Seahawks problems may be perfect 'fit' for Bears offense


Seahawks problems may be perfect 'fit' for Bears offense

Conventional wisdom (and being conventional in the NFL is death) is that you blitz a rookie quarterback, which the Seattle Seahawks have in Russell Wilson from Wisconsin.

But part of convention also is to blitz a struggling offensive line, which the Bears arent exactly, just one with potentially three starters next Sunday who werent in those positions nine days ago.

The intention is to force quick and multiple decisions by a group still in a molten state. With Gabe Carimi and Edwin Williams at guard (assuming Chris Spencers knee is not sound enough for a full game) and Jonathan Scott at right tackle, causing upheaval in protection schemes and ensuing assaults on Jay Cutler simply makes sense. The Bears are still 32nd in passing yardage, 30th in yards per pass play and 32nd in sacks per pass play.

But heres the problem for Seattle, ranked third defensively in passing yards allowed and seventh in sacks per pass play:

The Bears are 10th in rushing yards and the Seahawks are bad against the run (26th in yards per attempt). But it goes deeper than that.

Consider this assessment by Danny ONeil, Seahawks beat writer for the Seattle Times:

When Frank Gore rushed for 92 yards in the second half of Seattle's loss at San Francisco last month, it was chalked up to scheme. The 49ers ran a trap play that Seattle didn't adjust to adequately. When Adrian Peterson gained 182 yards on the ground two weeks later, it was a testament to Peterson's MVP-caliber comeback. But when Miami gains 189 yards on the ground? Well, that's a pretty sure sign of a serious problem. The Dolphins hadn't rushed for more than 100 yards in a game as a team since September yet Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas averaged more than 6 yards per carry against the Seahawks.

Pass blocking is defensive by nature; run blocking is offensive. For a Bears offensive line still coming together, a smash-mouth game plan plays into its strength as well as protects the less experienced.

Danny goes into some detail on the specifics of the decline in Seattles run defense. Then he points to a situation that further suggests if you just stay close to the Seahawks, they will crack.

No defense for the fourth quarter

Seattle is now batting .400 when it needs one stop to seal the game or force overtime. That's a great average in baseball, but it might turn out costing the Seahawks a playoff berth. Seattle's defense has given up a game-winning score in the final 5 minutes of its losses at Arizona, at Detroit and now at Miami. The Seahawks did manage to shut the door on New England and Carolina, but if coffee were for closersthen the Seahawks are sipping on tea.

And if anybody with any connection to Seattle isnt doing coffee, somethings already wrong.

No-brainer: Cubs rolling with Jon Lester again in World Series Game 1

No-brainer: Cubs rolling with Jon Lester again in World Series Game 1

CLEVELAND - The Cubs are undefeated in the 2016 postseason when Jon Lester takes the mound, including two Game 1 appearances.

So the Cubs are going to stick with what works.

The team announced Lester as the starter for Game 1 of the World Series at Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland Tuesday night.

"We win when he pitches," Anthony Rizzo said. "It's our mentality with all our pitchers but with him, it feels different."

Lester - the co-MVP of the National League Championship Series - is 2-0 this postseason with a 0.86 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in three starts spanning 21 innings. He has thrown at least six innings in each outing, including a gritty Game 5 performance against the Dodgers in the NLCS, allowing only one run in seven innings to send the series back to Chicago on a high note.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon believes Lester is cementing his name in franchise history with his playoff dominance.

"There is an incredible amount of calm that I'm seeing from the dugout when I'm watching him out there right now," Maddon said. "He's really, really in the moment. He's calm. Gosh, he's just eager to get out and pitch."

With his success this October, Lester now has a 2.50 ERA in 19 career postseason games (17 starts) and 119 innings. 

This is exactly what the Cubs signed up for when they handed the veteran southpaw a megadeal before the 2015 season - one of the best postseason pitchers of this generation.

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Lester has been asked several times over the last couple weeks what he can attribute his playoff dominance to and he always shrugs it off and deflects credit to the team.

"I had good fastball command. It wasn't erratic," he said. "It was missing to the side of the plate that I wanted to be on. I think when I'm able to do that, it makes the other pitches better.

"I guess that's kind of like your cooke-cutter answer, but I mean, for me, that's what it comes down to. ... The well-executed fastball in October is just the same as it is in June."

After Lester, Jake Arrieta said Monday he would be set to go in Game 2 in Cleveland.

That lines up Kyle Hendricks for Game 3 and another opportunity at Wrigley Field, where he has a 1.38 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 111.2 innings (including three postseason starts).

During the regular season, the Cubs had the best starting rotation in the big leagues, in part because they kept feeding off each other and competed within the pitching staff.

"I can specifically remember several times when Kyle would have a nice outing and go six or seven and give up one or two and I'd be like, 'You can't be giving up two runs, man,'" Arrieta joked. "It'd be after I went out and pitched eight scoreless or something like that.

"We'd just mess with each other like that. It's a friendly competition that most rotations have. ... To have that, to feed off each other, to fire each other up, it's one of the reasons we've pitched so well and why we're here."

The Indians are starting ace Corey Kluber - the 2014 American League Cy Young winner - in Game 1 and will slot in some combination of Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin for Games 2 and 3.

The Indians also aren't ruling out utilizng Kluber on short rest in Game 4 Saturday in Chicago and possibly even Game 7 if the series gets that far.

Indians' Trevor Bauer hopes to face Cubs in Game 2 of World Series

Indians' Trevor Bauer hopes to face Cubs in Game 2 of World Series

CLEVELAND — Trevor Bauer is back on his normal schedule and aims to pitch in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday.

Whether or not the Cleveland Indians will opt for Bauer, who left his last outing on Oct. 17 when a wound on his right hand began to bleed uncontrollably, remains to be seen. The status of Bauer’s mangled right pinky is still in question after he suffered a drone-related injury that required several stitches and resulted in a bloody mess during Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. Bauer threw off the mound as scheduled during Monday’s pre-World Series workout at Progressive Field. The Cubs and Indians open the 112th World Series on Tuesday night and Bauer could pitch the following night if all is well, though manager Terry Francona hasn’t committed to any plan thus far.

“When he gets through that, we'll know a lot more,” Francona said. “The hope is that he's ready to pitch on Wednesday. But if there's any ambiguity or any questions, we'll bump him back to Game 3.”

Bauer suffered the injury several days before the Game 3 start at the Rogers Centre. Bauer thought he could pitch anyway despite the injury after he successfully navigated his pre-start routine. Not only did he throw a bullpen and play long toss, Bauer humped his fastball up to 95 mph and felt as if he had good stuff when he faced the Toronto Blue Jays. But 21 pitches into his start, Bauer began to bleed uncontrollably and was ultimately pulled from the start.

“It was a big letdown for me because I felt like I had a good chance to go out and be successful and help the team,” Bauer said.

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The Indians won Game 3 as the bullpen delivered 8 1/3 strong innings after Bauer exited. He has since worked closely with the training staff and has prepared like he normally does. Bauer requested Monday’s round of live batting practice to shake off some of the rust and is hopeful Francona calls upon him on Wednesday.

“I’m preparing how I normally prepare for a start and they’ll tell me when I’m going to go out there and pitch,” Bauer said. “We’re targeting (Game) 2, but again, it’s Terry’s decision and we’ll know more as game time approaches.

“Everything is going good.”

The Indians have Josh Tomlin waiting in the wings if Bauer isn’t ready. If that were the case, Tomlin would start Game 2 and Bauer would receive the nod in Game 3 in Chicago on Friday night.