ChicagoBears.com takes you inside the locker room with quotes from Bears players following Sunday's loss against the Vikings in Minnesota.
Jermon Bushrod, T
*Why was last season so much better than this season? *
I don't know. We couldn't get it done. We had a lot of opportunities this year to do some things. There were some game where it wasn't good at all, start to finish, but in some of the close games we had opportunities and didn't finish. We have to be better and use the feelings that we have each week as motivation. We have to do something because we don't want to go through this again. *Does the inability to pinpoint your biggest issues contribute to the frustration? *
We had to be better. If you look at this season, we had opportunities and just didn't finish. As a team, player and individual we need to finish things better. That is really what it is. You can look at 4 to 5 games and find situations that if we performed better in, we would have won that game. This year we have to go back and evaluate ourselves and the unit. As a team, all of that stuff will take care of itself. If we play as a unit, offensively we will be better so that is what we have to do.
*Given the turmoil throughout the last few weeks, was Jay Cutler put in a bad situation to play in today? *
His attitude on everything has been great. I love the guy. I love the guy on the field and even more off of the field. He is a good guy and ends up catching a lot of criticism, and it is not right. As an offensive lineman and somebody that cares about Jay, we have to stick up for each other. I want to see him continue to be here and I want to see him continue to get better. That is all we try to do. That is all we want to do. We want to make ourselves better so we can take this organization to places that it hasn't been to in a long time.
Jared Allen, DE
View photos from the game as the Bears take on the Vikings in Minnesota.
*What was it like coming back here? *
It was cool. I mean, I don't have any history at this stadium. The only two games I've been a part of here were both Vikings-Bears games. It was cool. It's always good to come back and see friends and people you like, but it's a football game. *How was Marc Trestman today? Any different? *
Nope. I mean, same-old, same-old.
*Jared, where does this rank for disappointing seasons for you personally? *
Yeah, I didn't have the sack numbers I wanted, but every other aspect of my game was right up there where it always is, from playing the run, to creating turnovers, batting balls down. I didn't have the sacks I wanted, so that sucks, but other than that. I'll go back and watch film in the offseason and just go back to work.
*Did you see a lot of growth from the young guys out there who got a chance to show themselves late in the season? *
Yeah, but we expect guys to go out and play well. This isn't college football. It's not like you're coming in as a high school freshman, and you're hoping to develop players. It's the NFL; you've got to come in and make plays, and that's what we expect.
Brock Vereen, S
*Was it as cold as you remember? *
Yes, absolutely, but obviously once the adrenaline starts kicking in you seem to forget about it. *How would you assess how you've played this year? *
I don't think that will be something I could decide until I get some time to really think and watch over some more games. But it was a learning experience, I could definitely say that.
Jeremiah Ratliff, NT
*What is wrong with the team? *
I don't know. I don't know the answer to that question. *Does the fact that you can't label one thing as the problem increase the frustration? *
Right. With the season that we have had there is enough blame to go around for everybody. There will be no finger pointing. As far as everything else going around, I don't know. My goal is to do my job to the fullest and be the best teammate and leader that I can be. Unfortunately we came up short and that happened time and time again. We will see what happens next.
*How difficult is it to go through a season like this? *
It is tough. It is especially more mentally and emotionally tough, but physically you know that it is your job regardless. It was tough to go through that, but it does reveal character in spite. We played well but it wasn't what we wanted.
*What does it mean to you knowing that you played consistently well all year? *
Did we get a win? So then it doesn't matter. If you walk out of here feeling good that you lost, that is selfish. I wouldn't want to play with you. But that is kind of where it is right now.
*Do you think there will be changes made in the next 24 hours? *
That's not my call. I have been asked that question several times before and still have to same answer. I don't know. I don't make the decision on who comes and goes. I am just a player in the game.
*It was reported that Mel Tucker (defensive coordinator) was emotional on the sidelines. What did you think of that? *
Maybe he was, but either way it wasn't any of your business. I don't want to tell you all that. I have a lot of respect for Mel and the way this game is, whatever happens is what happens. We are not in control of decisions like that.
*What did you think of the final goal line stand to end the Vikings final drive? *
It was pretty memorable. I will keep that with me.
Roberto Garza, C
*What was the reason this year was so disappointing after such a promising season a year ago? *
If I knew the reason why, we would have fixed it. We just couldn't get it going. Offensively, we struggled all year. We made a lot of errors and there were a lot of things we could have done better. We just never got going. *Did the 4 or 5 false starts today pretty much sum up how the season has gone? *
No question. It definitely affected the outcome. We had the ball at the end of the game to try and score to win the football game but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. You can't do that in this league. There has been an emphasis on that all year and we just kept hurting ourselves in situations like that.
*Was the focus just not there? *
Everything was there. We were practicing, everyone was showing up and showing energy. We just didn't transfer all of that over to the football field.
*Do you agree that Jay Cutler unfairly received a large amount of criticism all year? *
For sure. We have 11 guys that need to go out there and do their job. For an offense to get going the linemen have to block, the receivers have to catch, running backs have to hit the holes and it takes all 11 guys to do that. We can't just blame one guy for the tough season that we had.
Kyle Long, RB
*Obviously you guys didn't win but you did get the record. Will that mean something to you when it is all said and done? *
Later on, long down the roads, when I look back at my career it will probably mean something. It will mean a lot more to me than it does right now. I mean it is a record broken. Anytime I break a record it is not just me obviously, it is a team effort. I just appreciate all my teammates blocking for me and also Jay Cutler for throwing me all those balls that I caught this year. It was a great accomplishment and I think our team and our offense can hold onto that for a little while even though the season didn't go how we wanted it to go. *When Marc Trestman came here a couple of years ago he said he wanted to get you involved in the passing game in this way. Do you feel like the record is in anyway a product of his offense and things that he was telling Jay to do? *
There is a lot of times in the offense where I can be the first read in the pass or sometimes the last read and I will get the ball a lot of times. When you have an offense like this and you have some big receivers, obviously Brandon (Marshall) wasn't out there with us but early in the season when they are doubling him and Alshon (Jeffery) then underneath, Martellus (Bennett) and I are going to get a lot of balls. Early in the year, I think I was leading the league in receptions because of that reason when they are trying to stop the deep ball or stop the two big receivers we have.
*Were you doing kind of a countdown in your mind or did you know how many you needed? *
I knew before the game, Jimmy (Clausen) told Jay and I how many we needed to get 100 and then how many to break the record. The flow of the game, we weren't really stressing about trying to get it so much. We were trying to get some screens going but I think they knew that I was trying to get the record too because on the screen plays the defensive linemen weren't really rushing. A couple of the pass plays they were actually spotting me with one of the defensive linemen and were trying to grab me or hold me from getting out.
*Is the offense too predictable this year? *
Yeah, you can say that. Sometimes we will line up in a formation that we ran a specific play out of a few more times than we should have. Defenses are smart. They watch film, read their keys and they know stuff like that. But at the same time if you execute the play and do it right you can still be effective in that. It is not just because they recognize the play formation that you are not going to succeed on that play. There has been plenty of times where they have called the play out during a snap and we can still get a first down or still get five, six or seven yards on the run.
*What did it feel like after the game? Did it feel like you were saying goodbye to these coaches? *
No, there wasn't a sense of that. It was kind of the same as the locker room has always been whether we win, lose or draw. Everybody comes around the locker room and shakes hands with each other and appreciates the effort that they gave out on the field. It wasn't really a sense of that.
*Marc Trestman talked about the effort being there and applauded you guys but the results just haven't been there, especially offensively. What do you think needs to change? *
Effort only gets you so far in everything that you do. If you look back at this game in the redzone, not scoring touchdowns, we have to execute better in that area. Penalties, lack of discipline, jumping offsides, or whatever it was. We had a lot of penalties this game that kind of hurt us doing that type of stuff.
*Jay Cutler said you guys kind of expected the Vikings to have a good plan after you did pretty well against them last time. Were you not able to counter that as effectively as you wanted to? *
No, I don't think it was so much them as it was us this game. We were effective against them last time and some of the stuff we did this time was still effective. We were kind of shooting ourselves in the foot like we have been doing the entire year which is something that needs to change if we want to continue to play in this league and win some games.
*Do the penalties drive you nuts? *
It is just bonehead mistakes sometimes and it happens to all of us. The teams who can do it the least amount, obviously, have a better chance of succeeding. If you are second- and-seven and you are about to run a play, there is a play call and then you get an offsides penalty then you get backed up to second-and-long then the defense can sit back and just keep everybody in front of the chains which puts you at a disadvantage when you have penalties like that.
*That discipline that was so good last year and was not really there this year, is that just a sign of a loss of focus? *
I have no idea. I can't answer that because in meetings the focus is there and paying attention. In practice, we never really have any of those penalties and we do the same stuff, the same snap counts and stuff like that. Maybe it is the atmosphere of the game or something. Game-type atmosphere where you have to do a lot of thinking up there with a defense there you may forget what the snap count is on. It is kind of hard to get on the same page as some guys.
*Does that make it tough to figure out how to get it right? *
Obviously that is one thing that we can point out that was a factor in us being at a disadvantage. That is third downs, second downs or whatever when we get penalties like that and something that we can focus on and really harp on that. So we don't shoot ourselves in the foot because we already have to play against the defense.
Kyle Long, G
*Does that make it tougher not knowing what went wrong? In other words, how do you solve a problem that you really can't even put your finger on? *
That's not what I get paid to do. I get paid to block. I'm just trying to be the best teammate I can be. How about this, I'll make a New Year's resolution to solve all the problems. I'm just trying to show up and do my job like all the other guys in this locker room are, and like all of the coaches. You know, we work so hard all year. Obviously, our record can't discredit the work and the effort we've put in, the time that we put in to this thing. It's really unfortunate. *For lack of a better way of asking, how disappointing and discouraging was it this season? *
I think I answered that already. It's just mind-boggling. You're spinning your wheels in your head all the time. We're out here working as hard as we can. We sit in those meetings all day. We're out on the practice field every day, you know, walking through stuff. We just weren't able to make adjustments, and we weren't able to focus in enough to have success pre-snap and post-snap.
*I know this is also not your concern, but as a player, do you dread what is known as 'Black Monday' in the NFL? *
I'm going in for treatment tomorrow. Obviously, it's the NFL and it's a business. We understand that. We're sensitive to that. You know, obviously nobody really knows what's going to happen. Now that we're at the point where we don't have a game to focus on next week, obviously there's a lot of stuff that's going to be discussed tomorrow. I'm not sure what the deal is with that. I just know when our meetings are so I intend to be there on time.
Kyle Fuller, CB
*What do you think of this season as a whole? *
Take it for what it's worth and just learn from the mistakes that happened this year. Hopefully next year, whether I'm here or somewhere else, can't make those same mistakes or the Bears in general, and just learn from it. *What do you think was the biggest mistake of this team? *
I think it was just too much. We were front-page news too many times. In the past we haven't been there, that wasn't how we operated. This year there was a lot of trust broken. I don't care who you are or where you are, you will always have conflict and it's how you resolve that conflict. I think when you do have conflict, you also need to let that conflict stay in house, and then resolve and work through it. I think this year we didn't do that.
*Do you think this team needs to get back to the Bear way? *
Yeah, I think we need to get back to our roots or they need to get back to their roots. There was a way things were done and the way things were handled. I think they will be on track of handling things the way it used to be. I think this team, this organization is headed in the right direction.
*Why do you think that, why do you say that? *
Just a gut feeling. Regardless of what happens, I think everybody wants to get things the way it used to be as far as winning, having team unity, and when things go on keeping them in-house.
*Do you think you have played your last game as a Bear? *
If I had a coin I would flip it in the air, heads or tails, 50/50. I don't know, what do you think?
*Do you think you could play next year? *
*If it were your last game, what would be some of your last memories as a Bear? *
For one, there is a section behind our bench the peanut gallery that supported me all 12 years, they've been awesome. I would be on the field for a third down waving my hands up and down trying to get the crowd to make noise. The 300 level, the 400 level, all those fans that up top that you don't see, but look like little dots all screaming and cheering. Just around town people the way they treat me, the way they treated my family with the whole situation with my daughter. If it is my last game as a Bear, Chicago has been phenomenal, Chicago you've been great, Chicago you've been great, the fans, the food, the free stuff you all have gave me I really appreciate. The media, you guys have really respected me, and I respect all of you. Once again I appreciate everything I've been blessed with in the city. It's not too often you get a guy, or a couple of guys that can play their entire career with one team for 12 years, that's a long time. You guys have seen me grow up as a young 22-year-old kid to a 33 year old man. Its been fun, its been one hell of a ride.