Bears' history on Thanksgiving Day

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Bears' history on Thanksgiving Day

Few things are better on Thanksgiving Day than turkey and time with family, but football may be one of them. From Turkey Bowls in the backyards and at local parks to the three NFL games each year, football has become part of the holiday.
And while the Bears have certainly left their mark on the history of the NFL, they also have done the same on Thanksgiving.
The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys currently host games annually, but the Bears were actually the first team to do so. From 1922 to 1933, the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals played annually, going 7-3-2 in that span. The 1932 game against the Cardinals marked the last time the Bears played a home game on the holiday.
But the Bears' annual turkey day game didn't end there, as they played the next five seasons against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, going 2-3 in that span. All five games were played in Detroit.
The Bears didn't play again on Thanksgiving until 1947, when they went back to Detroit for a 34-14 win. Two years later, they won again in Detroit, 28-7.
The Bears first played Dallas in 1952, falling 27-23 against the Texans in a game played in Akron.
The Cowboys, then members of the AFL, began their annual series in 1966. The Bears did not play the Cowboys until 1981, a 10-9 loss in Dallas.
Walter Payton enjoyed success on his first Thanksgiving Day game, rushing for 137 yards and a touchdown along with 107 receiving yards and another score in a 31-14 win.
Chicago has dropped its last three Thanksgiving Day games, last winning in 1993 with a 10-6 win in Detroit. Its most recent game was a 21-7 loss in Dallas.
The franchise's largest Thanksgiving Day win came in 1928, with a 34-0 home win against the Cardinals. A year later, the Cardinals returned the favor with a 40-6 win.
The worst loss in Thanksgiving Day history was a 55-20 defeat at the hands of Barry Sanders and the Lions. The Bears held a 20-17 lead at halftime before 38 unanswered second-half points. Sanders ran 167 yards and three touchdowns.
Since 1920, the Bears' franchise has played 32 times on Thanksgiving, fourth most in history. Only the Lions (72), Cowboys (44) and Packers (34) have played more.
Here's a complete list of the Bears' Thanksgiving Day games, per Chicago Sports Memories:
1920: W, 6-0 at Chicago Tigers (Staleys)
1921: L, 7-6 vs. Buffalo All-Americans (Staleys)
1922: L, 6-0 at Cardinals
1923: W, 3-0 vs. Cardinals
1924: W, 21-0 at Cardinals
1925: T, 0-0 vs. Cardinals
1926: T, 0-0 vs. Cardinals
1927: L, 3-0 vs. Cardinals
1928: W, 34-0 vs. Cardinals
1929: L, 40-6 vs. Cardinals
1930: W, 6-0 vs. Cardinals
1931: W, 18-7 vs. Cardinals
1932: W, 24-0 vs. Cardinals
1933: W, 22-6 at Cardinals
1934: W, 19-16 at Lions
1935: L, 14-2 at Lions
1936: L, 13-7 at Lions
1937: W, 13-0 at Lions
1938: L, 14-7 at Lions
1947: W, 34-14 at Lions
1949: W, 28-7 at Lions
1952: L, 27-23 vs. Dallas Texans (in Akron, Ohio)
1964: W, 27-24 at Lions
1977: W, 31-14 at Lions
1979: L, 20-0 at Lions
1980: W, 23-17 (OT) at Lions
1981: L, 10-9 at Cowboys
1991: L, 16-6 at Lions
1993: W, 10-6 at Lions
1997: L, 55-20 at Lions
1999: L, 21-17 at Lions
2004: L, 21-7 at Cowboys

Looking back at Texas in 2013 and setting Notre Dame’s defensive expectations

Looking back at Texas in 2013 and setting Notre Dame’s defensive expectations

After allowing 40 points in an embarrassing road loss at Brigham Young three years ago, Texas coach Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Diaz, whose defense only had one sack at the time of his firing, was replaced by a defensive analyst with coordinator experience. Sound familiar?

In-season, high-profile coordinator firings aren’t completely unheard of at the college level, but they are rare. So with Notre Dame replacing Brian VanGorder with Greg Hudson on Sunday, we can look back at Texas’ 2013 season as a rough blueprint for setting expectations for the Irish defense going forward. 

And the expectation is this: A mid-season firing of a coordinator probably won’t fix a broken defense. It didn’t necessarily do that at Texas. 

Like VanGorder’s 2015 defense, Diaz’s group in 2012 was inconsistent and prone to debilitating showings: West Virginia, Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State all scored 40 or more points against the Longhorns, with Texas losing three of those four games in a 9-4 season. 

So with championship expectations still on Brown at Texas, and a defense clearly in regression, Brown fired Diaz — who earned $700,000, about $400,000 lower than the salary ESPN reported VanGorder earned in 2014 — just two games into the 2013 season. Here’s how Texas fared after jettisoning Diaz and promoting former Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson to that post in Austin:

Lost, 44-23, vs. Ole Miss (allowed 6.24 yards per play)
Won, 31-21, vs. Kansas State (allowed 5.74 yards per play)
Won, 31-30, at Iowa State (allowed 6.01 yards per play)
Won, 36-20, vs. Oklahoma (allowed 4.46 yards per play)
Won, 30-7, at TCU (allowed 3.90 yards per play)
Won, 35-13, vs. Kansas (allowed 5.19 yards per play)
Won, 47-40, at West Virginia (allowed 4.81 yards per play)
Lost, 38-13, vs. Oklahoma State (allowed 6.13 yards per play)
Won, 41-16. vs Texas Tech (allowed 4.95 yards per play)
Lost, 30-10, at Baylor (allowed 5.52 yards per play)
Lost, 30-7, vs. Oregon (allowed 6.90 yards per play)

Texas still struggled to stop the Big 12’s most powerful offenses in Oklahoma State and Baylor, as well as Oregon in the Alamo Bowl. That win over Oklahoma certainly was impressive — the Sooners went on to beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl — and this group did do better in terms of putting pressure on opposing offenses, but for the most part, Texas’ defense was still an up-and-down group. 

Its defense did well against Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU and Texas Tech but struggled to stop Ole Miss, Iowa State and West Virginia. Robinson didn’t magically turn Texas into a reliably-competitive defense: The Longhorns finished 44th in defensive S&P+, 57th in scoring defense (25.8 PPG) and 62nd in yards per play (5.48). It wasn’t good enough to allow Texas to compete for a Big 12 championship (of course, it's worth noting Texas' offense wasn't, either). 

Notre Dame’s circumstances are different, with the Irish possessing a much better offense this year than Texas had three years ago (Case McCoy and a banged-up David Ash were largely ineffective) but less talent on defense (both Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed totaled double-digit sacks; Notre Dame only has one sack as a team through four games). 

But the lesson here is that a mid-season coordinator change shouldn’t be expected to completely fix a defense. For Notre Dame’s sake, it has to hope Hudson can, at least, inject something into this defense to marginally improve it enough to get the Irish to six wins and bowl eligibility. 

Funky style has Todd Frazier leading White Sox in stolen bases

Funky style has Todd Frazier leading White Sox in stolen bases

It may not be very pretty, but it’s hard to argue with the effectiveness of Todd Frazier’s stolen base technique.

Despite employing a walking-lead style that his manager loves to harp on, Frazier swiped two more bags in Sunday’s victory over the Cleveland Indians. Frazier’s 14 stolen bases this season not only leads the team, it’s also the most by a White Sox third baseman since Luis Salazar also stole 14 bases in 1985.

“He’s got that sneaky little stolen base thing where he sneaks off there,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He looks like a fan ran on the field. It works. I don’t know how to explain it, but it works.”

Frazier has learned how to make it work.

Successful only 58.5 percent of the time in his first three minor league seasons, Frazier adapted his style after he and Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan discussed his leads. Frazier, who was successful in only 24 of 41 tries between Cincinnati’s Rookie League team and Double-A, said the talk resulted in an alteration and drastically improved results. Frazier’s success rate increased to 81.8 percent at Triple-A as he was successful in 36 of 44 tries.

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Frazier has converted 57 of 85 tries in the majors (67 percent), including 14 of 19 this season.

“Basically every time I stole a base my first move would be coming up in the standstill,” Frazier said. “(Morgan) taught me the walking lead, basically because the more you get your momentum going toward the base I have one or two steps ahead of somebody. We went over that a little bit, I started working on it in Triple-A and I’d get about 15 stolen bags a year. I’m not the fastest guy, but if I can a step ahead and get two or three or four when the guy throws it they’re not going to be be able to throw it. Sometimes I’ll get picked off and you’ll be like, ‘What is he doing?’ But I’ll take five or six of those a year to get to second base and get two big runs there for us.”

Frazier’s steals on Sunday led to two of three runs scored by the White Sox. Even more important (for the purposes of bragging rights), the stolen bases gave Frazier the team lead over Adam Eaton, who has 12 steals.

“I told Eaton I was going to get him, no problem,” Frazier said. “I told him ‘I’m coming for you,’ and I got two today so I took the lead, which is pretty cool.”

Ventura still isn’t quite sure how Frazier does it. But he’s impressed nonetheless.

“He’s not a normal looking base stealer, but he’s able to create some havoc when he’s out there” Ventura said.