*With the Ravens preparing to take on the Chicago Bears this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad. *
BR.com gives you Bears head coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Jay Cutler.
Head coach Lovie Smith
Does the lack of success in the passing game affect Matt Forte?
Smith: "You have to look at that the other way around. Just like the Ravens, we're a running football team that would like to be able to pass the ball well when we want to. And it's hard when you become one-dimensional, and that's how it's been with us. We haven't gotten our running game going many times this year; you can say that that has had a lot to do with the passing game. But, the passing game can take a lot of pressure off the run too. So, things just haven't clicked for us in any area this year."
Can you take anything useful from the Ravens/Lions game last weekend?
Smith: "Well, they definitely get your attention. Not that we needed it, we know what type of football team we're playing. But, you normally don't see that type of effort. We played Detroit early in the year, and they had a lead on us early, and we were able to get after them late in the game. But, it was impressive watching what they did to them last week."
What are your impressions of Ray Rice?
Smith: "Great football player. Not many guys… You talk about an unsung guy that… But more and more people are starting to notice. And I think Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig are the only two that had a chance to rush for 1,000 yards and receive 1,000 yards, too. But you [saw] that last week, of course, impressive runs by him, breaks tackles, good speed, great vision, you know a great receiver as I say it. I could talk about him the rest of the day. He's a good football player."
Is there a single thing or two that you can attribute to the recent decline in team performance after starting 3-1?
Smith:"Well, I don't know if I can say a single thing or two. We've just – as you mentioned, after a good start and doing a lot of good things – we hit some tough waters. Things that have caused that, offensively, of course the turnovers have really hurt us. We haven't been able to get our running game going, [and] just haven't made plays. Defensively, third downs have really killed us. We've been close, but we've had about three games where we just didn't play good football at all. And you put all that together, [and we] just haven't played the way we all think we're capable of playing. And that puts us at 5-8, where we are right now."
Do you still consider the Bears to be a good football team, even at 5-8?
Smith: "Of course that's an easy way for me to look at it, and a way that I probably should, but we haven't made any breaks. We haven't gotten them, we haven't been lucky, because we haven't created things for ourselves. But, I still like the core of our team. We have played well, right up until this past week. We were ahead in the fourth quarter against the Packers this past week. There have been five games where we easily, if we had made a couple of plays, could have won. So, this can be a good football team. I expect us to play the best game we've played all year. We realize we're playing a good, hard-nosed, tough football team, and we'll find a lot out about ourselves this week coming up there."
QB Jay Cutler
What do you see in the Ravens defense, in particular, the secondary?
Cutler:"I mean, Domonique Foxworth, he was with me out in Denver, so I'm familiar with him. Ed Reed is one of the best in the game, and the other two guys are good, solid players. You know, any time you've got a guy like Ed Reed back there roaming around, they're going to be tough to deal with, just in identifying where they're at."
Is the biggest problem the Ravens pose their disguises? "No, I don't think it's that. I think it's, you know, they might be in a cover two, they might be in a single high, but with Ed [Reed] back there, you don't know if he's going to get to his spot [or] if he's going to go with your eyes. You know, he reads a lot, and I think his route recognition is really good. So, he's able to jump things and get to spots even though he shouldn't even be in the picture."
Do you read anything into the Ravens' game against Detroit last week?
Cutler: "Not really. You know, they went out and played really well, got on them pretty quickly, so it never really gave [Detroit] a chance. You know, they're in the playoff hunt, so they're playing at a high level. The speed of the game is going to step up a little bit these last couple with some of these teams. So, it's going to be a tough one. It's going to be a tough atmosphere, and we're going to have to be ready for it."
What can you attribute to the decline in team success after getting off to a good start this season?
Cutler: "I don't know. [At the] end of the season I'll have to go back and look at all the games, and really study it, and see what kind of the demise was. We started off 3-1, and felt pretty good, then we went on a tough stretch and gave some games away , and got beat soundly a couple of times. I can only speak offensively; offensively, we're just not executing. We're turning the ball over a lot, [and] we've got a lot of penalties. So, it's not that defenses are doing anything to really dictate it, we're just kind of hurting ourselves a lot."
Has there been added pressure on you because of all the attention surrounding your trade to Chicago?
Cutler:"Yeah, I mean there was a lot of pressure. I think there were a lot of expectations in the city. But, every NFL team in the country has pressure; everyone wants to win the Super Bowl, everyone feels like their chances that first game are really good. So, it wasn't anything that any other quarterback wasn't faced with."