The Bears coordinators spoke Monday at Hallas Hall as they prepare to face the Cowboys at Soldier Field on Thursday.
Here are five things we heard.
1. Leonard Floyd won the Bears’ “Sweep the Sheds” award on Thanksgiving.
The Bears give the “Sweep the Sheds” award to a player who, as defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said, does “the dirty work, day in and day out, not expecting anything in return for that.”
The award’s name is a reference to the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks, who emphasize every player doing the little things.
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd had three tackles in Thursday’s 24-20 victory against the Lions, when Pagano said he gutted through an injury.
“He got the crap kicked out of him on a play or two and our trainers came up and said he’s probably not going to come back, because he got some type of rib injury or whatever it was,” Pagano said. “And they took him in for some X-rays, I guess. So he came back out and he said there would have to be bone showing for him to come out of the game. … There are a lot of guys who wouldn’t suck it up and keep going. But Leonard is not that guy.”
Floyd practiced in full for the Bears on Monday. Cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring), wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (concussion), tight end Ben Braunecker (concussion), right tackle Bobby Massie (ankle) and inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow) did not practice.
2. The Cowboys’ defensive front is “elite, elite, elite” when it comes to pressuring the quarterback.
That was offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich’s assessment as he weighed quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s ability to play under duress from opposing defenses.
The Cowboys have 123 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Reference, ranked sixth in the NFL, and 32 sacks. Robert Quinn has 9\u00bd sacks and DeMarcus Lawrence has five to lead a productive Cowboys front four.
Helfrich said Trubisky needs to “trust in the rhythm of what's there and realize that a throwaway is probably going to happen against these guys.”
“Every O-line gets beat by these guys," Helfrich said. "Every quarterback gets sacked by these guys, gets hit by these guys, and you have to weather that storm. You have to step up and get it out. You have to step up and run. And again, everybody has to be on the same page from the go of what’s the protection? How are we doing the various types of things we need to do from these guys? And just execute.”
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3. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor said his kick return unit has to be prepared for more plays like the Lions’ first-quarter onside kick.
Matt Prater’s second kickoff of the game hit Bears special teamer Deon Bush in the side, and the Lions recovered it.
“Obviously a coaching point is get out of the way -- which he was trying to do -- (but) that worked out for them,” Chris Tabor said. “We just have to continue to be ready for that. I said here’s the deal: We’re turning into a good kick return team, and now we have to be prepared for bloops and squibs. Take that as a compliment. Now, what we do with that -- we need to set good field position.”
Lions coach Matt Patricia said they were trying a different kick because of the success of the Bears’ kick return game. Cordarrelle Patterson caught the opening kickoff 7 yards deep in the end zone and returned it to the 50-yard line. It was his second return after offsetting penalties wiped out the first one.
“It’s tough to cover kicks twice, especially when you’re covering a player like that,” Tabor said. “But we’re going to continue being aggressive. I mean, if the thing’s still in the field of play, we’d like to push the envelope.”
4. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich saw confidence as the biggest takeaway for Mitch Trubisky from the Lions game.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky completed 29 of 38 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions. He led the Bears to a touchdown on their first drive and their last.
On the final nine-play, 90-yard drive, which ended with David Montgomery’s 3-yard touchdown run, Helfrich said he was pleased the Bears didn’t panic.
“We weren’t in an ideal scenario, but a 90-yard drive is a statement,” Mark Helfrich said. “It doesn’t matter who it’s against. It doesn’t matter the circumstances, for those guys to battle through that and for those guys to stay poised and finish with a touchdown on the road, it has to be a building block for us.”
5. Chuck Pagano’s group must slow down the league’s top offense, which is averaging averaging 432.8 yards per game, including 305.2 passing yards.
Behind quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys also average 8.5 yards per play, second only to the Vikings.
Prescott leads the league with 3,788 passing yards. Chuck Pagano said the tape of Elliott, who has 990 yards on 27 carries, “speaks for itself” as he prepares the Bears defense for what it is about to face.
“He’s big. He’s strong. He’s got great vision. He can run,” Pagano said. “He can take it inside, bounce outside, run through you, run around you, jump over you. He’s a threat out of the backfield as a receiver. He’s good in pass pro. He’s as good as they get.
“These guys understand the value of a 4-yard run, and they don’t get away from that. You look down the stat sheet and they’re No. 1 in the league in total yards, No. 1 on third down. ... There’s a lot of third-and-2s, a lot of third-and-3s, a lot of third-and-4s, because they’re really, really efficient on first and second down. So we’ve got to do a great job. It’s going to be by committee. It’s going to take a village to get this guy on the ground, down after down.”