Despite 7-1 record, offense concerns persist for Bears

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Despite 7-1 record, offense concerns persist for Bears

It is too often becoming the elephant over there in the corner of the room that no one really wants to talk to. After all, the Bears are 7-1 and a very good football team, so if reporting some basic issues with the offense comes across as picking nit, it isnt meant to be.

But Jay Cutler on his weekly ESPN radio show Monday was blunt that as far as an offense, we still have a long way to go.

And Monday night in a chat with David Kaplan and Brian Noonan on WGN-AM 720s WGN Sports Night, the offense accounted for most of the talking and worrying points.

The reason this remains a significant issue is that the Bears have a potential championship team and that can be undone by a problem offense.

The Charles Tillman Experience in Nashville with Brian Urlacher and Corey Wootton supporting acts overshadowed how dismal the Bears were on offense too early and too often both Sunday and this season.

Big numbers

The final numbers were anything but dismal, and how much fault should be found with an offense whose quarterback had a 138.1 passer rating with zero interceptions; three running backs with a combined 213 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown; and a wide receiver with nine (of 10 targets) catches and 122 yards?

But Brian rightly wondered if there was really a weakness in the defense as it is playing now. My thought was that this defense is good enough to win a championship but the weakness of the 2012 Bears defense is the same one that threatens any defense:

If the offense cannot stay on the field, defenses eventually wear down.

35 minutes ofwhat exactly?

Brian noted that the Bears went 35 minutes (the entire second and third quarters and then some) against Tennessee without getting into the end zone. They reached the Tennessee 7- and 14-yard lines and had to settle for field goals at the end of drives for 76 and 73 yards. Impressive but

We stumbled a bit, Cutler acknowledged after the Titans game. In the red zone, we stumbled a bit down there, the turnover fumble at the Tennessee 14 was my fault and so on.

Those were chances missed against the Tennessee Titans. The Bears opened the game with possessions of three-and-out, four-and-out and a safety.

If the Bears give away those kinds of opportunities against the Houston Texans, among the elite defenses and offenses in the NFL, the Bears defense will never have a chance.

Looking ahead

The consensus is that the offense will improve as the comfort levels of Cutler, Mike Tice and the rest settle. The Bears already have had their off week so it has to be done in real time, with an eye toward J.J. Watt and the Houston defense.

Even with the stumbles in Tennessee, I definitely think as the game went along we were playing good ball and had a good rhythm going toward the end of the game, coach Lovie Smith said.

Thats how it happened, too. Right now, were talking an awful lot about our defense, but before this season is over, hopefully this week, its going to shift where were going to be talking an awful lot about the weapons we have and the offensive plays that were makingWe know that theres a long ways to go still.

And in other news

You know how sometimes you just know you should have followed your first, gut instinct? That happened on Sunday.

Yes, a certain View from the Moon analyst chose to honor his preseason prediction that the Tennessee Titans would upset the Bears. That didnt happen.

Accountability is a good thing. I allowed that the Bears could very well go back home with a 7-1 record and should have stopped there. First miss on a Bears result this year, probably wont be the last, and Ill also probably reverse my preseason pix on the next two games.

More on that over the weekend.

Could ex-Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian replace Peyton Manning?

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Could ex-Northwestern QB Trevor Siemian replace Peyton Manning?

The starting quarterback for the reigning Super Bowl champs?

It might be a Northwestern alum.

Trevor Siemian, who was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of last year's NFL Draft, is very much in the mix to succeed Peyton Manning as the Broncos' starting quarterback, according to the Denver Post's Troy Renck.

The Broncos' quarterback situation has been a hot topic during this NFL offseason. Manning rode into the sunset, retiring after winning his second Super Bowl in February, and backup Brock Osweiler signed a free-agent deal with the Houston Texans.

And while Denver brought in former USC star Mark Sanchez as a free agent and used a first-round draft pick on Memphis' Paxton Lynch, head coach Gary Kubiak is telling reporters he "wouldn't sleep on" Siemian to beat out both for the starting job.

"I think Trevor has a maturity to him. He’s kind of the sleeper, I would say. Trevor knows the offense. He’s very comfortable and can throw the ball too," Kubiak said, quoted in Renck's story. "We’ve also seen him make big plays in the preseason games under the lights. I wouldn’t sleep on Trevor to win the job, either."

Siemian didn't throw a pass during his rookie season, but if he were to beat out Sanchez and Lynch for the Broncos' starting gig, he'd be the first Northwestern product to start an NFL game at quarterback in the 21st century. Two others — Brett Basanez and Mike Kafka — threw a combined 27 passes in five NFL games during the 2006 and 2011 seasons.

Tom Izzo lauds 'bona fide 4-man' Ben Carter as Spartans announce addition

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Tom Izzo lauds 'bona fide 4-man' Ben Carter as Spartans announce addition

Early this month, UNLV transfer Ben Carter announced he'd be playing his final season of NCAA eligibility at Michigan State.

Tuesday, the Spartans officially announced Carter's addition, and head coach Tom Izzo — who was in need of some front-court help — welcomed a player he called a "bona fide 4-man."

"What struck me about Ben from the very first time I talked to him was that the most important thing to him was winning and being a part of a championship team," Izzo said in the team's announcement. "(Former UNLV interim) coach (Todd) Simon felt Ben was one of the keys to their team last season before he was injured in January. He's going to give us a bona fide 4-man, but once again, it's his passion for winning that most impressed me. After meeting with him and his family on their visit, I'm excited to say that we are adding a good player and a great kid."

Carter should give Izzo and the Spartans a good deal of assistance. Before that aforementioned season-ending ACL tear in January, Carter was averaging 8.6 points and 6.0 rebounds a game in 24 minutes a game for the Runnin' Rebels.

A total of five forwards — including two members of Michigan State's starting five — from last season's team departed this offseason. Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman graduated, Deyonta Davis is off to the NBA Draft and Javon Bess and Marvin Clark Jr. both transferred.

Carter joins a front court that returns Gavin Schilling and welcomes in incoming freshman Nick Ward.

Charles Buggs transferring away from Gophers

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Charles Buggs transferring away from Gophers

Another departure from the Minnesota basketball program.

The Gophers announced Tuesday that Charles Buggs will transfer out of the program following his graduation and will seek to play his final season of NCAA eligibility elsewhere.

"I want to take the time to thank everyone including our coaching staff and especially Minnesota fans for their support and efforts throughout my time here," Buggs said in the team's announcement. "Being part of the University of Minnesota athletic program, I was able to not only make friends but formulate a new family that helped me grow as an athlete and a person. I will always support the University and Minnesota and hope to get the opportunity to give back to the school and the athletic program as much as it has given me."

After redshirting as a freshman, Buggs played for the Gophers over the last three seasons, averaging a career-high 5.9 points per game last season in 24 minutes a game.

"It has been a pleasure to coach Charles over the past three years and see his continued development and growth as a basketball player and a person," head coach Richard Pitino said in the announcement. "Charles has always represented the university with class, and I am especially proud of him graduating. He has a bright future in basketball and life ahead of him and will no doubt find success wherever he goes."

Minnesota was a miserable 8-23 last season, the 23 defeats setting a program record. All that losing has Pitino on the hot seat, and a host of disciplinary issues led to multiple suspensions and dismissals last season.

Buggs is the second player to transfer out of the program since the season ended, joining Kevin Dorsey, who according to the Star Tribune transferred "following a suspension for the final four games after sex videos appeared on his social media sites."