Q: Can you talk about the overall health of the team?
A: I thought we came out of the game pretty healthy. We have a few nicks and bruises, but
nothing at all significant that I would like to talk about now. Wednesday will be the first day we
update you guys on our official injury report. We will see where Joe (Horn) is at that point. I
think hes made progress, and I thought he made progress last week.
Q: Can you discuss your thoughts on the Philadelphia game?
A: It was a hard-fought game with two good football teams playing. Much like the first game,
there were momentum shifts back and forth. I said this after the game, but you have to give credit
to Andy, his staff and their team for what they were able to accomplish this season after losing a
quarterback with the talent of Donovan McNabb
. We have a lot of respect for the way Jeff
Garcia was able to come in and lead that team to a NFC East title and a divisional playoff game.
Ive said this before but weve set our program up in the same manner that they have in
Philadelphia. We knew going in that it was going to be a tough challenge and it proved to be just
Q: On how his players handled adversity during the Philadelphia game?
A: I was proud of the way our players handled the momentum shifts in the game. We talk about
the adversity that you are going to see in a game. When they scored to go up by eight points in
the third quarter- thats a challenge and offensively we were able to get a drive and come back
and score. Defensively we hung in there and when we needed it the most in that third quarter, we
were able to force a three-and-out. That enabled us to get the ball back and run out the clock.
Q: Can you talk about the play of the offensive line and running backs?
A: The offensive line played their best game to date. Obviously Deuce McAllister
outstanding and Mike Karney
played his best game at fullback.
Q: Can you talk about what this win means to the organization?
A: Im happy for the organization and the city. It was a big win for us. It put us in a position to
play in another big game, so here we go again. Weve got our work cut out for us. Were going
to have to play well this weekend. This team were playing in Chicago presents a great
challenge. They are the team that finished with the number one seed in the NFC and we are
playing on the road. They have great football tradition in Chicago and their defense is
outstanding. They do a great job on offense with balance and yesterday you saw the plays they
made in the passing game down the field. Their special teams present another challenge, so we
have a lot of work to do. The schedule will remain normal, like any other week.
Q: Can you talk about what corrections need to be made coming out of the Philadelphia game
A: There are some things. I think you can take a few different approaches. I think the one thing
we want to work on is our trips to the red zone. I thought on a couple of trips to the red zone
when we settled for field goals early on, is always cause for concern. We had a chance to make a
couple of interceptions on defense that could have changed that game around. We were fortunate
punting the ball at the end of the half that we didnt have one blocked. There are always two or
three things, then we you put the tape on you find two or three more things that nobody would
have ever seen at the game. When you watch it everything gets back to the fundamentals and
everything we preach. If you go on to the next game without looking at the last one, then you take
the chance of mistakes reoccurring. Its really taking care of the little things and the details.
Q: Do you change your schedule this week as you approach the Chicago game or do you keep
things the same?
A: Our schedule will be the same this week. The one challenge is always trying to eliminate
distractions during the work week- media requests and ticket issues. Trying to minimize these
things and staying on schedule is the goal. I think it will be a normal work week schedule, its a
normal Sunday game and we will travel on Saturday. With us playing Saturday night we were
able to give them a day where they could get home. It was a late night Saturday so today we will
run, lift weights, look at Saturdays game then well move on to Chicago.
Q: Did Marques Colston make that catch at the end of the first half?
A: No. I didnt think he made it during the game either. The rules are very specific in regards to
a completion and an incompletion. One thing that is very specific, and this came up in a game a
few years back, but when you hit the ground you must still have the ball. I thought the officials
did a great job the other night and they got that one correct. I just wanted to make sure it got
reviewed and I was told it did. My worst fear was getting into the locker room and it wasnt
reviewed. It was communicated to me that the booth saw it upstairs and their first look at it and
their second look was clean. You have to show possession as you hit the ground and it was close,
but he didnt catch it.
Q: Do you have any special feelings going back to Chicago?
A: Home for me is Chicago. Thats where I went to junior high, high school and college. The
obvious first concern is the ticket request. I have a lot of friends there and family there. Its a
great sports town and always has been. There are a lot of good memories for me in that city and
growing up nearby in Naperville. When you look at the itinerary we arrive on a Saturday and
leave on a Sunday, so there really is not time for a lot- you get in there and its business. You
have meetings in the evenings, you eat and you go to bed. You get up early the next day and you
play the game. Its more on the opponent now and in this case the Bears and dealing with all the
problems they can create. Sure, its special because its a place Im familiar with and consider
home, but outside of that its just another game.
Q: Do you have any relatives who still live in the area?
A: My sister and niece live in Skokie. My parents retired a few years back from that area. I still
keep in touch with a lot of people up there, high school and college buddies.
Q: Who were your players and teams growing up in Illinois?
A: It was the Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks. You had to be either a Cubs or a White Sox fan and
I probably rooted more for the Cubs. I was college when the Bears won that Super Bowl in 1985-
86 and I spent a lot of time watching the great success of the Bulls. So, its a great sports town
and its a great place to call home. I would consider myself a Midwesterner and I think thats a
Q: What advice do you have for Saints fans headed up to Chicago for the game?
A: The weather will be cold but that wont be a problem. The gumbo down here is spicy enough.
Getting a ticket will be difficult- good luck. Our support wherever we travel has been great. Its
always more challenging in the postseason because of demand on tickets. Its an exciting time.
To play in an NFC Championship game is special. Its a lot like all the playoff games in that
there is finality for the winner and loser. Our fans here have been outstanding and the
opportunity to play in this game is significant and were looking forward to it.
Q: Can you talk about your time as a replacement player?
A: It was three and a half weeks. We were all young out of college and looking to make our
impression on the football world. Mike Ditka was the head coach at that time and ironically we
finished our last game against New Orleans. The last pass I threw was an interception.
Q: Who does Bears quarterback Rex Grossman remind you of?
A: Thats a good question. You know I think all of the quarterbacks in our league are somewhat
different. Hes a guy that is obviously one of the leaders on their team. Against the Seahawks he
had the weight of a lot of people on his shoulders and playing in his first playoff game of this
season, I thought he was outstanding. I watched him yesterday and he hits the deep throw, the
third-down throw and the overtime throw to set-up the field goal. Its a funny business because
youre graded each week on your last performance. Youre talking about a team that is the
number one seed in the NFC. The quarterback position always carries a little more criticism or
applause than is sometimes necessary and certainly in a big city that is always a challenge and
hes handled it well. Lovie (Smith) has done a great job of handling it and most important his
teammates have a belief in him.
Q: Did Mike Ditka play a role in influencing your coaching style?
A: My time with him was so brief. It was a month. I think that growing up there and watching
the success he had with that team in leading them to a Super Bowl Championship, you certainly
saw his competitive spirit and what he brought to that team. It was significant and it was a team
that it seems like everyone else is measured against. The next time the Bulls are in the heat of it
they will be measured against the Bulls that won six championships. Thats just how our sports
are. That success at that time that Mike brought to the Bears with the team that they had was
outstanding and exciting for everyone.
Q: If you make a call that doesnt work, do you dread it after?
A: I dont think so. I think that you when a games over, just as you want for your players, you
just want to know that you did your best and that you did your homework during the course of
the week. There are two or three instances on Saturday night where the two point play debate
occurred. Ive said all along that we go for two points in the fourth quarter. If its a low scoring
game, you consider going a hair earlier, but if its a high scoring game, you certainly wait until
the fourth quarter. Its one of those things were you can always be the devils advocate. I didnt
get any questions about two point conversions the other night. If we had lost that game, I would
have had 80 questions about the two point play. Philosophically, you know how I stand on that.
It ended up being a three point game. Had we gone for a two point play along the road and not
gotten it and they kicked the field goal to win, there would have been a lot of questions, too. You
trust your gut and instincts. You have a belief and a conviction on what you want to accomplish.
You stick with them and you hope it serves you well. Theres pressure behind some of those
decisions that youre talking about, but thats part of the deal.
Q: Can you talk about the job Mickey Loomis has done and some of the things he has done to
help the team?
A: When the game ended, we gave Mickey the game ball. Youd be hard-pressed to go through
that locker room and find somebody that he wasnt involved in signing or dealing with in some
shape or form, starting with me and going all the way down through player 53 on our roster.
Hes given us great support. I think hes a great decision maker. I think hes always well thought
out in regards to the decisions he has to make. I think he has a tremendous amount of respect
from not only our coaching staff and ownership, but also the players and everyone else in the
building. Hes a guy thats had to take this team from a year and a half or two years ago with
everything that went on and needed to be relocated. I cant even imagine the magnitude of issues
that come up in his position when something like that occurs. He handled that, the transition
back here from San Antonio, as well as getting the coaching, the coaching staff and players very
well. All of those things fall under his umbrella and I think hes done a great job. He'd probably
also say that hes supported well with a great group of guys working for him in Russ Ball, Rick
Mueller and the scouting department on the pro and college side, but its been a really good fit.
Hes somebody thats given me great support. I thought it was appropriate to give him the game
ball after that first win.
Q: Now that youve been in New Orleans a year, has the entire year been a whirlwind for you?
A: The seasons always a little bit of a whirlwind, because of the schedule. Were a little bit
insulated, a lot more than you guys would be. As a coaching staff, were in early and out late.
Occasionally we get exposed to whats going on outside of the building. Im sure down the road
there will be a time when you reflect more on it. Right now, the focus is Chicago and going
through our traditional routine and putting a plan in place that gives your players a chance to
Q: Can you recall a situation where a high profile rookie like Reggie Bush has come in and
had enormous team success in their first year?
A: Im sure there are probably some if you went back and charted the winning teams like New
England and Pittsburgh. You always hope you can receive contributions from your high draft
picks. He brings a confidence with him. Its not his first big game. A lot of these players have
played in big football games and National Championship games. Devery Henderson
against Oklahoma in the National Championship game three years ago. Jammal Brown
that game. Those college games are significant. We tried to talk a little about that last week. We
had a video put together. A lot was said about not having playoff experience. I dont know how
you get it until you play. These guys have played in a lot of big games. In Reggies case, hes
played in a number of big games. We all get butterflies and excited about playing and we all
have our own way of handling that excitement and that pressure. Its the thing that you miss
when the seasons over. Its the thing that you miss when you stop playing. Its the thing that you
miss when youre no longer around football, that feeling of when you were a high school player
on Friday night. Saturday came around when you were a college player and it shows up on
Sunday morning for me as a coach. Youre looking forward to the opportunity. You become
excited about it. Feeling those butterflies and all of those things that go with big games is
healthy. I think these guys have been in that environment in high school, college and the NFL.
Q: How did it all come together for you to obtain six starters and contributors out of the draft?
A: Theres a lot of communication and work done on behalf of the scouts and personnel staff.
You start your preparation on the players you are grading as well as the pro end where you look
at the Jeff Faines. This comes into play when all of a sudden you can back up and acquire
and Jeff Faine
and back up and acquire Jahri Evans
and Hollis Thomas
trying to find players that fit what you are looking for first. Going out and doing it is just as
challenging. Those are decisions that three years from now you look back on and hopefully they
serve you well. The key is putting two, three or four years together of those type of drafts and offseason
acquisitions and sticking to your convictions in exactly what you are looking for in a
Q: Have you spoken to Bill Parcells recently?
A: I spoke to him last week briefly after the Seattle game. We spoke a little bit. I called him to
see how he was doing. He was doing well. We spoke for five minutes. He was very supportive
and excited for our opportunity. I know he was disappointed in the way their game finished.
Thats the last I spoke to him.
Q: Are you aware of the history of this franchise in the context of what you have
A: Each year you start with a group that wants to accomplish a lot. When you set your goals
high, which we try to do here, you hope as the season goes on that you can get into position to
play in a championship game; an NFC Championship game and on to the Super Bowl. Years
from now, you guys will be able to grade the teams, the history and all those types of things, but I
think that the importance of this team getting to a place that no other team in this organization's
history is something that is an accomplishment. Yet, there is still work to be done. I think the
players still feel like the challenge is in front of us here. We have a really good football team
were playing on Sunday with great opportunities. Youre down to four teams. Youre in the final
four. With that being said, the four teams left are all going to be good football teams that are
going to have to execute, tackle and block and theyre going to have to protect the football to get
to that next game. Its a big challenge.
Q: What does getting this opportunity mean to you?
A: I think the players would say it and I know that the coaches would say, as well, that you
understand and appreciate that there are a lot of things that go on to get to this point. You just
have to go around the room. This is the fourth opportunity for me in the postseason in nine years
in the NFL. Each coach has a different background. Some of it falls from where you were
working as an assistant. Some of it falls from where you were playing as a player, but they dont
come around every year. It doesnt come around ten or 15 times in your career. There are
opportunities that come up. Its important to take advantage of the opportunities and to
understand that when its in front of you, its hard to get here and hard to be in these games. If it
was easy there would be a lot more people with Super Bowl rings on their hands. Winning
championships is very difficult. Thats what probably makes it so gratifying.
Q: Can you discuss how Jahri Evans and Steve Weatherford played in the game?
A: He (Evans) was outstanding. It was probably his best game of the year. His postseason
experience against East Stroudsburg was pretty good. Weatherford made a nice play in avoiding
a potentially disastrous play. Hes a good athlete. I thought he initially was going to run and
punt. He kept running. I was glad he made the first down.
Q: Was that an ad-libbed play?
Q: Do you work on how to deal with those situations in practice?
A: You practice a field goal awry where you scramble and you practice some of those things.
Asides from Dan Dalrymple running Steve Weatherford for conditioning drills, thats probably
the first time hes had to run 30 yards.
Q: Was Walter Payton one of your favorite players?
A: Walter was one of them, aside from the fact that I have the same last name. He was a great
player on that team when they werent great. He was outstanding. It was neat to see him play on
a winning team at the end of his career. He was a great player on that team when they werent
as good and was obviously one of the best running backs to ever play the game.
Q: How will you handle playing in a cold weather game?
A: You know going in that theres going to be different environments. You become adjusted and
get used to the footing and the noise you have to deal with. You go over all the ways to stay
warm. We played in New York and Pittsburgh not too long ago. You try to address those things
and take care of them. I think when the game starts and the temperature is in the 20s. I think
with the players, its not until after the fact in a hot shower that you realize how cold it was. I
think that the conditions are obviously important to get adjusted to in terms of how you play, so
that youre not slipping or falling. Outside of that, I think you become acclimated quickly.
Q: How much confidence do you have in Fred Thomas this week?
A: I have a lot of confidence in him. We just saw one of the better offenses we played all year.
Hes a big reason why we were ranked 11th on defense this season compared to where we were
in the past. Were sitting in this position playing in the conference championship game. I have a
ton of confidence in him. Hes made big plays for us all season long. Donte Stallworth
great job on third down and made a play. Hes been around this long enough and he
understands exactly how to play in these games.
Q: Will you practice outdoors this week in preparation for Chicago?
A: I dont know yet.
Q: Will you conduct one walk through outdoors in Chicago?
A: Probably not. Seattle had one because they traveled on a Friday and came from further away.
We usually travel on Saturday and get to the hotel. We meet, go to sleep, eat and we play.