Chicago Bears GM on state of team after 6 games


Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles had one key word on Monday: finish.

That’s what the Poles would like to see his team do best after a 2-4 start characterized the past three weeks by late breakout games. The Bears squandered fourth-quarter leads losing to the Washington Commanders and Minnesota Vikings and didn’t quite get over the fourth-quarter bump against the New York Giants to start the month.

So they entered Monday night’s clash with the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium with a lot to prove and the Poles thinking they know how this group can turn a corner in their ability to finish.

“That’s the detail in their work,” Poles said. “Just to be very specific, it’s being exactly where you’re supposed to be. (That’s) your technique. I know the coach (Matt Eberflus) is good at technique. It’s one thing that they hammered this week. I believe in that too, just since my playing time. If you can deal with the technique, all the other little stuff comes after that.

The Poles met with the reporters for just over 10 minutes, long enough to give them an overview of where the bears are and where they need to go. Naturally, much of the conversation revolved around quarterback Justin Fields and his journey to progress.

Here are the highlights of this session.

On his overall assessment of the Bears’ situation after the first six games:

“Obviously Matt and I are on the same page in terms of competing to win games. We’ve failed a few times, and for us it’s a bit like having a young team that has to learn how to finish in the red zone, win games and do the things that we hope to do. What really encouraged me was how we handled that mini-bye. And whatever your record, the ability to look in the mirror and see what we did well, what we didn’t do well, what we struggled with and then attack those things (is key).

“Our coaches have met the players. We met with the coordinators and we talked about it. And then what is the plan to improve and take the next step? The work that has been done this week has been incredible, making some adjustments to get guys in positions to do well and do better and hopefully win a few games.

On growing Justin Fields:

“I know Justin has been a big deal with his development. And we are encouraged by the progress that is there. I know it’s not in the stats and on paper all the time, but it’s improving in many different areas. Overall we also need to keep playing better around him to allow him to continue to play well and get his confidence to perform at a high level.

On what he’d like to see Fields show over the past two-plus months to demonstrate progress:

“(It’s) a few different things. How is it used? Are we putting him in a position where he can succeed? And then it’s the execution and the details of what it’s being asked to do and really speeding up the game and making decisions faster. Again, the beautiful thing about football is that it depends on everyone. Overall we need to improve. And I think we’ll see that when everyone starts to get better, then we’ll start to go up.

On being active before the trade deadline to add pass-catching assist for the offense:

“It doesn’t matter, we’re still going to be active, whether it’s making phone calls or picking up the phone and seeing if it’s something that can improve our team and that makes sense to us – not just for the moment. Because I’ve always talked about it. It’s about sustaining success for a long period of time. It’s not the short answer all the time. Just blending this is difficult because it takes a lot of discipline. So that’s what we balance.

On where the team fell short in the first six games:

“I knew we were going to be a young team. But it’s just about performing at a higher level and the guys are making plays. Finishing. This kind of things. Plus, we know this is a new diet for a lot of different people. Even with Justin, it’s his first year with us. He doesn’t have many starts like that. It continues to grow and see guys mature in the game. That’s what we need to step up.

On specific things he saw from Fields that encouraged him:

“With young players, you are looking for lightning. And he showed the lightning to get the ball out in time, being precise. Some of the deep shots – like even the one from (Dante) Pettis (against the commanders) were incredible. So he continues to do these things. That’s what we’re looking for.

On continued criticism from the outside that he hasn’t done enough in the offseason to improve the offensive line and receiving corps to properly help Fields:

“We are still able to assess everyone in our current situation. I’m doomed for the things we did this offseason and in the draft. And we will continue to snack. Like I said, all we’re going to do or are doing is maintaining success over a long period of time. Within that framework, I think we can always assess our players – from quarterback to guys on defense and all positions.

On the performance so far of rookie defensive backs Kyle Gordon and Jaquan Brisker:

“Kyler is getting better every week. I thought the last game was probably his best game so far. We put a lot on his plate playing inside and out, and that takes a lot of mental toughness. Especially playing DB in this league, it’s a chore. There’s a lot of space to cover, so he’s doing well and will continue to improve. I really believe in that.

“And then Brisker did a good job too. I expected him to make a few plays with the ball and I think that will come too. But his ability to tackle and get in and fill in and help our defense get physical, I think he did a good job.

On where he sees indicators of the team he wants to build long-term:

“For the age of our team, there have been a lot of games where we knock on the door to win games. The next step is to learn how to finish. And you all know that from watching Sunday. There are teams where, once they learn how to find a way to win, there are teams that know how to come back from deficits. There are characteristics of the (winning) teams. Finishing is one of those things. We really need to take the next step. But we’re on the doorstep.

On his assessment of coach Matt Eberflus:

” He is incredible. Again, his ability to self-evaluate over the past week and bring the staff together and keep the team together (has been good). That’s what worries you on any team is when you lose, you don’t want things to fracture, and that team is tighter than it’s ever been. (It’s about) believing in each other and finding ways to win games in the future.

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