Bears passing 'O' looking in wrong direction vs. Seattle


Bears passing 'O' looking in wrong direction vs. Seattle

In the NFL, just like in real life, be careful what you wish for. You may get it.

Brandon Marshall expressed excitement on Wednesday at the prospect of going against one-on-one coverage from the Seattle Seahawks defense, specifically in the form of cornerbacks Richard Stewart and Brandon Browner.

Best guess is that this is some sort of gamesmanship on Marshalls part, professing to hope for single coverage from two of the better cornerbacks in the NFC. Browner was a Pro Bowl selection; Sherman was All-Rookie team in 2011.

Ive been excited about this game for some time just because of that, Marshall said. Whenever you get a chance to play a little one on one, its exciting. Ive been watching film and I saw what they did against Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions and Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals. They threw some Cover 2 in there but for the most part they do what they do. Im excited about that.

Beware the problems

The problem with that, if Marshall really is excited about his matchups with the Seattle secondary, is that Johnson caught exactly three passes for just 46 total yards against the Seahawks. Fitzgerald caught four. Neither receiver scored against Seattle.

The bigger problem with that is that the Bears have lost the only two games in which Marshall caught fewer than five passes (Green Bay, San Francisco, two vs. each). Marshall may be excited at what he has seen the Seahawks do vs. Fitzgerald and Johnson but the message there is that he thinks he can do what neither of those could do.

And the biggest problem of all is that with Marshall as the center of the offense, the Bears have the worst passing offense in the NFL (32nd in yards per game, 30th in yards per pass play). The Bears are 8-3 through little fault of the passing offense.

Still, Cutler is going to keep going to Marshall, period.

Whenever he gets in that zone he was on Sunday 12 catches vs. Minnesota, just feed him the ball, Cutler said. Just find him the ball. Just find a way. If Bs not No. 1 in the progression, go to him anyway. He just makes it happen.

Numbers vs. wins

Marshall and Cutler appear to be overlooking the fairly significant fact that the Lions and Cardinals, two 4-7 teams, both beat the Seahawks.

A major reason: While the Seahawks were dealing with Johnson, Titus Young was catching nine passes (for 100 yards, two TDs), Brandon Pettigrew snagged seven and Tony Scheffler four. The Seahawks took care of Fitzgerald but neglected Andre Roberts, who caught five passes, one for a touchdown.

Arizona and Detroit both stopped feeding their elite receivers and went elsewhere. And won.

Roberts has 50 catches this season. After Marshall (81) the Bears have no receiver with more than Matt Fortes 27 and hes a running back. Only twice this season has a Bear caught more than four passes (Forte five vs. Carolina, Alshon Jeffery five vs. St. Louis).

If not Marshall, who?

To his credit, Marshall does see the problem in the offense even as he likes seeing the ball come his way as much as it has.

Its impressive that were moving the ball, but there is a sense of urgency to get other guys the ball, Marshall said, without specifying where the extra footballs will come from. I was really excited about Jay spreading it around last week. Probably got seven or eight different guys involved, just getting a touch.

It doesnt matter if its one or two catches, as long as other guys are involved, it makes it easier for our whole team. Were going to lean on Earl a lot this week. Were going to lean on some of the other guys that are stepping up and playing this week to make some plays. Im excited.

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Morning Update: Cubs open World Series tonight; Hawks lose in shootout

Here are some of the biggest stories from the day in Chicago sports:

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Same old story on the penalty kill

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Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

Why Cubs wouldn't pay the price for Andrew Miller and got Aroldis Chapman from Yankees

CLEVELAND — As the New York Yankees marketed Andrew Miller this summer and prepared for their first sell-off in a generation, their demands started at either Kyle Schwarber or Javier Baez — and the Cubs still would have been forced to throw in more talent to get the All-Star reliever.

This could be the fascinating what-if for this World Series. The Cleveland Indians paid the price, giving up a four-player package headlined by outfielder Clint Frazier (the fifth overall pick in the 2013 draft) and left-hander Justus Sheffield (the No. 31 pick in the 2014 draft) to get what turned out to be the American League Championship Series MVP.

The Cubs didn’t make Schwarber untouchable because they thought he would be ready in time for the World Series, but he’s preparing to be their Game 1 designated hitter on Tuesday night at Progressive Field after a remarkable recovery from major surgery on his left knee.

“It was impossible to avoid some of the names — particularly the Cubs — (with) the year they were having,” Miller said. “Whether I wanted to avoid it or not I heard it. Guys in the clubhouse, our media was certainly bringing it to us.”

Even in other possible deals for pitching, the Cubs never came close to selling low on Baez, who broke out as the National League Championship Series co-MVP for his offensive production and defensive wizardry. 

Instead of getting Miller’s late-game dominance for three pennant races — and giving up five potential 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons with Schwarber — the Cubs closed a different blockbuster deal with the Yankees for a left-handed power arm.

The Cubs wanted Aroldis Chapman’s 100-mph fastball to get the last out of the World Series and would rationalize his 30-game suspension to begin this season under Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence policy. Already holding an age-22 All-Star shortstop in Addison Russell, the Cubs surrendered elite prospect Gleyber Torres.

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“Gleyber’s a good baseball player,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That kid’s going to be really good. So you have to give up something to get something. But also our guys felt if we got Aroldis this year, we’d have a chance to be sitting here and answering this question. And they were right.

“It’s an entirely different thing when you get a guy out there throwing 100 miles an hour. You feel pretty good about it, regardless of who is hitting. So he’s really a big part of why we’re doing this right now.”

Chapman has saved five playoff games — and become that reassuring ninth-inning presence at Wrigley Field — but he clearly responds better to a scripted role.

Miller has been untouchable during the postseason, throwing 11 2/3 scoreless innings and striking out 21 of the 41 batters he’s faced, giving Terry Francona even more freedom to manage a lights-out Cleveland bullpen.

“To be utilized like Miller,” Maddon said, “not everybody is cut from the same cloth mentally, either, or the ability to get loose and prepare. Andrew Miller — having done a variety of different things in the big leagues as a pitcher — is probably more suited to be able to be this guy that can get up in the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth and warm up in a manner that gets him in the game both mentally and physically.

“Whereas Aroldis — if he wanted to do that — I think that would have had to be done from spring training. He’d have to differentiate his mindset. He’d have to have a different way to get ready. I do notice he throws a heavy baseball before he actually throws a regular baseball. That’s his routine.

“Whether you agree with it or not, that’s just the way it is. So with a guy like Aroldis — to ask him to attempt to dump his routine right now (and) do something else — I think you’re looking for failure right there.

“We stretched him to five outs the other night, which is a good thing, I thought. So now going forward he knows he can do that. But to just haphazardly throw him in the sixth, seventh or ninth, I think would be very difficult to do.”

Even in a World Series featuring historic droughts, Cy Young Award winners, MVP candidates and star managers, this October could come down to the bullpens shaped by deals with the Yankees.

“Both teams made aggressive trades,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “Both teams are still standing. There’s something to that.”