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.

After 20 years, Dan Sharp steps down as Joliet Catholic head coach

After 20 years, Dan Sharp steps down as Joliet Catholic head coach

Joliet Catholic Academy head football coach Dan Sharp has resigned his coaching position at the school and will retain his athletic director position.

"It was time," Sharp said. "It's been a long, great and wonderful coaching career for me coaching the Hilltoppers, and now it's the right time to step aside. It's been an emotional drain handling both jobs. I'm going to miss the kids and the coaches, but also it was just time."

Sharp hired assistant coach Jake Jaworski as the school's next varsity football coach. Jaworski, a teacher at Joliet Catholic Academy, was also a multi-sport athlete and starting defensive back on Joliet Catholic's state-championship teams in 2000 and 2001.

"It's not very often that you are allowed to hand-pick your successor," Sharp said. "Jaws is more than ready to take over the program and bring in some excitement, and I know that I'm leaving the football program into great hands."

Sharp, who posted a 199-51 record in 20 seasons at Joliet Catholic (223-69 record overall in 24 years), is also excited to help his new head coach take over the reins of one of the state's traditional power programs.

"I'm looking forward to getting Jake off to a good start."

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf knows 'it will be very hard to trade' Chris Sale

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf knows 'it will be very hard to trade' Chris Sale

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The baseball world has come to suburban DC for the winter meetings. In a hotel just steps away from the Potomac River, the White Sox are holding onto the biggest fish available.

But trading their ace Chris Sale might be tougher than it seems because of the White Sox steep asking price. Will any team meet their demands? That’s the question.

"You have to have four prospects who can’t possibly miss to get one," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told CSN. "I’ve seen so many players over the years who were going to be phenoms, they were going to be future Hall of Famers, and we don’t even remember what their names are anymore. That’s why when you’re trading a player of stature you’ve got to get multiple can’t-miss prospects back. That’s why it makes it tough to trade a player of great stature."

With the meetings in their hometown this year, the Washington Nationals could make quite the splash by acquiring Sale, which would give them a dominating 1-2 punch with Sale and Max Scherzer, not to mention Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals have the pieces to pull off such a deal, but they’ve reportedly been unwilling to trade their top prospect, Trea Turner, a 23-year-old who slashed .342/.370/.567 in 307 at-bats after getting called up last season. He can play second base, shortstop and center field. Oh, and he also stole 33 bases.

But Sale is no slouch himself. He’s finished in the top six in AL Cy Young voting in each of the last five seasons. And then there's his salary. He’s owed $12 million for 2017, with club options for each of the following two seasons at $12.5 million and $13.5 million. That’s three years for $38 million. Compare that with top free-agent pitcher Rich Hill, who is 10 years older than Sale and reportedly got a three-year, $48 million contract when he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday. This is one of the weakest free-agent classes for starting pitchers we’ve ever seen.

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On the surface, the White Sox hold all the cards. But so far teams are holding onto their top prospects like gold and have been unwilling to deal them even for one of the best pitchers in the game.

Knowing what Sale has meant to the franchise, Reinsdorf admitted "it will be very hard to trade him."

For it to happen, the White Sox don’t sound like they are willing to put Sale in the clearance section.

"We’d have to really feel we were coming back with a lot of goods, a lot of merchandise," Reinsdorf said.

But for the first time, the White Sox are open to trading Sale, an idea few could fathom a year ago.

"I’ve said it many, many times, I’ve only had one player that couldn’t be traded (Michael Jordan), and the only reason he couldn’t be traded was that I would have been shot dead the day after,” Reinsdorf said. “We love our players, and we want our players when their careers are over to say that 'the best place I played was with the White Sox.' But again our obligation is to the fans to make our teams as good as we can make them, and we have to look at the players basically as assets and if we can make a team better by trading somebody no matter how much we love the guy, we have to go ahead and do it.

"Having said that, I don’t know what’s going to happen here."