Chicago Bears Coach Lovie Smith Says Green Bay Packers Defense Presents Problems

Opening Remarks – “We held out two players – Pisa Tinoisamoa and Chris Harris. Both of them are getting better. Pisa is just a normal routine we take him through. Chris Harris is making progress. Hopefully we’ll be able to get him on the football field tomorrow. It’s not a must. In an ideal world you would have the players at least practice Friday, but for a guy like Chris Harris if he couldn’t make it tomorrow we would let it go right up until game time. I think he’ll be ok. We really need him back there. He’s played great ball for us throughout – just having a veteran back there, for all he does for us. Practice-wise, it was good getting outside today. As a general rule, when the weather is bad, we try to at least get one day outside. We’ve been able to get two days out this week so we feel like we are ready for the conditions. It’s our home field. We know what we’re dealing with outside in the elements here. Everyday gets us a little bit closer. Of course, we can’t wait to play. You’ve had the chance to talk to all of our players. They’re all excited about playing a game like this.”

On keeping the routine as normal as possible

“We don’t change up. When we travel we leave the facility the same time, we get on the same time. When we’re here at home, it’s the same routine we go through. Besides changing the press conference from the media room, it’s a normal week for us. We would definitely like to keep it that way.”

On what impact Chris Harris not being 100 percent would have on the defense

“We won’t play a player unless we feel like he can be effective and won’t hurt the team – that he can help the team. I don’t think any of our players would put themselves out there knowing that they can’t do their job and that would definitely be the case with Chris. He’s making progress. There’s no reason really to think that he can’t and won’t be able to perform the same way he normally does.”

On if Chris Harris has exceeded his expectations this season

“I thought he would play this way. Chris was a good football player for us before and you don’t bring a player back unless you think he can play at the level he needs to play. Everything I wanted to do, he has done. I will say that. I’m talking about, first, being a veteran back there. You just watch him, he’s getting everyone in the right spots. Having a guy that’s been in situation like this, we’ve won an NFC Championship with him, the timely hits he’s made, the big interceptions, just another playmaker back there.”

On the Packer peaking in the playoffs

“I think you would definitely have to say that. You want to, of course, peak, you want to be playing your best football at the end of the year. For them, of course, they had to play that way. Their tournament started a little bit early, having to win every game to advance and even though we were in a different situation, I like the way we played at the end of the football season. I think as you look at the final-four football that we have this weekend, you could say that about most of the teams. In order to be here, you have to be playing pretty good ball now.”

On if the Packers goal line defense presents any different problems

“No, but they present problems of course, like all teams do. It’s the Packers. We know them, they know us. They present problems always, every time we play, they present problems, but we feel like we can deal with them.”

On what Packers players are effective against the run

“They do a great job. Their linebackers do a super job. Clay Matthews, you talk about him, [B.J.] Raji is a good football player, but a guy that I know fairly well who’s a good football player is Ryan Pickett. He was a good football player for us in St. Louis. He was a great player at Ohio State. He shows up, just a solid run guy, hard guy to move. You could say that about all of their guys across the front. They’re athletic guys with size that can cause you problems.”

On not changing much about their defense when playing the Packers

“That’s who we are. We believe in our basic philosophy of eventually it’s going to come down me beating the guy across, a one-on-one battle no matter how you get in it. There is only so much you can do. The teams who have a philosophy just blitzing every snap, eventually, though, as you blitz you are going to have to beat someone to get there most of the time. You are not going to have a free guy. If you have a free guy, it’s someone on the outside. So it still comes down to a one-on-one football game. For us it’s the same situation. We just do it a little bit differently, but in the end, as our players said, we’re not going to change a whole lot. For the most part, you are going to know what we are going to do and we are going to try to out-execute you.”

On the impact Devin Hester has on field position

“It has definitely been an advantage for us. First off, as a kick returner, if teams choose not to kick the ball [to him] to get it on the 40-yard line – you’re trying to score. Of course, every time he touches the football he has a chance to do that so it is always interesting to see how teams will deal with him. For a division opponent, we assume he’ll get the ball and when he does get it, a lot of it is on the rest of the guys to block for him to give him an opportunity to make those big plays. Our guys take pride in that. There are a lot of wild cards in this game – turnover ratio, who can run the ball, who can pass the ball, but with the special teams, with the third phase that we put so much effort into, we’ve won games that way and it could come down to that for us.”