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Transcripts

Quotes 9/18: Coach Joe Judge, TE Evan Engram, G Will Hernandez

Head Coach Joe Judge

Q: Do you expect any update on Golden (Tate)? Is he closer this week than he was last week to play? I know you have to go out to practice still, but what is your expectation for Golden Tate?

A: Obviously, I'm expecting him to practice today like he has the rest of the week. We'll take a look at him today and see how he looks in practice. But he's been working hard with the trainers and has progressed nicely.

Q: What do you need to see from your team? You talked about the growth between Week 1 and Week 2 being significant. Good teams can make that jump. What do you need to see from your team to say, 'ok we made that jump'?

A: There are a lot of levels of improvement. We have to see, not only this week but throughout the year, we have to grow as a team. We're still working on really getting our identity and our base set as a program and as a culture. The things I want to see this week, on top of playing together as a team for 60 minutes which I was pleased with how we did it last week, is I want to see the guys go out there and execute and not set ourselves back with mistakes.

Q: The Bears have a few marquee players on defense that are on the injury report, they've been limited. Just curious, how much do you monitor that from the other side?

A: I'd say, obviously, you're very aware of it. Every team in the league checks the injury reports every day, you check the waiver wire every day. You're always conscious of what moves are happening in the league and what's going on with the opponent for that week. That being said, I'd be surprised if those players don't play this week. We're fully anticipating seeing those top end defensive players, especially the edge players (Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn), going as hard as they can for 60 minutes.

Q: I know your policy on talking about injuries. How much do you pay attention when another coach does talk about injuries?

A: Obviously, you're looking at everything you can to try to gain some kind of information. Matt (Nagy) plays it pretty close to the chest. Sometimes you have to read between the lines. But he's done a good job right there of kind of keeping it guarded.

Q: Just wanted to ask you about Julian Love, one of three defenders who played every snap the other night. There was some uncertainty as to what role he would take with you guys in the summer. What did you see from him Monday night, and what do you like about him on the backend?

A: I think he's a smart player who's demonstrated the ability to really have range in the deep end of the field. He brings a good skillset to not only play back deep, but also work up and play some of those matchup positions underneath based on the package. The versatility he brings to our defense is good. He's really improved on his communication throughout our time at training camp, throughout the first couple of weeks. He's getting more comfortable within the role of understanding the defensive concepts and how everything plays in front of him. On the backend, you have to communicate and tell everyone else where you're going and make the checks. That's definitely improved. I'm pleased with Julian back there. He's been one of our most reliable tacklers so far. He works very hard at practice every day of working his open field close and press and tag-offs. Then when we go full tackle, he's demonstrated improvement on that throughout training camp and the first couple of weeks as well.

Q: This week when you guys talked about the corrections you wanted to make, and then obviously, a focus on fundamentals, just have you liked how your team came out in the last couple of days at practice since we don't really get to see much of it anymore? Have you liked how they have approached it and how they've handled it?

A: Yeah, absolutely. You know from a coaching staff standpoint, on a short week, you have to structure practice a little bit different. Obviously, on Wednesday it was more of that mental walkthrough day. You're still letting them recover a little bit, but you have to advance on the opponent and get the mental part in. Yesterday was a big day for us. It was two-minute, it was third down. Today we progress on the red area. Got to have the plays and review all the situations. But yesterday hitting the field, I was very pleased with not only their effort and their energy, but also the attention to detail and the fundamentals. Obviously, we start out practice with a large fundamental emphasis within each position group with their individual periods. But then we want to carry those through. When we watch the team periods, we want to see all the stuff from individuals show up. I'd say across the board, our guys did a really fantastic job with that. Not only the fundamentals that they're going to apply into this week's direct schemes for the opponent we have to play, but also just general football 101. We want to make sure we always work on our blocking, our tackling, our ball security, our turnover or ball disruption. All those fundamentals that you have to have to be a successful football team.

Q: Long before you were ever here, the story about Evan Engram has been can he block? Can he do it at this level? We know he's one of your favorite guys, we know you love his playmaking, we know that he tries, he wants to block, as Jason Garrett said yesterday. Do you think he can be an above average NFL blocking tight end?

A: Absolutely. I have all the confidence in the world in Evan. This guy fights his butt off. I don't want to take a few isolated plays and try to magnify that into being the total picture of the guy. I'm going to tell you something right now, he's a guy that hits the field every day and this guy goes 100 miles an hour. In the passing game, the run game, pass blocking, whatever's asked of him, when he's on special teams, this guy goes full out to the wall for us every day. Look, we have a lot of confidence in Evan. He's an integral part of our offense. He's a key part to our team. I look forward to having him for the rest of the season. Look, this guy, he works too hard not to improve on a daily basis. I'm very pleased with how he comes to work every day.

Q: You talk a lot about working on fundamentals and techniques this week. Is that something that you saw maybe you guys lacked a little bit of during that Steelers game? Is that why you worked on it a little bit extra this week?

A: We work on fundamentals every day, regardless of the time of year, the opponent, or what the outcome of any game was. That's going to be a key part of our program. Everything starts and ends with fundamentals. Good plays start with good fundamentals.

Tight End Evan Engram

Q: I know you're turning towards Chicago, but how did you evaluate your Week 1 performance?

A: The expectations I have for myself, I definitely want to and need to be better on all phases. I definitely hold myself accountable to improving this week and to come out with more better details and things like that against Chicago.

Q: I know baseball players sometimes talk about if they strikeout, then they take it out on the field and make an error. I'm wondering if you, you had that drop on the first play, a little surprising. I'm wondering if you feel like that maybe compounded and affected your blocking later in the game? Or were you able to shake that one off?

A: It's always the next play mentality for me. Bad plays are going to happen, things are going to happen, and that's kind of part of being a football player. You have to play the next play. That's kind of my mentality going forward.

Q: What happened when you guys had the ball at the three-yard line early in the game after the fumbled punt? It looked like you got open, and with Daniel (Jones) early on the throw and you held up on your break. You know what I'm talking about, that play near the goal line?

A: Yeah, that's a play that's designed. Just have to complete it.

Q: From my uneducated eye, it looked like your technique was a little inconsistent in the blocking area. When you went back and looked at the film, did you find that to be the case? Was it a matter of technique and just getting the same kind of leverage every time, or was there something else kind of going on with your game?

A: No, that's really all blocking is, just using the right technique. Those are details that I have to clean up. Footwork, hand placement, head up, eyes up, leverage like you said, things that I can improve on. Blocking is a lot of small things that I definitely had to clean up.

Q: Do you ever look back at some of the old tight ends, the good blockers in the past? I know the game has changed and rules have changed, but do you ever look back at some of the older tight ends and pick up elements from their game from when they were blockers?

A: I haven't looked at a lot of old film, but there's a lot of good film that we watch when we're game planning. We break down film of guys being successful in the run game. That's probably the best outlet that I use for my technique to take to the field.

Q: Coach talks a lot about making a big jump from Week 1 to Week 2. What have you seen from the team that makes you believe that that's about to happen here?

A: We had a lot of urgency this week. Being a short week, the schedule was adjusted. I think we did a really good job this week of flying around with urgency and attention to detail, and getting all of our reps in and work in.

Q: I'm just wondering, you obviously said you need to do some things better. When you have a game that didn't live up to your standards, I'm curious how this coaching staff kind of approached it? Did they ride you? Did they get on you? Were they patient? What was the approach this past week?

A: Just fixing some details that I needed to get fixed. Just some small things in the game that I could have been better at. When we broke down the film, we highlighted those and I added that to the emphasis of my practices throughout the week, and then we moved on.

Q: Also, you're going on the road. This is a completely new environment with COVID and travel restrictions. Do you plan to do anything differently or make any changes? What does this do to your routine that you've kind of developed over the past few years?

A: No, it really doesn't change anything. Definitely just following the guidelines, being smart, following the rules that we have on the road, being really cautious and trying to protect myself and my teammates.

Q: How big will it be to get Golden Tate back and to have all of your guys, weapons, at Daniel's disposal on offense?

A: It's definitely really good to get Golden back in there. He's a great player, a good veteran player, makes big plays week in and week out, he made a lot of big plays for us last year. It'll be good to get him back out there with us and have a full force offense to go compete.

Guard Will Hernandez

Q: What would you say was the primary emotion in the offensive line room after Monday's game? Was it anger, frustration? Andrew Thomas was telling us coach was pretty honest with you guys and that he called you out a little bit for the run game.

A: Yeah, of course. Anybody who put that on tape deserves to be called out. We definitely learned from it. We had an attitude of we're going to practice hard and we're going to show it the next opportunity we get, which is this Sunday.

Q: I had a question regarding the communication at the different levels of offensive line play. Obviously, you have three new guys. You've got a center to one side, a new tackle to your other side. Has the communication become any different when you are blocking at the point of attack versus at that second level? Do you think that might have been some of the reason why there were some issues between you guys?

A: We've got five guys on the offensive line that all are capable, all are willing to make the calls and have the calls down. Everybody has it down. It's just a matter of coming out, going out and doing your job. Everybody doing it, not only doing your job but doing it at a high level. That's something that we all need to step up for sure, including myself, starting with me. Go out there and just be in sync.

Q: What about in terms of you technique, I know you are very self-critical. You are always looking to get better. Did you feel that your technique was consistent throughout this game?

A: Any time you come out, there's always going to be good and bad and good. I think that it can always get more consistent. I'm talking about for me and everybody on the team specifically. Everybody can get better at something. The perfect game doesn't exist, so the answer to that is yes, it can definitely be more consistent.

Q: What are the challenges with working with a new center? Nick Gates really hasn't played center much in his career at all. Are there ways that you can help him with calls and stuff like that? I'm just curious how that goes during the game.

A: Nick's awesome, man. Talk about somebody that can do it all from tackle to guard to center. He's definitely a guy that was put in there for a reason. He's not there to see if he can do it, but because he can do it, he's there. He definitely knows how to direct a huddle. Helps us out, helps the tackles out. He definitely takes charge. He handles the huddle and the play calling very well.

Q: Was there a lot of calls at the line of scrimmage that you had. I know the Steelers like to bring a lot of different looks and bring guys from different areas. What was that like during the game?

A: Every game you have a lot of calls and every play you're making calls. Yes, there is a lot of calls that are made, they were made right. They were made properly when they needed to be. Now, it's all a matter of executing them and executing them more consistently That's exactly what we're going to do this Sunday.

Q: Saquon has taken a lot of heat publicly this week. What do you make of that? The fact that he's coming off that game and catching a lot of public heat.

A: Everybody is always going to have something to say. I'm not worried about Saquon because he's mentally tough. He doesn't let that kind of stuff get to him. This isn't exactly the first time he's gotten heat. I'm not worried about Saquon. He's mentally focused, he's mentally tough. All I know is he is going to use it as motivation and it's just going to help him in his game. So bring it on.

Q: Coach talks a lot about making a big jump from week 1 to week 2. A lot of coaches talk about that, too. What have you seen this week that makes you optimistic that that's actually going to happen?

A: Just the attitude in everybody's eyes, the look in everybody's eyes during practice every day. The past three practices that we've had since our last game, it differs in energy. Guys coming out there doing specifically what they need to do. Paying attention to the smallest details. Coming out with all this energy, coming out with all this purpose. All that's going to happen is you practice how you play and what we're going to do is we're going to carry it over to Sunday, that's it.

Q: Do you think those attitudes came from Monday Night's performance? Was there a little embarrassment from what happened?

A: You're always motivated by a loss, nobody likes to lose. Not only that, but we're already motivated as it is. You get something like that that happens, of course we're going to come out with even more of a chip on our shoulder. That's not us, that's not what we want to do, that's not what we want to put out there. Of course, it motivated us and we're more motivated than ever now.

Q: There is some degree of credit where credit is due. I don't know if you will face a better front seven all year than the Steelers, Bears, and next week the 49ers. Do you like that? The idea that you face the very best from the start? Is it better for an offensive line that's new to playing together to be eased into the situation?

A: Give us the best, give us the best. We want to play against the best, we want to be challenged. We didn't come out here to pick and choose our teams. We want to play the best guys. Go out there, match up and kill it as an offensive line all together. We're not ducking from anybody. We're not watching who we're playing this week and not next week. Bring it on, whoever it is, it doesn't matter.

View photos of the Chicago Bears' starters ahead of the Week 2 matchup against the Giants.

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