SAFETY DEVIN MCCOURTY
Q: How difficult is this Bears offense to defend against?
DM: Very difficult. I think you've got a guy who's very athletic, accurate, knows how to run the offense. And then they have an offense with a lot of weapons. You talk about [Tarik] Cohen, you talk about [Taylor] Gabriel, talk about [Allen] Robinson, you talk about [Trey] Burton - all of these guys are really top-tier players that can play. They do a great job if it's going vertical, throwing a shot, or if it's just throwing the ball three yards into space and making you tackle one of those guys that are really good in space. So, the offense creates a lot of problems. I think we've seen that from watching film - I mean, 45 points against Tampa, back-and-forth against Miami last week. So, it's definitely going to be a tough challenge.
Q: What similarities do you see between this offense and Kansas City?
DM: That [Matt] Nagy was the offensive coordinator last year. I think they do some game plan things so I think - I think everyone assumes last week, whatever bad happened, we'll see. But, I think throughout our season in the first five games, anything that we haven't played well, we'll see that. They might hit it in a different personnel group or different formation, but even last year playing against him in Kansas City, they do a good job of trying to create different matchups and things you just haven't handled and try to get to it a different way.
Q: Are you at that point in the season where the film tells everything that everybody needs to see? You've played so many games where maybe you try to cover up some of the stuff you don't do as well because you know they're going to attack it.
DM: Yeah, I think there's always some self-scouting, but I think that starts for us even from game one. Bill's [Belichick] always telling us, when we watch the film, certain things - like even if it doesn't show up in the game, he'll tell us like, 'This will come back up next week.' And it usually does. Now there's more, obviously there's more to see, but each game is like that. In this league, we call it a copycat offense, a copycat league, where all of the good coaches turn on your film. If you struggle with something, they usually have some type of concept already in their system that they can get to. So, that always shows up week in and week out.
Q: They have two good playmaking safeties. Do you take anything just watching the film from the other side, anything you've learned?
DM: I haven't watched much. Yeah, I'm not even going to lie. Other than what we watch in the squad meeting, not enough time in the day.
Q: How important will it be for you collectively as a team to start off fast on the road?
DM: Yeah, we talked about that, just getting out to a good start, especially on the road. We want to play like that each week and we've done that at home, but we've talked about that. We have a huge challenge this week of just playing well and trying to get a win on the road. We just haven't done it, and I think when you're on the road and you fall behind, now it's just the energy picks up, it's like everything's against you and you're just fighting uphill. So, that's something we talked about, getting off to a fast start across the board - offense, defense, kicking game. We feel like that's key for us if we want to go out there and play well in Chicago. It's not falling behind 14-3, 10-zip and then just trying to play a whole different game. So, we just need to focus and do that Sunday.
Q: Since you got into the league, do you think the RPO has taken off more?
DM: Yeah, I think offenses kind of always had some form of that, but I think even the outside world has now understood it more. I think before, if you saw a pass play, it's like, 'Oh, they passed the ball.' I think now people are able to see the run-action up front with the pass, so you hear it talked about a lot more and I think it is being called a little bit more.
Q: Do you think there is any advantage to facing that type of offense time and time again?
DM: It can, but not necessarily. Each offense is different, how a guy calls a game is different, how many actual RPO plays you get is different. So, I think we've seen it a lot now so I think there's some comfort with it. A little bit of the last year or two years has kind of been a new phrase that's said, so it was a little adjusting to that, but each week offenses do different things. I don't think, if you play good one week against a RPO team, that means you have it locked down for the rest of the year. You just have to keep preparing for whatever that team does.
Q: What are some of the things you want to be mindful of as a safety when you see a team operating that way?
DM: Of the RPOs? Whatever your assignment is. It's not as easy as, 'Alright, they're running RPO, everyone do this or do that.' Whatever defense we're in kind of dictates what you do to an RPO scheme. If you're in the run game and you see RPO play, you go play run. If you're in man-to-man coverage and you're on somebody and he's running a route, you just cover the route. Like I said, the RPO creates the one-on-one matchup. So, that's the hardest thing about it. Like instead of getting two guys to tackle, now one guy has to respect the pass play because his guy's not blocking, he's running a route. Now this one guy might have to make a one-on-one tackle and in this league, you've got to tackle some pretty tough guys and once you create the space, it makes it a harder play.
Q: The defense has gotten an interception every game this season. Why is this group so special at catching those interceptions?
DM: We've just been doing a good job. We've still let some - not bring them in and make those plays. But, it's something I think we talk about - turnovers, whether it's interceptions or forcing fumbles, just trying to get the ball back - and I think we've done a good job of that in the first couple games. We've just got to continue to do that. We have a very good offense, so the more possessions we get them, the better chance it is to win and the less plays we have to play defensively.
Q: What have you seen from Mitchell Trubisky in terms of his decision-making, especially the last couple weeks?
DM: I think one thing he does really well, he throws a great deep ball. I think they design some good plays and I think he does a good job of seeing that and understanding where a safety is or where this guy is, 'If I can just get him to look one way, I'll open it wide up.' You've seen some plays where it looks like a guy's kind of running on air but the free guy, he does a great job of just controlling him and getting the ball over there. And I think he just does a good job if things open up right in front of him, he's gone for 30 yards because he's very athletic, makes guys miss. He did that well last week in some key situations. So, I think it's another game where we've got to kind of have everyone understanding where he is, everyone up front. If you're rushing, understand it's not a guy that's just going to sit in the pocket and you come and tackle him. Like, you've got to break down, you've got to tackle him like he's a skill player. But, I think he's just doing a good job understanding their offense and what he needs to do.
Q: Are the designs and route combinations at all similar to what you saw last weekend against the Chiefs?
DM: Not really. I mean, are there going to be a route combination that Kansas City ran, that Miami ran, that Detroit ran? Yeah, because I think that's just how the NFL is. Teams run things but from different personnels, different formations. We'll see some of that but it's not like - we didn't come in this week and say, 'Alright, we played Kansas City the week before. Take our whole game plan, put it in this week and we're locked and loaded.' They do some different things and they're kind of their own entity. It's Chicago's offense.
Q: What goes into the process of identifying the mistakes made on some of the Chiefs' big plays last week and making sure you don't repeat them?
DM: Just watching and understanding where we messed up - was it a guy, two guys - and fixing it. Like, 'Hey, when we get this again or if we get it for other sets that can be similar to that, this is how we want to play that,' and I think that's what we kind of talked about. Just if it's this, then we've got to do that. We can't not do one thing or another thing or that will lead to the big play. I think that's usually what it comes down to. It's either going to be one where we didn't take a guy where we needed to take a guy, or stay, or a missed tackle. So, I think we always try to watch those and fix them, and this offense is the same way. They kill you with a big play, it's going to hurt and they have a lot of guys that can do that. We've got to do the same thing mentality-wise and not give up those big plays. We did it for a half last week. We've got to do that for 60 minutes.
Q: Is one way to beat the RPO by covering the receivers well? Because even if the linebacker falls for the fake, the receiver won't be able to get open, right?
DM: Yeah, that's what I said. If we're in man-to-man coverage, you've got a man - you go out there and cover him, you cover him well. But, like I said, we're always running different defenses. High [Dont'a Hightower] popping out in the window was great for us. But, that shows up. We're in different defenses. That defense called for High to be in that window, quarterback never saw him, we get an interception, big play. So, that's the beauty of offense and defensive matchups and us trying to dictate what they do and get them to play into our hands and them trying to keep it spinning on us.
Q: When you're studying an offense, if a team is trying to give you a lot to think about and use a lot of different personnel groups, is there a point where that almost makes them become predictable because when they use certain personnel, they run certain plays?
DM: You can think of it that way, but you've also got to always remember usually in those different personnel groups, it's game planned. Chicago might have had, let's say it's "O-1" personnel, "O-1" versus Miami. But "O-1" might be different next week versus New England just like it might have been different Week 1 versus Green Bay. You can try to have some idea of what they've done or how they might attack you for what you're going to do to it, but offenses like this, they game plan stuff. So, they're going to plan if we come out in this, this is what we think they're going to do and this is how we want to attack them. So, you've always got to be a little careful to think that - I would call them a little bit of the specialty personnels are going to always play the same because you really never know.
Q: But then a team like the Rams can play in "11" 95 percent of the time but still be a diverse offense because of the number of different things they do out of it.
DM: And I think you've always got to remember the versatility of players. Like this offense that we've got Sunday can come out in "11" but [Tarik] Cohen can play like a receiver. So, now we're in four-wide with [Trey] Burton, it's kind of like five-wide. So, the versatility of different players, you can play one personnel but have a really different - like they come out in "13" and they'll go empty and they have enough guys out there that can play like receivers. It's always different each week.
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