Cutler Unable to Hit Open Targets

Cutler Unable to Hit Open Targets

Monday, November 23rd

Bears Still In Hunt for Playoffs at 4-6, What, Am I Missing Something?

This is not a wide open lay up like Jay Cutler missed tonight. Technically, the Bears are still in the hunt for postseason play, but they would need some serious help like every NFC team contracting H1N1. At the very least, every team on the Bears remaining schedule to have an outside shot. When you look back on the season so far, realistically, the Bears should be 7-3 or 6-4 at worst. It is unfortunate because the Bears and Jay Cutler are much better than they have displayed on the field.

Make the Play

There are no do overs in the National Football League. It is a results oriented business where giving it the Old College Try does not cut it. Just ask former head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Dick Jauron. Jauron tried to win football games, just like Jay Cutler tried to complete passes to wide open receivers. When your opportunity is there to make a play, you have to come through. No one can blame Offensive Coordinator, Ron Turner, tonight for this outcome. He dialed up three sure TD calls that Jay has to complete.

Who knows, maybe Philly folds if Jay finds pay dirt along with boosting his confidence in the process. Think of how the game would have changed. The Bears would have been playing with a lead which dramatically changes play calling on both sidelines.

Footwork

I think I have harped on this enough, but Im sure you clearly witnessed what I have been talking about tonight. If Jay sets his feet and throws on balance, he is going to the podium with a 3 TD night. It would have restored faith, but more importantly, deflected criticism from a player who could use a breather. Tonights performance only raises the level of concern to defcon 4. Jays bad habits have to be corrected if he is to succeed in this town or any other NFL city. QB coach Pep Hamilton has to incorporate a series of drills to clean up Jays game from the waist down. His lively hood depends on it in relation to GM Jerry Angelos year end evaluations.

Decisions

Jay had a one on one meeting with Ron Turner early this week as predicted. It must have went over like a lead balloon because the decision making was lacking again tonight. Jay was forcing the football again and was lucky not to walk away with another 4 interception performance. The play that I find most unsettling was the first overthrow to Greg Olsen in the first half. The play is Zero Strong Slot, K-2 Y Bow. A play action pass where Greg runs a corner route and the FB eludes the end man on the line of scrimmage looking for the ball quick in the flat. The Eagles blitzed the TE side and technically the ball should have been thrown hot to FB Jason McKie. It is the easier throw and he might have turned up the sideline for a score. Jay decided to ignore the first read and although Greg was open, he has to hit it because he chose to go against the integrity of the play. Again, Jay must learn to weigh the risk and rewards of his decision making. He was fading away on the throw trying to negotiate the blitzer when he could have set up and delivered the ball on balance to the FB before the blitzer was ever an issue. If you make the riskier decision, you better make the play! They know the rules of the play as well and will now just see a replay repeatedly of a ball going incomplete over the outreached hands of Greg Olsen. Situational play and footwork cannot be emphasized enough with Jay.

Cubs: The Aroldis Chapman Show begins at Wrigley Field

Cubs: The Aroldis Chapman Show begins at Wrigley Field

Rage Against the Machine’s “Wake Up” blasted from the Wrigley Field sound system at 9:51 p.m. on Wednesday as Aroldis Chapman trotted toward the mound. Nothing would get lost in translation as the Cubs unleashed their new closer on the White Sox.

Chapman didn’t feel the full rush of adrenaline, because a revived offense scored five runs in the eighth inning, ending the save situation and any real suspense for the crowd of 41,166. The game within the game became looking up at the 3,990-square-foot LED video board in left field for the velocity reading after each pitch and listening to the oohs and aahs.

Chapman made it look easy against the middle of the White Sox lineup, with 13 of his 15 pitches clocked between 100 and 103 mph in the ninth inning of an 8-1 victory. That triple-digit default setting, fluid left-handed delivery and intimidating presence showed why the Cubs made a game-changing trade with the New York Yankees.

The first impressions from Tuesday’s press conference apparently bothered Chapman enough that he initially refused to speak to the reporters waiting around his locker after his debut. There had been questions about his 30-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, the off-the-field expectations from chairman Tom Ricketts and where the wires got crossed with coach/translator Henry Blanco.

After taking a shower – and listening to a few associates inside the clubhouse – Chapman agreed to two minutes of questions with catcher Miguel Montero acting as his translator.

“It happened,” Chapman said when asked about his portrayal in the Chicago media. “Don’t want to go further with it.”

The controversy will begin to fade after Chapman struck out Jose Abreu swinging at a 91-mph slider that almost scraped the dirt, forced Todd Frazier into a routine groundball and struck out pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia looking at a 103-mph fastball.

“It’s just entertaining to watch the gun, beyond everything else,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s a different kind of a pitcher. You don’t see that every 100 years or so. He’s just that good. Everybody talks about the fastball. How good is the slider? The slider is devastating.

“He was very calm in the moment. He was able to get through the last couple days to go out there. It was almost good it wasn’t a save situation just to get his feet on the ground.”

Picture the drama and the excitement when Chapman isn’t throwing with a seven-run lead and has to get the final three outs in a playoff game at Wrigley Field.

“I’m not impressed – I thought we were getting a guy that threw 105,” winning pitcher Jason Hammel joked. “I’ve never seen anything like it.

“It’s jaw-dropping. To see that type of velocity and command, it’s almost unfair to have a slider and offspeed pitches after that, too.”

This is what the Cubs envisioned when they decided to weather the media storms and absorb the PR hits, how Maddon could reimagine the entire bullpen and the whole team would sense the game-over feeling when the ball is in Chapman’s left hand.

“That’s a confidence-booster for us and it’s a morale kick for anybody out there,” Hammel said. “For the other side, it’s got to be black clouds: ‘Oh man, we can’t let the bullpen get in there.’”

Cubs felt the inevitable sense of trading a big-time prospect like Gleyber Torres

Cubs felt the inevitable sense of trading a big-time prospect like Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees directed blanket coverage of the Cubs in the weeks leading up to the Aroldis Chapman deal, looking closely at prospects throughout their farm system. Three names figured to be prominent if the Yankees decided to sell and the Cubs wanted to make a blockbuster trade: Gleyber Torres, Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ.

The Yankees made Torres their headliner in that four-player return from the Cubs, getting the organization’s top prospect and a supremely talented defensive shortstop out of Venezuela. The Cubs invested $1.7 million in Torres during the summer of 2013, the signing formalized the same day as the Jake Arrieta trade with the Baltimore Orioles.

This has been years in the making for Theo Epstein’s front office, building the first-place team that drew 41,116 to Wrigley Field for Wednesday night’s 8-1 crosstown victory over the White Sox, watching Chapman throw 13 pitches in the ninth inning that hit triple digits on the huge video board, understanding that the Cubs had to sacrifice parts of their future for the now.

“That’s the right word – inevitable – just because of the timing of when we thought we were going to be good,” said Jason McLeod, the senior vice president of scouting and player development. “We all knew as we were doing this that there was going to come that time when you trade the player that you not only feel is an impact-type prospect, but the organization just loves the person.

“Gleyber certainly fits that. That was one of the tougher calls I’ve ever had where we’re trading a guy, just because of how much the kid meant to us personally, and just hearing him, too.

“He was – as you would expect (with) a 19-year-old – shaken up and saddened by it, just because in three short years he had dreamt of nothing but being a Cub and playing here at Wrigley. I just told him: ‘You’ll still be wearing pinstripes. They’ll just be a different (color).’”

The Cubs didn’t want to trade core guys off their major-league roster and have a middle-infield foundation with Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist. So they gave up a high-floor player from Class-A Myrtle Beach while holding onto Jimenez and Happ and seeking out more possible deals before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

“All of them would have been hard to swallow,” McLeod said. “But we know that’s part of why we try to stockpile as much talent as we can.”

The Cubs can market Happ as another polished college switch-hitter with first-round pedigree, second baseman/outfielder versatility and an early ETA (already at Double-A Tennessee during his first full season of professional baseball).

Jimenez – who got a $2.8 million bonus out of the Dominican Republic during the same signing class as Torres – enjoyed a breakout performance during the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego and almost has a .900 OPS at Class-A South Bend.

At the age of 19, with a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and a smooth right-handed swing, Jimenez reminds the Cubs a little bit of Kris Bryant during his freshman season at the University of San Diego, meaning the sky is the limit.

Tonight on CSN: Cubs-White Sox finale from Wrigley

Tonight on CSN: Cubs-White Sox finale from Wrigley

The Crosstown Classic concludes on Thursday at Wrigley Field as the White Sox square off against the Cubs on CSN Chicago. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 6 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (14-3, 3.18 ERA) vs. John Lackey (7-7, 3.79 ERA)

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