwood, I've seen him a lot in the locker room blending in. Could we see him at some point this season?
Yeah he's blended in nicely. He's been practicing really, really hard. It's interesting, a few years ago, I heard someone ask why there's less trades in football than there are baseball and basketball. And the answer to that is it's really difficult to pick up a playbook, where most of the guys, it takes all training camp to get it. Alex is coming along well. He's learning the playbook. He's gelling in and he's learning different positions. And hopefully over the next few weeks, there's opportunities to see him work in and show what he can do.
A word on the Jets, particularly that defense everybody's talking about. It's a young group, it's an aggressive group and they've got some stars there.
Yeah, they fly around, protection is going to be really important for us, picking those guys up and battling and sustaining our blocks in both the run and the pass game. So I know our guys had a really good week of practice and they're up for the challenge.
You can't sleep on a backup quarterback ever. Mike White had a 400-yard game last year against Cincinnati, so that caught everybody's attention. What do you know about him?
In the past he's had some of those big games, like you mentioned. So we've got to be well-prepared. And I know our guys are, they had a good week of practice as a whole, really. So we gotta get pressure on him and see if we can make him throw the ball to us and create some turnovers.