ChicagoBears.com senior writer Larry Mayer speaks with coach Lovie Smith about the most pressing issues involving the Bears every Wednesday during the season.
LM: Since 2006, the Bears are 14-4 in games immediately following losses of 10 points or more. What has been the key to rebounding from tough defeats?
LS: "First off, there should always be a sense of urgency. But it seems like after you have disappointment, you can't wait to do something about it, and for us it's about that. It's about watching the video and learning as much as we can from it, but then moving on to the next week. What you can't do is let a team beat you twice; I'm talking about just harping on that. You have to learn from it and then move on, and that's what we've done. A lot of it goes back to the leadership in the locker room, too. We have some veterans who have been through it. That helps an awful lot when you've been through a situation."
LM: The Rams certainly don't look like the same team that went 2-14 last year. They played the Lions tough in a narrow loss and then beat the Redskins. What are your impressions of the Rams as you prepare to play them Sunday at Soldier Field?
LS: "Yes, they lost to Detroit. But late in the fourth quarter it was a 20-20 game and they went down and took the lead before Detroit scored on them late. And then last week I thought they dominated the game. Even though they didn't really take control of it until late, Washington never really stopped them. What I've seen from them is that they play extremely hard and just make plays. It's a new year. I don't know exactly what their record has been in previous years, but I just know this year from watching them on video they've gotten our attention. It's going to be another tough game that we've got to win."
LM: If Matt Forte is unable to play against the Rams due to the sprained ankle he sustained last Thursday night against the Packers, how confident are you in Michael Bush stepping in and what does he bring to the table? I know he's on a crusade to prove that he's more than just a short-yardage back.
LS: "Yes, he is. Even going all the way back to the offseason, I just think it's a long NFL season, and you need two or three running backs that you feel comfortable playing if they have to. Hopefully Matt Forte will be ready to go because Matt's a special back. But if he can't, what we've seen from Michael is that even though he's a big back who can run in between the tackles, he's shown us the ability to make a guy miss in the open field. He's not just a big guy. He can catch the ball out of the backfield. He really has adjusted to being a team member of the Chicago Bears. He's a well-liked guy in the locker room and everybody has full confidence that he can do the job if Matt can't go."
LM: I understand there will be a change with the offensive line this week. Can you talk about the move?
LS: "Chilo Rachal will start at the left guard position. Early in the year you're looking for different combinations. There are no lifetime positions or anything like that. We think that it was close when we went with Chris Spencer in the first place and just feel like right now Chilo deserves an opportunity to show exactly what he can do. He's a tough guy. He's a good athlete who can pull out in the open field, and he has good speed and agility for a guy his size. I'm anxious to see what he can do."
LM: The front four has been generating consistent pressure on the quarterback, which is critical to success in your defense. The Bears are tied for second in the NFL with eight sacks, and all eight have come from linemen. How pleased are you with the pass rush to this point?
LS: "Our rush has been good in our first two games, especially last Thursday night. But we have good pass rushers. Julius Peppers is Julius Peppers, the best there is in the game to me. Israel Idonije has played hard throughout. We've talked a lot about Henry Melton; there aren't many guys with his type of ability at the under tackle position. And Shea McClellin is a first-round pick, so we expect big things for him. But it wasn't just them. I thought Corey Wootton played outstanding football too and Amobi Okoye as well coming back. So we had a good rotation. We played a lot of guys and they were all able to get good pressure, and we like to be able to get pressure without having to blitz."