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
Congratulations on the opening win. You come out on the field, it's pouring, you're in your suit, you're hugging Flus (coach Matt Eberflus), the guys are having a slip-n-slide party out there at Soldier Field. These moments are cherished and it's the first one, so how did it feel?
It was great. Leading into that game you just don't know what you have until it comes together, and you play with it. The emotion of it was we were excited. We were excited that a lot of the hard work that was put into it and came back to us in a victory, and really in a lot of adversity that day with the weather [and a] really talented team we were playing. The guys really displayed the "HITS" principle right there in front of us and it led to a victory, so just having that validation of what we're doing turning out to be a win is always a really good feeling. Then just to see the guys flying around after and sliding into the endzone, that's what it's all about. This is a business, there's a lot of pressure to be an NFL player, NFL organization, but this is the same game you played since you were a kid. So seeing that just kind of brings those emotions back.
Several players approached me after the game and this week and said they knew they were going to win and they're not shy about saying that. There's a belief here that is super strong, so regardless of circumstances, is that the first step in the process of learning how to win?
Yeah, you've got to learn how to win, you've got to learn how to overcome difficult parts of the game and really lean on each other for those team victories, and that's what we saw. We saw the defense come up with some really big plays and then it allowed the offense, which took a little bit of time to get going, that bought them time to make plays on the back end and finish the game off strong. So just winning it and winning it together is absolutely critical.
As advertised, the play of the rookies and the first and second-year players, it was significant in this game. You had to be proud of that and that resiliency and that command from Justin Fields also moving into the second half.
Yeah, loved the command from Justin. Shows what he's capable of doing both with his feet and his arm, and we expect him to just grow and get better week in and week out. With those young guys making plays, that was our expectation. We saw their ability to learn fast, to play like professionals and they're doing that, and it's a lot of fun to watch.
Eddie Jackson truly feels he's got a fresh slate. It's a fresh slate for his own mind, body and soul also. That pick (last week) was really emblematic of what he thinks is going to be a great season. Do you think it's a first step in a process of turnaround for BoJack?
Yeah, I'm excited for him. He's a guy that coming in here, there's a lot of expectations. I know the last few years weren't what it was the first couple. But he's bought into the process, he's bought into the coaching and now we see him as one of the leaders. He's one of the leaders for his team, doing things the right way and when it leads to production, that's a really good sign.
It's Packers week and you announced, 'Take the North.' They're the leaders until further notice, they've been the defending champion of the division. In a way, that statement carries weight and you're not going to run away from it, are you?
No not at all. That's the expectation. We believe in that here and that's the goal. So how do you achieve that goal? Green Bay has done a really good job in this division for a long time, so this is our first test at taking the north and we're going to see where we're at. We've got to overcome this one, we've got to play well and getting a victory is one step closer to getting this organization to where it should be in terms of taking the north.
What is your impression of the Packers right now?
When they have Aaron Rodgers in there, they're always a true threat. [He's] one of the best to ever do it. So, there's a ton of respect there. They're a talented team and we know we have to bring our best to get the win.
Injury wise, this team has been good. Guys are getting healthy, but one guy in particular, wide receiver Velus Jones Jr., what's his situation now?
We're working through that day-to-day. I know he really wants to be out there and performing, so we'll continue to monitor that situation and listen to how he's feeling. We'll work through it and when he's ready, he'll be out there making plays for us.
The running backs in this game, both sides, clearly Luke Getsy tailored it so it's a weather game. You're going to run it no matter what and every yard matters, 37 carries. But they want to do the same thing. The four backs in this game, and if Trestan Ebner happens to get some offensive snaps too, they all can catch the ball, they all can run the ball. Could this be a game where yards from scrimmage, the two backfields, tell the story?
Yeah, I think it does. Both teams want to stay balanced and allow the run game to create opportunities in the pass game. So, I'm excited to see our guys go out there and especially the big guys up front create lanes and have an effective day on the ground. If we can do that, I feel good about tonight.