Despite 7-1 record, offense concerns persist for Bears

933263.png

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.

Never say die: Cubs battle back for wild walk-off win over Pirates

Never say die: Cubs battle back for wild walk-off win over Pirates

It would have been so easy for the Cubs to just chalk this one up as a loss and head home.

But this 2016 Cubs team isn't built that way.

They showed what they're made of again Monday, walking off the Pirates, 8-7, in front of 38,951 fans at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs had plenty of chances to score all game, including in extra innings as Javy Baez was thrown out at home plate to end both the 10th and 12th innings.

In the top of the 13th, the Pirates finally broke through, loading the bases with nobody out against Rob Zastryzny and scoring a run — but only one run.

In the bottom of the 13th, the Cubs got their offense going again as Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant led the inning off with singles to put runners at the corners. Anthony Rizzo then singled through the infield to tie the game and drive home Fowler.

Ben Zobrist was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out, setting the stage for Miguel Montero's walk-off single to start the Cubs' homestand off on a positive note and send Zastryzny home with his first MLB victory.

It capped off a game in which almost 465 pitches were thrown and took more than five hours to complete.

"We got in late last night," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I got back about 3 a.m. So these guys — they're coming off West Coast to the Central Time Zone, they're tired, we had to show up today early for a picture — that happens sometimes — and they came out and played until Midnight.

"Of course you want to win that game. That's a tough game to lose. But understand the effort that you saw tonight based on a lot of fatigue. And that's probably what I'm most proud of."

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

The Cubs opened up a 3-0 lead on Pirates rookie starter Steven Brault early, but they could have easily had more, narrowly missing home runs in the first (Zobrist) and third innings (Jorge Soler).

The Pirates, meanwhile, came roaring back against Jake Arrieta. 

First, Josh Bell hit a solo homer just over the basket in left field in the fourth inning. Then Gregory Polanco deposited a three-run shot down the left-field line in the sixth inning, two batters after it appeared the Cubs had gotten a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. Home plate umpire Tripp Gibson disagreed, calling the pitch Ball 4 to Bell and putting two runners on with nobody out instead of two outs and nobody on. Arrieta was irate, staring down the umpire and prompting a visit from Maddon, who proceeded to get in Gibson's face at the base of the mound after calming down Arrieta.

"That's an entirely different baseball game right there that occurred on that particular pitch," Maddon said. "Everything turned on that particluar pitch.

"But I'm not gonna denigrate the umpire. We had plenty of opportunities — PLENTY — to win that game in a normal fashion or earlier. We had so many great at-bats to set it up and then we could not seal the deal."

Arrieta was also saddled with a pair of runs in the seventh inning, with Travis Wood letting two inherited runners score on Josh Harrison's two-out double to make it a 6-3 Pirates lead.

The reigning NL Cy Young winner finished with a tough-luck line that flashed six earned runs in 6 1/3 innings on five hits and three walks.

Then the Cubs began their comeback.

In the eighth, Jason Heyward doubled and Willson Contreras homered to straightaway center.

With one out in the ninth, Soler sent a charge into Tony Watson's offering to tie the game with a blast to center.

That set up Montero for the storybook ending.

"The resiliency of our team is incredible," Arrieta said. "That's what you need down the stretch. ... Just a crazy ballgame all the way around."

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

The White Sox continue their road series with the Tigers on Tuesday night in the Motor City, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage from Detroit starts at 6 p.m. Then be sure to stick around following the final out for reaction and analysis on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Anthony Ranaudo (0-1, 7.88 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.63 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you're ready for the action.

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.

Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Berwyn-native and White Sox fan Isaiah Wright entered the world fighting the odds. At just 14 years old, he has undergone multiple organ transplants and more than 50 surgeries because of a rare birth defect.

Isaiah and his family have an appreciation for just how precious life can be and they were able to make the most of a recent visit to the South Side for a White Sox game, where he received VIP treatment and met his favorite players, including a private meeting with Jose Abreu.

Check out the video above.

A Go Fund Me page was also created to help support Isaiah and his family. Click here to make a donation.