LM: How special is it for the Bears to be one of the NFLís last four teams still playing?
JA: ďItís great. Itís a great accomplishment because you donít back into the conference championship games. Youíve got to earn your way. Weíre excited to be here, but certainly not satisfied. Itís going to be a great challenge for us. Green Bay is probably the hottest team in football right now, so weíre going to have our hands full. Weíre playing in Chicago, which is great for our fans. Thatís something that weíre very happy about.Ē
LM: How difficult is it to get to this point?
JA: ďYou donít understand it until youíve had to live it and live it every year. I know people who have been in this business their whole career and never got to this point, let alone the Super Bowl. Itís very difficult. You canít assume anything. People keep talking about parity. Itís about parity and itís also about momentum; how teams play on each given Sunday, and we saw that again. Who would have ever thought that both No. 1 seeds would get beat as they did? But again, you donít know. Youíve got to be at your best all the time. To get to this point, all four teams are very deserving, and these should be great games.Ē
LM: As you mentioned, the Packers are red hot. How big of a challenge will they present Sunday?
JA: ďItís tough because thereís less room for error. You canít make mistakes in big games like this one against a hot team. Youíve got to play almost error-free football. Obviously the intensity of how you have to play speaks for itself. Thatís every week. But then you have to play smart football. It comes back to not making mistakes and not giving up big plays. Thatís going to determine the outcome of the game as well as how both quarterbacks play. When you get to the big games, those are usually the determining factors.Ē
LM: The East-West Shrine Game will be held Saturday and the Senior Bowl is slated for the following weekend. Does playing for the NFC title prevent the Bears from keeping tabs on those college all-star games?
JA: ďNo. Weíre business as usual. Weíll have our scouts at those games as we always do. Weíve had our initial draft meetings and have targeted players we want to see. So nothing really changes our routine. Weíre always working ahead, and this is no different. Itís just more exciting. Thereís more enthusiasm from our scouts. The energy they now have to do their jobs is heightened and well it should be because they see their hard work paying off and thatís a byproduct of winning. Everybody feels great about their job and their team.Ē