Sorting It Out

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Sorting It Out

Sunday, November 1

Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner, came away from today's victory over the Browns with a chip on his shoulder. Jay Cutler came away with more bumps and bruises than just an ego.

Frustration is starting to set in on why this offense is cannot execute in key areas of the field like Short Yardage and the Red Zone. Today was a little bit of both that affected the Bears ability to score.

On the Bears first three trips into the red zone, three plays forced the Bears to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns.

1. 7:47 on the clock, first quarter, 2nd-and-9 situation. The Bears elect to go "Wildcat" offense with RB Matt Forte taking the direct snap and WR Devin Hester coming in motion to receive a handoff. The timing of the play was off and the Bears lost 5 yards. Matt Forte who is not used to putting players in motion did not time up the snap of the ball to coordinate with the handoff. Blame the playcaller on this one. These intricacies on offense should have been worked on in the offseason. That is what the Miami Dolphins have done with their running backs. Also, Cleveland runs the "Wildcat" themselves. They have been defending WR Josh Cribbs all offseason and know how to defend it. Bears settle for 3 points.

2. 2:02 on the clock, first quarter, 3rd-and-8 situation on the Cleveland 11 yd line. Bears can get to the 3 for a first and elect to run a slow developing screen to Garrett Wolfe. Another bad call by Ron who I know would like this call back. Cleveland was Blitzing a lot, but this is not the area of the field to hit a slow developing screen. The back of the goal line essentially becomes the defender. There is no where for the defense to drop in coverage because the field has shrunk. Cleveland was there for an easy stop. Bears then take the 3 points.

3. 8:48 on the clock, second quarter, 3rd-and-3 at the Cleveland 3. Jay Cutler is sacked by OLB Kameron Wimbley back at the 14 yd line. Bears again settle for three points. Jay has to know who the "Hot" receiver is on the play. I do believe it was Greg Olsen who was wide open in the flat for an easy TD.

Jay is going to be very sore tomorrow and Tuesday. He took some tremendous hits. As a QB, you have to be able to sort it out at the line of scrimmage. Know your protections and your hots to avoid the big hits he took today. You get hit enough from guys up front just getting beaten off the ball, but don't compound it by not knowing your responsibilities and good situational play like throwing the ball away.

The Bears do have a couple more hybrid defenses upcoming such as the Cardinals next week. Let's see if Jay and Ron can make some corrections.

Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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Morning Update: Cubs pick up win No. 101, Sale leads White Sox past Rays

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John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

John Lackey sees Cubs lining up for World Series run: ‘It’s all here’

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs have so much going for them, all this blue-chip talent, a clubhouse mix of young players and grizzled veterans, arguably the best manager in the game, an impactful coaching staff and a front office that blends scouting and analytics as well as anyone.

So, no, John Lackey is not at all surprised by the way this clicked into place, 101 wins and counting for the machine built with October in mind.

“Not really,” Lackey said after Tuesday night’s 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I had some pretty good offers from other people, and I chose this one for a reason. It’s all here.”

But to win the World Series — and get the jewelry Lackey talks about — you still need some luck, good health and the guts to perform in those Big Boy Games. That reality of randomness and matchups made a pregame announcement some 250 miles away from PNC Park so telling.

Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos tore the ACL in his right knee, ending his MVP-caliber season. The National League East champions will lose a .307 hitter with 22-homer power from the middle of their lineup and a veteran presence for a playoff rotation that will likely be without injured ace Stephen Strasburg (right elbow) in the first round.

“That’s a tough one when you lose your catcher, a guy who’s that significant for the pitching staff,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Think about the pitching staff — it’s so different when you know the guy back there is your guy and he knows what’s going on. The communication’s different. The trust factor, all that stuff is different.”

[SHOP CUBS: Get your NL Central champions gear right here]

Within that big-picture context, the Cubs survived as Lackey limited the checked-out Pirates (77-80) to one run across five innings in his fifth start since recovering from a strained right shoulder and coming off the disabled list. Maddon then used six different relievers — staying away from Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman — during a three-hour, 49-minute game that felt more like the Cactus League.

After defecting from the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals team the Cubs bounced out of last year’s playoffs, Lackey finished the regular season at 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 188 1/3 innings.

“I’m going to get to 200,” Lackey said.

Beyond wins and losses, Lackey called this season his career best in terms of “those numbers that they’ve made up in the last few years” like WHIP (1.04) and opponents’ OPS (.646) and whatever. And, no, he doesn’t know his WAR, either: “Not even close.”

Yes, the Cubs got the old-school attitude they wanted when they signed Lackey to a two-year, $32 million deal before the winter meetings. For all the talk about the pitching deficit and the New York Mets after their young guns swept the Cubs out of last year’s NL Championship Series, the Cubs are getting their money’s worth with a guy who will turn 38 in October.

The amazing Mets have lost three of those frontline starters — Matt Harvey (thoracic outlet syndrome), Jacob deGrom (nerve damage in his right elbow) and Steven Matz (bone spur in his left elbow) — and are still holding onto the first wild-card spot, which says something about this playoff field.

This doesn’t guarantee anything in October, but the Cubs are just about as close to full strength as they could reasonably hope now. Instead of the silence that would have come with losing an irreplaceable player like Ramos, the sound system in the postgame clubhouse blasted Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Notorious B.I.G. after their 101st win.

“Yeah, we lost Dexter (Fowler) for a bit,” Maddon said. “We lost (Kyle) Schwarber all year. Otherwise, when a couple pitchers got banged up, whether you’re talking about Rondon or Strop, I don’t think that our injuries have been as magnified because we’ve covered them pretty well.

“We still had our moments, like everybody else has. But when you get to right now, we’re getting well, and hopefully that trend continues. But to lose somebody of that magnitude for them, that’s got to be difficult.”