DST grades: Peterson's 'soft hundred' leaves Bears unhappy

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DST grades: Peterson's 'soft hundred' leaves Bears unhappy

Members of the Bears defense were mad. Theyd just held the Minnesota Vikings, with the NFLs leading rusher, to 10 points, the first time Minnesota has been held under 20 all season, and they were mad.

The miff was coming from allowing Adrian Peterson to net 108 yards. One lineman called it a soft hundred but put the blame squarely on the unit for not making tackles when they were there to be made. Petersons yards were indeed soft, coming largely after the Bears were up by three scores. Peterson had 25 rushing yards in the first half and 10 on the Vikings first possession of the third quarter so 73 yards over the final 19 minutes when the game was effectively over.

The overall was an effective shutdown of Minnesota, with the Vikings totaling just 181 yards through three quarters and mounting only one drive longer than 3-and-a-half minutes.

The Bears led the NFL with an opponent passer rating of 65.9 before the game and even improved on that, holding Christian Ponder to 58.2.

DEFENSIVE LINE A-

The sack total was modest, with one on the games first play by defensive tackle Henry Melton (sixth this season) and a second shared by Israel Idonije and Shea McClellin in the fourth quarter sack of Christian Ponder to end a possession. The Bears combined for seven hits on Ponder, with McClellin and Melton each getting two.

The line play was key, however, in getting to Adrian Peterson repeatedly on his side of the line and forcing early cuts in his runs to prevent him from reaching escape velocity. Julius Peppers took a lead role in calling stunts and specifics on various plays, giving the Vikings linemen changing assignments almost on the fly.

LINEBACKERS A

Nick Roach forced an Adrian Peterson fumble in the first quarter that led to the Bears first touchdown. Flow to the ball was excellent and contributed to holding Peterson to 65 yards through three quarters, with no run longer than 14 yards. Roach, playing heavy minutes with the Vikings' use of Peterson, tied for Bears high with seven tackles, six of them solo.

Lance Briggs also had seven stops, five solos, and broke up two passes. He and Brian Urlacher (four stops) combined with Roach to take Peterson away from dominating the game.

SECONDARY A

Kelvin Hayden, pressed into regular-down duty after an ankle injury to Charles Tillman, saved a TD with a fourth-quarter pass breakup and locked up WR Michael Jenkins on the next play as well to turn back a four-down effort with momentum at stake.

Tillman outfought Peterson for a fumble on the Vikings third possession to set up a touchdown and broke up a third-down slant pattern on Minnesotas second possession to force a field goal.

Run support from safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright was not flawless, but tackling Adrian Peterson rarely is. And Conte broke up two passes while coming up with an interception to set up a touchdown and nearly tipped a ball for another.

Tim Jennings was strong in open-field tackling and finished with five solo tackles.

Altogether, Bears defensive backs broke up nine passes as part of holding Christian Ponder to 22-of-43 passing for 159 yards, a TD, and INT and a passer rating of just 58.2.

COACHING A

After the debacle in San Francisco, coaches prepared for a rushing onslaught from Adrian Peterson by stressing basics and gaps, but also have wanted the defensive linemen in particular also to read the offense. Julius Peppers has stunt responsibilities as coaches have put the game in the players hands, with solid results again.

The mix of safeties on Cover-2 and Cover-1 alignments for run support may have benefited from the absence of injured receiver Percy Harvin. But the Bears committed to making the Vikings one-dimensional, and taking away Peterson and forcing Ponder to beat them was solid planning and execution.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The return game remains an issue with Devin Hester unable to regain his mojo of past seasons, and then being sidelined with a concussion. But other areas of special teams responded, with a two-point conversion and blocked field goal.

KICKING A-

Robbie Gould was good from 47 and 46 yards to get points from stalled possessions. Adam Podlesh executed a perfect fake PAT and ran in a two-point conversion. He also was good for 43.3 yards per on four punts, none returned and two inside the 20.

Julius Peppers turned in the 12th kick block of his career. But the Vikings blocked a Gould field goal late in the second quarter.

COVERAGE A

The Vikings were not able to return any of Adam Podleshs four punts. Marcus Sherels returned one kickoff 38 yards but the other two KORs were for 14 and 15 yards. The Vikings had an average starting field position of their own 29 and started eight out of 10 possessions after kicks from inside their own 30.

RETURNS C-

Devin Hester did nothing with a first-quarter punt return when he appeared to have running room and was replaced on the next kickoff return by Eric Weems. Hester left the game with a concussion in the first quarter. Weems returned three kickoffs an average of 21.7 with a long of 27.

COACHING A

The scouting of Minnesotas kick-block unit was exploited for a two-point conversion. Bears coverage units were near flawless and prevented the Vikings from gaining any sort of advantage or momentum after either punts or kickoffs.

Todd Frazier's late single lifts White Sox over Mariners

Todd Frazier's late single lifts White Sox over Mariners

The White Sox offense showed a bunch of late life on Thursday night.

Todd Frazier had two hits with runners in scoring position, including the game-winner, as the White Sox topped the Seattle Mariners 7-6 at U.S. Cellular Field. Frazier’s one-out single in the ninth inning off Nick Vincent scored Adam Eaton as the White Sox won for the fourth time in five games. Frazier’s game-winning hit was his first since June 2015 and the fifth of his career. It and a game-tying, two-out, two-run single in the seventh helped Frazier shake off a game in which he struck out three times in his first three at-bats.

“You learn something,” Frazier said. “You take the last at-bat and throw it away and just keep on going. Unfortunately, it took me three times to do that. To come up clutch today felt pretty good.”

Frazier leads the club in home runs and RBIs.

Similar to his teammates, however, Frazier has lefty plenty of chances for more damage on the table. He entered Thursday hitting .159 with runners in scoring position for a team that ranks 18th with runners in scoring position (.255).

While Frazier struck out with runners on the corners in the first inning, he succeeded in his next two tries. He picked up Jose Abreu in the seventh after the slugger struck out against Steve Cishek. Frazier sat on a slider and ripped a 2-0 pitch into left field to drive in Eaton and Tim Anderson, whose one-out RBI double made it a 6-4 game.

Then in the ninth, Frazier came through again. Eaton’s bloop single to center got things going before Anderson bunted him over. Vincent walked Abreu to get to Frazier, who singled to left again.

Frazier was previously 17-for-17 with five doubles, four homers and 42 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

“These are the best ones,” manager Robin Ventura said. “You can't rely just on the homer. There's more to his game than that. You have to be able to knock in runs when you're not hitting them over the fence. He can use the other side of the field. I think he can level it out somewhat and get some hits. Just put it in play more because you don't know know what's going to happen.”

[MORE: Rick Hahn denies rift in White Sox front office, holds off on plans for 2017]

David Robertson found that out in the top of the ninth inning when his outing was delayed for several minutes by a trio of fans who ran onto the field. Robertson worked around the delay and a one-out walk to keep the score tied at 6.

Down 2-0, the White Sox scored three times in the first inning to briefly take the lead.

Abreu and Avisail Garcia both singled in runs and Dioner Navarro had a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.

White Sox starter Anthony Ranaudo pitched well after a slow start and then ran into bad luck in the sixth inning. What looked to be a surefire double play ball kicked off Ranaudo’s glove and combined with an Anderson throwing error led to a three-run inning that put Seattle ahead 6-3.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Ranaudo allowed six earned runs in 5.1 innings.

The White Sox were 6-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

“That’s just part of it,” Robertson said. “I guess that happens some times.

“Everybody played hard. They didn’t give up at all tonight. We pitched well enough to win and had timely hitting. A few things went our way, a couple errors that really ended up giving us a few runs. A few things went our way and it was great to pick up a win.”

Jay Cutler, Dowell Loggains face deepest test yet in Bears' third preseason game

Jay Cutler, Dowell Loggains face deepest test yet in Bears' third preseason game

Third preseason games come with added significance simply because it is the one practice game in which the starters play the closest to a full game prior to the start of the regular season. But for the Bears, Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs is potentially far more important for another reason.

The Kansas City game looms as something of a new tipping point in the one relationship that must function above all others for immediate success of the franchise:

The working relationship/bond between offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and quarterback Jay Cutler.

The two-plus quarters that Cutler is expected to play will be the longest yet trial by fire for his trust in Loggains. The latter has been a coordinator previously in his career, but with less time and success in the position that most of Cutler’s previous list of coordinators.

And few of those relationships survived, let alone flourished once Cutler lost faith or belief in their messages, whether under an avalanche of sacks, poor play selection or design, or whatever.

Cutler put up the best season of his eight-year career in 2015 with Loggains as his position coach. Adam Gase was the coordinator, Gase came in with credibility from having worked with Peyton Manning in Denver. The credibility traced to not necessarily what Gase might have taught Manning, but rather because of what Gase undoubtedly LEARNED from Manning.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Saturday’s test will be far short of the ones the regular season holds, when Loggains’ offense has been scouted and schemed for. But after a stretch of “quizzes” for Cutler-Loggains, this is a “test.”

Buy-in with Loggains?

Loggains has traction with Cutler – for now. Cutler was consistent in his compliments of Loggains last year, but it was Gase ultimately in his ear on game days. Indeed, the entire offense believed in Gase: “When I’m in the huddle…and we get a play call,” offensive lineman Kyle Long said at the time, “there’s never a time where we look at each other and think, ‘Oh [darn].’”

The NFL reality is that Loggains, who has stressed an even stronger commitment to running the football (Long and associates love that), has to earn, or re-earn that gut-level trust.

Most of all, from Cutler.

The lurching start to the preseason – the Bears’ 22-0 home loss to Denver, in which the offense with Cutler netted 13 yards in 10 plays, two of them ending in sacks of Cutler – was test No. 1. The Cutler-Loggains relationship appeared to emerge intact.

“We talked,” Cutler said. “We talked a lot about that game. I think the major point for us was, ‘Let’s not panic. Let’s not hit the fire alarm and put guys in a panic.’

“Because it was the first preseason game and we watched the film and a lot of the stuff that went wrong was because of mistakes… . So it was a matter of just kind of cleaning that stuff up and just going back to work. Which I thought we did a really good job of offensively [at New England]. Hopefully we can do that this week, too.”

Tough warm-ups

NFL schedule-makers did Loggains and the Bears no favors. Their first three preseason opponents – Denver, New England, Kansas City – were all top-10 run defenses. Meaning: The Bears are working to establish Loggains’ run-based offense right into the teeth of three of the NFL’s best at stopping that.

[RELATED: Rookie class making much-needed impact from Bears]

The Bears want to run. But just consider: What if they can’t run against a monster Chiefs front that includes Jaye Howard and Dontari Poe and which held the Bears to 3.3 yards per carry, tied for their second-lowest of 2015, in their meeting last season?

Which then tasks Loggains with getting the offense to the right solutions, and those traditionally have not been – and should not be – solely found in Cutler’s right arm. The Bears streamlined and simplified Cutler’s decision-making last year, by design, and it was the right strategy, minimizing a Cutler weakness.

But now Loggains is front-and-center in those decisions. And Cutler has never appeared to suffer from an excess of patience through his career, even the new, more mature Cutler.

And not only WHAT Loggains tells Cutler, but also HOW he tells him, will matter. Gase was generally quiet; that worked. Loggains is very expressive, which Cutler said he now appreciates.

“He sets the tone every day,” Cutler said. “There’s never a gray area. He sets the tone, sets the standard, and if you don’t live up to that, meet those expectations, he’s going to be vocal, he’s going to let you know.

“As a player, that’s all you can ask for: A coach telling you how to do it, and when you don’t do it, you expect him to push you and help you achieve those goals.”

Preseason game No. 3 will be the biggest test yet for the synchronicity that is there now but needs to stand up to inevitable failures.

Illinois lands Huntley DE Olalere Oladipo

Illinois lands Huntley DE Olalere Oladipo

Illinois added another important in-state piece as Huntley three-star ranked defensive end Olalere Oladipo (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) announced his college decision Thursday night to the Fighting Illini.

"Illinois has a great staff, is close to home," according to Oladipo. "Illinois felt like a nice fit for me."

Oladipo is also the second verbal commitment Illinois added Thursday as the Fighting Illini added a commitment from Miami (Fla.) Central four-star ranked wide receiver Carmoni Green (6-foot-1, 178 pounds).

Oladipo is now the sixth in-state verbal commitment for the Fighting Illini Class of 2017. Oladipo joins St. Rita OLB Marc Mondesir, Auburn OT Verderian Lowe, Marian Catholic QB Cameron Thomas, Chicago Brother Rice WR Ricky Smalling and Bolingbrook ATH Kendall Smith.

Illinois now has 11 known verbal commitments total in the Class of 2017.