Cutler and Cam: Whats wrong with these pictures?

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Cutler and Cam: Whats wrong with these pictures?

Cam Newton is struggling. Or is he?

The Carolina Panthers quarterbacks 84.5 passer rating from his epic rookie season of 2011 is down a little to 79.3. He threw 17 interceptions last season; he has thrown six in 2012, on pace for 19.

His completion percentage has dipped a little from 60 to 58.4.

His team is 1-5 and has lost four straight games. But the Panthers were 1-5 at this juncture of Newtons rookie season as well, although they never lost four in a row during the 6-10 season.

So what really is the problem with Cam Newton? The Bears arent quite seeing it, and if they are, theyre certainly not going to say.

I just think hes playing very well, said defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. The guy is a weapon, and right now, were very concerned with him.

Newton may have simply set the bar too high with his rookie season of impact plays and games, like 543 yards and 29 points on the Chicago Bears. Dan Marino was in a Super Bowl his second season and since Newton broke some of Marinos and others rookie records, without the benefit of an offseason, the assumption that he would take not the next step but rather the next leap.

I understand Im not perfect, Newton said. Im striving to be great. What other people may think or what other people may criticize me on, I take it for what its worth but continue to try to make myself better each and every opportunity that I get.

Yet if Newton is struggling to the point of Hall of Famer Warren Moon crying racism at the decibel level of the criticism, what does that make Cutler?

Cutler is off his 2011 production in passer rating (85.7 to 78.3), completion percentage (58 to 56.7) and interception rate (2.2 to 3.7). He has thrown one more INT than Newton but three more TD passes.

The difference is pretty simple: Newtons Panthers have lost four straight for their 1-5. Cutlers Bears have won four straight for their 5-1.

Ironically, Newton is being ravaged for his pouty demeanor through times of trouble. Sound familiar?

The Bears have focused on film of last years near-miss against Carolina as well as current games. But what they see, apart from spot problems that have left the Panthers with that record, not that much has really changed with Newton himself.

Hes fast, hes big, hes got a strong arm, hes mobile in the pocket, said coach Lovie Smith. With that strong arm he can make all the throws and they do a good job letting him display all those talents. They have some option plays that normally are reserved for quarterbacks who can run.

White Sox happy to retain, and drink beer from, Crosstown Cup

White Sox happy to retain, and drink beer from, Crosstown Cup

The White Sox had a little fun with the Crosstown Cup trophy after securing it for the third consecutive year.

Well, at least one player did for sure: Left fielder Melky Cabrera, according to first baseman Jose Abreu, drank some beer out of the trophy after the White Sox beat the Cubs, 3-0, Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. 

The White Sox retained the Crosstown Cup by virtue of winning the season series in 2014 (three wins, one loss), splitting in 2015 (three wins, three losses), and assuring themselves of at least a split in 2016 (two wins with two games to play). 

This isn’t like a college football rivalry trophy that gets passed between campuses every year. And baseball players generally aren't keen to over-emphasize four or six games over the course of a 162-game season. 

But the Crosstown Cup is still a trophy, and it’s one White Sox right fielder Adam Eaton appreciated receiving again. 

“Any time you win an award — I don’t care if my grandma gives me an award during checkers, I’m excited,” Eaton said. “I don’t really care. But if you play for anything there’s some extra emphasis there. I definitely do think guys take pride in it for sure. But more pride in it that our side of town is happy with us in that sense that we’ve taken the cup back. 

“You don’t want to put too much emphasis on any particular series. But at the same time, if it makes our fans happy that we got the cup back then that’s what we do.”

 

 

 

 

Bears approaching 2016 with change in attitude

Bears approaching 2016 with change in attitude

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – When John Fox succeeded Marc Trestman as Bears coach early last year, at the top of his to-do list was changing what was a palpable losing culture that had come to hang over the organization and Halas Hall. That involved changes of personnel, practices and even to the point of placing an emphasis on winning preseason games, not simply treating them as evaluation exercises.

This year, attitude adjustment is the least of his concerns. Besides the improvements even amid a season that ended 6-10 but was within a pair of missed field goals of going past .500, the additions of critical players have brought with them exactly what Fox wants, beginning with inside linebacker Danny Trevathan, bringing a Super Bowl ring from the Denver Broncos.

“I’ve experienced a lot of new attitudes here the past few years,” said guard Kyle Long. “This is above and beyond my favorite attitude that we’ve adopted.

“People throw the word ‘culture’ around, [but] it’s just taking pride in what you’re doing. You don’t get paid to play. You get paid to win. I’ve heard John Fox say that a million times and I’m sure I’ll hear him say it 2 million times this year.”

Culture means nothing unless it translates into wins because of a collective mindset. Trevathan, linebacker Jerrell Freeman, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, offensive linemen Ted Larsen and Bobbie Massie – all came from going to the playoffs at least twice in the past four years, Freeman and Trevathan three times.

The change was particularly evident during offseason sessions when members of the defense worked at a practice level that initially irritated some on offense, with coaches even joining in the chirping.

“I’m all about attitude and hustle and just playing ball,” said Trevathan. “I don’t care what happened before. You can always make up for it, just go 100 miles per hour and have fun.

“This game is short. Your attitude carries over to the team. There’s a lot of time when a team’s down you put your head down. I hate that. Even if we’re down we’re going to fight until the end. That’s what it’s all about, having that band of brothers and that attitude and going to, I won’t say ‘war,’ but going out there and battling together.”

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One word that surfaced from multiple players during offseason sessions was “hungry.” That was not something that was heard even as recent as last season despite the change in coaches. Without that as a starting attitude, mediocrity was not surprising in recent seasons.

“I think with this group the thing that kind of stands out is just how good a group a group of guys it is, and how important football is to them,” said quarterback Jay Cutler.

“I think you look at OTAs and you look at minicamp and you saw how competitive offense and defense and even special teams were. There weren’t any days where guys were laying off of it. Every single day, guys were getting after it trying to get better, and the competition level I felt was extremely high for being in OTAs and minicamp. Whether that’s gonna translate to wins, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

Bears open 2016 training camp with Pernell McPhee, two others on PUP list

Bears open 2016 training camp with Pernell McPhee, two others on PUP list

The 2015 Bears training camp began with rookie wide receiver Kevin White hampered by what would eventually become a season-ending stress fracture of his leg. The 2016 Bears will have White back in uniform but they will start training camp without one of the linchpins of their defense, placing rush-linebacker Pernell McPhee on the physically unable to perform list after he had offseason surgery on his left knee and did not participate in on-field work through final OTA’s and minicamp.

Additionally, the Bears announced that recently signed guard Amini Silatolu, coming off ACL surgery surgery, will also open camp on PUP, along with wide receiver Marquess Wilson, who injured his foot during organized team activities last month.

McPhee, the primary free-agency signing by GM Ryan Pace last offseason, was third on the Bears with six sacks but played a decreasing percentage of defensive sacks as last season wore on. He was deactivated for the St. Louis and Washington games, returned but played no more than 27 snaps in any of the final three games.

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The Bears worked to have him drop upwards of 10 pounds after playing last season at his then-customary mid-280s. That part of the program for McPhee was a success.

“He came in [at] a really good weight right now, really good shape right now,” Pace said. “We just got to acclimate himself into football activities so he’ll work with the trainers. … I know he’s been working hard over the summer so that’s very encouraging. And really in the OTAs, he wasn’t doing a lot of football stuff. He was doing stuff more on the side with our strength and conditioning coaches.”

McPhee is unlikely to play in preseason games although the Bears will not make that decision until closer to the start of games.