Bears offensive report card just good enough

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Bears offensive report card just good enough

Call it a workmanlike effort, nothing special, except that it was good enough to win. The offense finished with 296 yards and 13 points, lowest point total in a win since the 10-0 victory against the New York Jets in 2006.

The critical element was not turning the ball over in a close game and the Bears didnt, while defense and special teams were taking the ball away four times from the Detroit Lions.

QUARTERBACK C

Most of the breath left Soldier Field when Jay Cutler went down with a rib injury in the second quarter, bringing on Jason Campbell for a total of five plays.

Cutlers rollout and measured flip to Brandon Marshall produced the Bears first first-quarter TD since the Indianapolis game and only touchdown of the night. Cutler hurt the Lions with his scrambles in the first half, totaling 34 yards on three runs.

Passing was so-so, with 16 completions in 31 attempts for 150 yards and a 76.0 rating, but done in the face of five sacks.

RUNNING BACKS B

Matt Fortes 39-yard gallop through the Detroit right side set up the first Bears score and Forte finished with 96 yards on 22 carries in addition to three pass receptions, though for a net of four yards. Michael Bush added 36 yards on six carries.

The combination of backs averaged 4.7 yards per carry, many of the yards coming after first hits.

RECEIVERS B

Brandon Marshall had the better of Calvin Johnson for the evening, with a TD catch in the first quarter and two big third-down catches in the second, both for conversions. Marshall tied for the game high with six receptions for a total of 81 yards.

Devin Hesters 23-yard run with a fourth-quarter screen pass got the Bears out of a hole. He caught three of the six passes directed his way and combined with Earl Bennetts three to give some balance opposite Marshall, who faced double coverage much of the game.

Tight ends were not much of a factor receiving (one of four targets) but Kellen Davis, Matt Spaeth and Kyle Adams contributed with run blocking.

OFFENSIVE LINE C-

Protection of Cutler in the first half was generally adequate but he was sacked five times in the game and hit another nine times. Cutler contributed to problems by holding the ball too long on occasion but he also was running from pressure too often.

Run blocking by left guard Chilo Rachal and left tackle JMarcus Webb broke Fortes big first-quarter run and the Bears were able to achieve some run-pass balance.

Gabe Carimi had a second straight difficult evening with a pair of penalties and Rachal took an ill-advised personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter. Robeto Garza was called for a pair of false starts.

COACHING B

Commitment to the run was critical against the Detroit pass rush from the front four. Coaches called 41 pass plays, including the four QB scrambles, and ran the ball 28 times against a defense stacked to take Matt Forte away.

James Shields beats former team in White Sox win against Rays

James Shields beats former team in White Sox win against Rays

James Shields’ tenure with the White Sox hasn’t gone well, but Monday was one of the bright spots. And it came against his former team.

Shields didn’t exactly keep the visiting Tampa Bay Rays off base, but he kept them mostly off the scoreboard, allowing just one run over his six innings of work as the White Sox won the first game of a four-game set, 7-1, at U.S. Cellular Field.

For just the third time since the beginning of August, Shields allowed two or fewer runs, and he did against Tampa Bay, with whom he spent the first seven seasons of his career.

Shields didn’t exactly make it easy on himself, putting multiple base runners on in four of his six innings, but just one run scored from all of those jams. He finished with a line of one run on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings. The win was Shields’ first since July 26, his sixth of the season and only his fourth since joining the White Sox at the beginning of June.

But getting into jams wasn’t unique to Shields, with relievers Tommy Kahnle and Nate Jones starting the seventh and eighth innings by putting the first two runners on. But double plays in each of those frames helped the pitchers escape unscathed. The White Sox infield turned four double plays on the night.

As far as the offenses went, the White Sox struck first with a run in the first. Melky Cabrera doubled with one out and scored two batters later on Justin Morneau’s sacrifice fly.

The Rays tied the game in the fourth, Curt Casali singling home Jaff Decker to make it 1-1. But the White Sox struck back in the bottom of that same inning, with Omar Narvaez’s sacrifice fly plating Todd Frazier, who led off the inning with a double and stole third base, his team-leading 15th swipe of the season. The White Sox got another run an inning later when Jose Abreu singled in Leury Garcia.

But the real insurance came in the later innings, when Justin Morneau followed an Abreu walk in the seventh with a two-run home run to right field, boosting the White Sox lead to 5-1, and Carlos Sanchez bashed a two-run shot in the eighth to make it a 7-1 game.

The win was the White Sox third straight, their second set of three consecutive wins this month.

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

Bulls' Jimmy Butler wants tough coaching from Fred Hoiberg this season

 

Much was made of the Jimmy Butler-Fred Hoiberg dynamic last year.

As the duo head into Year 2 together with a very different Bulls roster, Jimmy Butler was very clear about one thing he wants out of his coach this season.

“I told Fred, ‘As much as you can, use me as an example,’” Butler said during the team’s media day on Monday. “I want you to really get on my tail about every little thing because if Doug (McDermott) or Tony (Snell) or whoever it may be, if watching coach talk to me like that he’s going to be like ‘If he can talk to Jimmy like that I know he’s going to come at me a certain way.’ So that’s what I try to remind him everyday. I think he’s ready for that. I’m a player. I’m coachable like everybody else, but I want that. I need that.”

Butler’s show of confidence in his coach didn’t stop at his belief that Hoiberg could follow through on Butler’s desire to be coached hard. The All-Star believes Hoiberg has improved as a coach heading into his second year on the job.

“It was his first year last year and I think he studied himself and us and the way we were up and down in so many areas of the game last year,” Butler said. “He’s trying to correct it. That’s just like anybody going into the offseason. He didn’t just not work. He studied and got better at what he needed to get better at. I think he’s ready moving forward.”