"Good morning. Let me just start by telling you I’m unbelievably excited about being the Chicago Bears head football coach. That’s a great way to start the day. And a little bit about what we’ve been doing over the last five weeks: We started immediately on putting a staff together. I think we’ve done a fantastic job collectively and organizationally of putting together a group of men who are not only great teachers but guys with great people skills.
"We’re just about complete with our staff. We’ll finish up with a wide receiver coach over the next few days. And we’re excited both about thefit that he will bring to our team and what he will do in our receiver situation in terms of handling the guys on a daily basis.
"We’ve also spent time evaluating our football team from inside out. Our coaches have spent a tremendous amount of time watching tape of our players and evaluating them as much as we can without having the opportunity to spend time with them on the practice field or in meetings.
"Secondly, we’ve also done a very diligent job, our staff and our personnel people, evaluating the free agents that are out there as well. The process for both is ongoing and certainly that information will be kept internally as we move on to the offseason and get closer to those dates.
"So those have been the two main aspects, or three main aspects, of what’s gone over the last five weeks. It’s been a terribly exciting process of getting to know the men and women in our organization operationally and internally on the football side as well. And watching our staff work together and their presentations and the information that we gathered over that period of time.
"I’m excited to be here. And I’ll leave it to questions."
What are your thoughts about this draft?
"Well, that’s why we’re here. We’re just getting started with that. And we’re getting started with getting to know the players. It started at the Senior Bowl. Most of the time I spent at the Senior Bowl was in interviewing staff and getting our staff organized. So early on the excitement alaways to come to the Combine to get a first-look at these guys — from my standpoint, from our organization, from every organization’s standpoint. So this is where it gets started. Certainly it’s been ongoing relative to the personnel departments and scouting departments and things like that, but this is a first look from a coach’s standpoint."
New England getting some CFL guys – more up there?
"There’s some players up there that have shown that they can play in the NFL. That’s been proven over time. There haven’t been many but the guys who’ve shown up down here have done a pretty good job of fitting in. The players up there are very similar to the guys down here in terms of their character; they want to master their craft and be the best they can be. Some of them have had the opportunity south of the border and done well. So to comment on one without talking about the other…
"These guys love football up there. They have dreams of wanting to do it down here. Those that can will give it a try; those that can’t have experienced a lot of exciting football up there."
Differences with CFL?
"There are multiple differences, obviously. But just generally the ‘box’ is still the ‘box,’ the blitzes you seen in the CFL are similar to the blitzes you see south of the border. The field is wider, it’s intelligently created, it’s a three-down league. The defensive line is a yard off the ball, the field is a mile long and a mile wide. And we’re playing with 12 and multiple motions.
"It’s a different game but it’s a terribly exciting game. It’s been around 100 years up there; they must be doing something right. From my standpoint I totally enjoyed every minute of it."
Making game safer – CFL setup better for safety?
"I’ve got some plays if we ever to a bigger field. Player safety, as a head coach, is No. 1 on the agenda and it’s been a point of emphasis every day in the NFL. I’m for anything that looks more closely at player safety and it’s our feeling with the Bears that player safety is a No. 1 issue."
Wider field help safety?
"From a medical science question I really can’t answer that question. We’re playing with an extra player up there as well. I can say that every situation to make the game safer is worth consideration."
Have you finished evaluation of Brian Urlacher situation?
"That’s an ongoing process. We evaluated our entire football team as much as we can without seeing him work, without having some formal time with him on the field. As we move forward through the process, through the process and the Spring, things are going to be resolved. But right now between Phil [Emery], the personnel department and myself and the coaching department, we continue to talk about these things and process the information. But at this time we’re not going to go any further than that in our discussions."
Do you feel like you are behind on personnel things with the draft?
I think that’s very fair, Dan. As I said coming in, I odn’t feel behind in the football and Xs and Os side. But certainly in the personnel side, I’ve got some work to do just in terms of just the week-in, week-out of when I left the league as most coaches do, you know everybody in the league. You know how your personnel matches up in your division and your conference and throughout the league. That’s a big part of it, so as we build our playbook, which we’re doing presently along with all the other things that are going on, obviously I’ll continue to try to familiarize myself on the personnel side and that would be the side I’m most deficient in going in.
Have you had much time to catch up?
As of now, no I have not. It’s been ... looking at our team from the inside. Evaluating our football team. And again, spending time in meetings with Phil [Emery], the personnel department, our coaching staff. In both areas of personnel internally and the free agency side at the same time finishing up our coaching staff, working on the playbook, which we’re doing daily. So that’ll be the last piece of the puzzle as we work into the spring and summer is getting to be really acclimated certainly with our divisional opponents, which I’m somewhat, but not to the point where I’d want to be when the season begins and then certainly our opponents upcoming this season.
Do the Bears plan to talk with Jay Cutler’s representatives about a new contract here in Indianapolis or in the offseason?
I haven’t discussed any of that with Jay or with Phil up to this point.
How difficult was it for you being out of the league and then all of the sudden interviewing with the Bears one day, the Browns the next day and trying to tailor your interviews with those particular teams. Was that a tough task?
It was exciting as could possibly be. As our season finished, and during the five years I was in Montreal, I never focused on anything [but] being the Montreal head coach and loved every minute of it. Certainly once December rolled around and possibilities and openings came into play, I tried to focus as much as I can on even the slim possibility that there might be an opportunity. So it was not difficult at all. Certainly over the years I had always continued to put together a format for an interview process if that opportunity would come up. But the opportunity to interview there and in both places was not only a growing experience, but it was exciting and I felt totally prepared at the time.
Outside of personnel, what was the change in the NFL from when you left?
Probably nothing up to this point. I’m sure things have. The safety issues have become biggger than they’ve ever been. But the process that we’ve gone through over the first five weeks have not been any different than those that I’ve experienced as an assistant coach in the NFL. Just the timetable of what needs to be done going in. New staff, new coaches. New staff evaluating your team. New staff free agency and now the Combine flying into play here, almost in the blink of an eye since we started here the third week of January.
One of the knocks on Jay Cutler is his body language. As a quarterback how much do you value how a guy carries himself on the sidelines, with the media ...
Everybody has an opinion on that. I’m excited to coach Jay. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to talk with him on multiple levels and excited to work with him in all facets of his game. I really am. He’s an extremely bright guy. He loves football. He’s got a great skill set. So we’ve got to work hard to provide him the resources he can to maximize his ability and that goes into everything we’re doing in all three phases with personnel department and with our coaching staff.
When you look at the offensive personnel, how different is it from what you want ideally?
The No. 1 thing is that we expect that we know we’re going to get the best out of our personnel department. And in terms of what they’ll provide for us and the opportunities they’ll give us to coach whoever they bring to us and whoever we decide collectively to come our way. And then it’s our job to develop these players to the best of our abilities. We think we’ve got the coaches to do that. Development is a big part of coaching in our league and we expect to do that. We also will put in systems of football to accomodate those abilities, so we’re not working to put square pegs into round holes so to speak. We’re putting good football players in the position to maximize their skillset. That’s part of the coaching job as well. To define or pinpoint a specific way to go isn’t what coaching is necessarily all about. It’s developing and putting a system of football in place on all three phases, but also collectively and teamwise continuity to get that done. And that’s the exciting part of coaching.
Is Shea McClellin definitely a defensive end?
We’ve talked about that. He has flexibility. He’s a tremendous athlete. As we put our football team together, Dan, we’ll work on that. We’ve had discussions about Shea and all the strengths and his weaknesses. And he’s got a lot of strengths and a lot of great things he can do. As Mel [Tucker, DC] and the guys continue to put the defense together, we’ll decide collectively what the best place for him to play is.
You have worked with Tim Tebow ... your thoughts on him.
It’s been far too long removed for me to comment on what’s taken placed. I’ve been focused on the CFL. I had a great opportunity to spend some time with Tim and work with him at the time just out of college. I’ve really been away from it from a stanpoint of even commenting what he’s been through and where he is at the present time.