The Washington Redskins (5-7) on Sunday play the Chicago Bears (5-7) in 2015 Week 14 action at Solider Field.*
On Wednesday, Chicago Bears head coach John Fox and tackle Kyle Long spoke to the Washington, D.C., media about their upcoming matchup against the Redskins.
Chicago Bears Head Coach John Fox
On preparing a team for road games:
"Well, it's an interesting dynamic because you are traveling. Dorothy said it in Wizard of Oz, 'There's no place like home.' It is a different deal, it's kind of you against the whole stadium. There's not going to be typically a lot of cheers for you. That kind of thing. There's a little bit of a road warrior mentality. Really. all in all, my experiences, I've told these guys here – because we've had a poor home schedule and a better road schedule – it's more about who you play than where."
On having the same record as the Redskins but being in different places in their respective divisions:
"I think really there's no cupcakes in this league. You look, people talked about our home schedule. We've lost to the Packers at home, lost to the Vikings at home, lost to the Broncos at home, lost to the Arizona Cardinals at home. So back to what I'm was saying, it's more about 'who' than 'where.' You mentioned our division, we're not leading our division at 5-7. You guys are… A lot of it is the schedule and who you're playing. Sometimes, way back when I was in Pittsburgh, I was in the AFC Central and Houston and Pittsburgh… Pittsburgh was winning Super Bowls coming out of that division. Sometimes it was 10-6, sometimes it was a 9-7 record, because the division beat each other up pretty heavily. Really, last year the NFC South I think had a losing record going into the final week. The schedule-makers, how it ends up… I'm still a firm believer in anybody who wins a division should have a home game and should be in the playoffs regardless of what that record is."
On if wide receiver DeSean Jackson factors into game planning more than a typical wide receiver:
"No doubt. I had a guy in Carolina similar to him – Steve Smith – for many years. We played the Rams this year with Tavon Austin. I'm not saying these people are the same type of players but they're very explosive. The offense typically tries to find ways to get them the ball. They're explosive players. Most of them start off as return men and kind of earn their stripes and then get injected in some kind of offensive role. I think DeSean has proven worthy. I know he's had some setbacks this year with injuries and what not but I've seen him play before when he was at Philly and I'm well aware of his abilities."
On his view on player participation in OTAs:
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears.
"The rules are the rules, but when you have 'voluntary' work, really you can't make it mandatory. I think just like in-season, if we didn't feel practice was important, then we would never practice [laughter]."
On defensive end Jarvis Jenkins' performance:"He's been an outstanding teammate. He's well-liked in the locker room. He's well-liked by our coaching staff. He's been a pleasure to coach from my standpoint and I think Vic Fangio, our Defensive Coordinator, feels the same. So he's been a pleasure to coach and we're glad he's here."
On if he was surprised Jenkins was available in the offseason:"I think in this business you don't get surprised, but I think our scouting department over on the pro side and the college side I think do a superb job. They did their homework and they did good in signing him."
On the decline in running back Alfred Morris' production:"I think obviously when you develop with that kind of rep in this league, obviously people are going to put resources to stop that aspect. It really comes down to execution day-to-day. I think the fact that there seems to be more of a rotation – which I know that is something that we do here, I can't speak to what they're trying to do there – sometimes it's injecting other players, so that can change production and whatnot. But all in all, they're still very capable. For a long time they've been a pretty much a zone blocking scheme and they execute it very well."
Chicago Bears Tackle Kyle Long*
On how the team remains plugged in at this point of the season:
"Well, as you guys know, it is a marathon. We tripped ourselves up a few times there at the beginning of the year. As with any team with a new coach, new coaching staff, regime, you need to find that comfort level with the staff and the players. Everybody needs to get on the same page and I feel like we kind of found that mesh somewhere – Week 4, Week 5. I think while our record doesn't indicate that we're making a ton of progress, I would say that each week we're becoming a better football team. In regards to the Redskins, obviously, they've been playing very well, as of late. They've had some big guys stepping up. Kirk [Cousins] has done a great job and that defense is looking pretty good."
On if it is difficult to remain patient in that process:**
"I mean, the only way I can explain it is, we've lost X amount of games by one, two or three points. It's almost like losing a baseball seven-game series on a couple balls that went all the way to the warning track. You know, you're so close to getting that home run. You're so close to winning. And that's the thing about football. That's what keeps you coming back. We love playing for this staff. We love playing for one another. These close games are a tough pill to swallow, but it's why you want to keep coming back, keep making progress. I'm sure the guys in your locker room will echo the same thing."
On the different challenges of playing at home or on the road:
"Some of the challenges when you're on the road, I mean, I can tell you firsthand I'm glad we're not playing in D.C. I played there my rookie year and it was a raucous crowd, so we're lucky to be at Soldier Field again. It's tough winning on the road because it's tough to win, period, in the NFL, but when you add in the crowd noise, your offense has to go to the silent cadence, the snap counts are all different. You don't have that comfort level of, you know, staying right down the street from the stadium the night before the game with your normal routines and stuff. You know, we're all professionals and guys find their way of getting ready for the game. It's just been one of those years with the NFL where there's been a lot of ups and downs across the league. Anybody can play any level of football on any Sunday. I mean, it's been true to form lately."
On if the differences in which opponents are played at home or on the road goes overlooked by fans:
"I hadn't really thought about that because you mostly just think home or away. But we've gone to some tough places this year. We've played in Kansas City, we've played in Seattle, we've seen some really tough crowds. But, then again, we've played really well in those environments and we need to find that extra gear at home. We need to be able to use the home crowd as a catalyst and as a launching pad, so to speak, to get us going."
On the challenges for an offensive lineman dealing with crowd noise:
"Well, for instance, playing in Kansas City this year, you have to look inside. You have to look to see the center-quarterback exchange to make sure that you're not jumping offsides. If I'm at home I'm looking at the defensive end or I'm looking at the linebacker that's on the end of the line. You don't have that luxury when you're playing on the road. There could be movements formationally. Alignments change while you're looking inside. Next thing you know you look up and you do your pass set and the guy is in a completely different spot; he did the Houdini thing. It's not a good position to be in."
On the Redskins' pass rush:
"Obviously the personnel is what stands out to me first and foremost. You look at guys like [Ryan] Kerrigan, [Terrance] Knighton … obviously Hatch [Jason Hatcher] is a guy that year in and year out he's been really good and I know he's a little dinged up. The guy that has impressed me the most, Chris Baker, No. 92, he's a very, very solid player, very stout player. I think the group plays really hard. I think that's the ultimate compliment for a football player. If you have a group that plays their butts off, that's a respectable thing."