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Tomlin on the Bears

Posted Sep 21, 2013

Coach Mike Tomlin takes a look at this week’s opponent – the Chicago Bears:

Q. The Bears are 2-0. What are they doing well?

A. It’s really simple: their offense is delivering timely situational plays. They’re converting 50 percent of their third downs, they’re delivering appropriate two-minute drives in both games. Defensively, they’ve been opportunistic. Not only are they causing turnovers, but they’re scoring. And on special teams they have great specialists. Robbie Gould, their kicker, has a great leg, and the great Devin Hester flipped the field quite a bit last week vs. the Minnesota Vikings.

Q. What makes Hester so consistently good as a return man?

A. He’s fearless. He’s got a good skill-set, in that he has good vision and can stick his foot in the ground and change directions. All of those are critical ingredients for great return men, and that’s why I’m fired up about Antonio Brown because I believe he has similar physical characteristics.

Q. Their new coach, Marc Trestman, came from the CFL. How much has he transformed the Bears’ passing game?

A. To me, he’s the same old Marc. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in the league a number of years, and I remember when Marc was in the league prior to going to Canada. I see a lot of similar things from his time in the league prior to going to Canada, and I think that’s where he’s pulling things from in the development of this Bears team schematically.

Q. Jay Cutler seems to be playing with a lot of confidence. How do you get him out of his comfort zone?

A. Like any quarterback, you have to apply pressure, and game circumstances dictate that. We can’t allow those guys to play with a lead, so we can apply pressure and get after them.

Q. How does the Bears’ running game differ from Cincinnati’s?

A. They have a lot of shotgun running game, and it really complements their passing game. It leans toward the strengths of their runner. Matt Forte has great pick and vision and patience. He’s a man for all situations. They threw him 10 passes a week ago, and so their ability to run the ball out of those passing formations make them unique.

Q. Brian Urlacher is gone from the middle of the Bears defense, and the unit is allowing 52 percent of third downs to be converted. What seems to be their problem through two games?

A. Teams have been in manageable third downs, primarily. When you’re a zone team, a Tampa-2 primarily, it lends itself to more success if you’re in long-yardage situations. People have been in manageable third downs, and they have found spaces in zones and they’re throwing and catching.

Q. Who on that Bears defense should have Ben Roethlisberger’s attention?

A. This veteran cornerback tandem of Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings have been doing it together for a long time, both have been to Pro Bowls. They both have a knack for the big play. They both have produced interceptions this year. That’s just the type of guys they are.

Q. A loss is a loss, but did the game against the Bengals indicate the Steelers are taking a step forward?

A. There were more positive plays and fewer negative plays than in our previous performance, but we don’t evaluate our performances on a curve. We play and play to win, and we weren’t able to do that.

Q. What part of the running game needs to be fixed?

A. I think more than anything we need to be more detailed, and in order to get that we’re going to reduce the number of runs we’ll be executing tonight. We acknowledge we have a number of new guys and some young guys playing, and so we’re going to bring the game to them in an effort to get the quality of play that we desire.

Q. So it will be a simpler plan tonight for the running game?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Are the problems along the offensive line more mental than physical?

A. These guys have good pedigree, obviously. A good bit of this game is mental, but the mental element and the mental errors usually spill over to the physical. It’s always a combination of both. Largely though, when you’re failing consistently it’s usually due to mental mistakes.

Q. Fernando Velasco started at center just days after being signed. Is it accurate to say he played above the line?

A. I thought he represented himself very well. He gave me what I anticipated him giving me in that he is a natural center. Some of the nuances that come with that position he does naturally. That was obvious. He did a great job of communicating. His veteran savvy showed in the midst of a new situation.

Q. What will be the factors tonight that will determine the number of snaps for Heath Miller?

A. There are a lot of things. The guy is coming off an injury, and his level of physical conditioning is an element of it. We’ll utilize expertise from the doctors, as well as the trainers and the strength and conditioning staff to determine an appropriate number of snaps for him.

Q. Ben Roethlisberger said there was a veterans-only meeting last Wednesday. Is that a good thing or a bad thing from a coach’s perspective?

A. I think it’s a good thing. It probably got more attention because of our current state, but over the course of a 12-month calendar year veterans meet periodically to talk about where they are and what the direction of the team is.

Q. Through the first two games, are you pleased with all aspects of the kicking game?

A. No I’m not. I believe they can be a legitimate reason why we win, because I believe we have those kinds of players. I like our specialists – our punter, our kicker, and our return men. Antonio Brown is as dangerous a man as there is in the league from a punt return standpoint. I like Felix Jones a lot in the kickoff return game, but in the first half of a season you don’t get a lot of opportunities to do that because most balls are touchbacks. I’m looking forward to our special teams being a significant contributor and a reason why we win.

Q. Do you have a planned rotation for the running backs tonight?

A. Felix Jones is going to get the start, and then we’re going to supplement him with the others.

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