Take another look at '12 Bears' schedule and the '85 Bears'

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Take another look at '12 Bears' schedule and the '85 Bears'

The remainder of the Bears schedule has presumably better teams than the first seven games. What that means well, it really doesnt mean anything. More perspective on that in a moment.

Coaches and players arent the least bit interested in discussing whether or not the Bears have played anybody i.e., good on the way to their way to the 6-1 start. Why should they be?

Using one prism for perspective, the Bears have beaten only one team currently above .500.

Using a different one the Lovie Smith glass-half-full model four of the seven teams the Bears have faced have been .500 or better: Indianapolis, Green Bay, Dallas and Detroit.

Dallas and Detroit are 3-4 right now but heres the catch: that includes the losses to the Bears. Meaning, part of the reason those two are sub-.500 is because they played and lost to the Bears.

I think you have to forget that winning record part, Smith said. Because we had a 1-5 Carolina team come in here and play pretty good football.

I think you look across the league, if youre a true pro you dont get into those things. To be truthful, I know who we play this week Tennessee. But beyond that and I know whos coming up. But the order, we cant look at that. We just know that this week going on the road in a tough environment we need to play better ball, which well do.

The 85 lesson

Smiths Bears have had to endure endless comparisons with the 1985 Bears anytime their defense is very good. So its only reasonable that the 85ers help this group out on schedule perspectives.

The Super Bowl XX winners had six games against teams with winning records in 1985: New England, Washington, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami and the Jets. They were 5-1 against those teams.

The 2012 Bears are on course to have seven games against teams with winning records, including one more with Green Bay.

While the angst is running amok in BearNation, and lest there be any idea of, Yeah, but those 85 guys at least crushed the mopes on their schedule.

The 85 team needed come-from-behind wins to escape with two wins over Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first five weeks of the season. Those would be the 2-14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jim McMahons legendary Thursday night rescue from a 17-9 third-quarter hole was against division rival Minnesota. The 7-9 Minnesota Vikings.

As they were on final approach to the Super Bowl, the week after losing in Miami on Monday night, the Bears were tied 3-3 at halftime, at home, with the Indianapolis Colts. The 5-11 Indianapolis Colts.

The 2012 Bears arent the 1985 Bears. For that matter, the 1986 Bears werent the 1985 Bears. Schedule analyses should wait until more of it has played out.

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson looked around the Blackhawks’ room at where fellow defensemen stalls would probably be as the season approached.

“You have Brian (Campbell) back, (Michal) Kempny here, obviously and all the other guys,” Gustafsson said. “It’s going to be tough, but I like it.”

The Blackhawks’ biggest Achilles heel last season was defense, especially after Trevor Daley was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That opened the door for young players, including Gustafsson, to get bigger opportunities. This year the defense should be stronger with Campbell’s return. So for guys like Gustafsson, cracking this lineup just got that much tougher.

During the summer, assistant coach Mike Kitchen talked potential pairings as Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson, Campbell-Brent Seabrook, Kempny-Trevor van Riemsdyk. As of now, the team is expecting Keith to be ready for the season opener. Keith has been participating in a practice a day but whether or not he plays in any preseason games is uncertain right now.

If it starts out that way, Gustafsson would be on the outside looking in.

But first things first: Gustafsson is focused on building off experience gained last season — he played 41 games, recording 14 assists — and cleaning up a few errors committed in training camp practices.

“You know all the guys on the team, you know how they want to play over here and in the NHL. Just go out and show them. I didn’t do that [Saturday] but this was the first game,” Gustafsson said. “I felt good with the puck but I have to play more defense in my own zone. Just a couple of small things I have to be better.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Nothing comes easy when you’re trying to make an NHL roster but it got that much tougher for a young defenseman with the Blackhawks this season. Hey, that’s the way it is, and players know it.

“Of course it’ll be tougher,” Gustafsson said. “It won’t be easy to take a spot. You just have to go out there, do your best and see what happens.”

BRIEFLY

- Patrick Kane could play in the Blackhawks’ game against St. Louis on Saturday. Assistant coach Kevin Dineen said, “don’t be surprised to see 88 politicking to get in the lineup. Pretty good chance we’ll see him on Saturday."

- The Blackhawks were off on Thursday. Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, Marcus Kruger and Hjalmarsson were expected to join the team at Friday’s practice

- Alexandre Fortin, who signed a three-year contract on Sunday, played 12 1/2 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That included about two minutes of power-play time. Dineen wouldn’t mind seeing Fortin in another game. “He showed himself well all camp and I think [Wednesday] we saw some good spurts out there, and we’ll find that consistency in a young player as we move forward.”

Joakim Noah appreciative of time with Bulls despite 'low blow'

Joakim Noah appreciative of time with Bulls despite 'low blow'

Joakim Noah may be wearing a different uniform, but he's still wearing the same heart on his sleeve.

That much was made clear in his comments made to the New York media on Wednesday.

Noah, who signed a four-year, $72 million deal with the Knicks after eight seasons with the Bulls, was asked about comments Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf questioning Noah's future as a main contributor on a team.

Reinsdorf told the Chicago Tribune earlier this month that Noah was "not a frontline player," referencing the team's decision not to bring him back in free agency.

Noah responded to those comments in classy fashion - while also getting his true thoughts across:

“He’s entitled to his opinion,’’ Noah said. “I feel I have no regrets about my time in Chicago. I gave it everything I had. To me that’s all that matters. I did everything I could for that organization. I thought it was a little bit of a low blow, but at the end of the day I have nothing but respect for that organization. I’m just excited for this new chapter of my career.”

No one would ever question Noah's heart, but it's undeniable that his body is beginning to show wear, and his performance has reflected it.

Noah played in just 29 games last season before a season-ending shoulder injury, averaging career-lows in points (4.3), field goal percentage (38.3%), free throw percentage (48.9%) and steals (0.6). That came on the heels of a 2015 season in which he missed 15 games and averaged 7.2 points, the lowest since his second season in the league.

But the Knicks are hoping a rejuvenated Noah, playing in his hometown, will find some magic in his 31-year-old body and be able to get the Knicks back to the playoffs.

Noah, Derrick Rose and the Knicks will square off against the Bulls at the United Center on Nov. 4.