Tice: No 'Brandon Ratio' but


Tice: No 'Brandon Ratio' but

When Mike Tice was Minnesota Vikings head coach a decade ago, the Randy Ratio was in operation. At least 40 percent of passes thrown were going to go toward Randy Moss.

We certainly had a number of plays offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and I talked about this many targets for Randy, Tice told CSNChicago.com on Wednesday. We knew what that was and we stayed at it.

According to one count the Vikings were 4-1 in 2002 when they hit the Ratio point, 1-10 when quarterback Daunte Culpepper didnt.

The Bears are 7-1 to this point of 2012 with a Brandon Ratio that has slightly more than 37 percent of Jay Cutler passes intended for Marshall. That is not necessarily by design. However

There is no Brandon Ratio, Tice said. I do know this that on third downs were going to have some opportunities that are going to go his way. He does such a great job on third downs.

Tice was not revealing any game plan with his declaration that the league already was not amply aware. Marshall is the NFLs leading receiver on third-downs, with 19 catches and an average of 15.6 yards per third-down reception. Four of his seven touchdowns have come on third downs.

Marshall not the problem

Cutler has targeted Marshall 86 times this season (90 per ESPN.com numbers). The next-closest is among wide receivers is Earl Bennett at 32, then 28 for Matt Forte. Devin Hester has been targeted 23 times.

Notably, rookie Alshon Jeffery also has been targeted 23 times and hes missed the last three games plus the fourth quarter of the Jacksonville game with his broken hand, after playing his way into the starting lineup in part because he caught 14 of those 23. Cutler was throwing to him because he trusted him.

If Cutler is locking onto one receiver excessively, he can be the cause of a one-dimensional offense. But if Hester is getting open just 23 times in eight games, then something is wrong with No. 23. If Bennett is only getting open 32 times in his six games, then Cutler can be excused for going to No. 15 and his own private Brandon Ratio.

Trust factor

Receivers are tasked with earning a quarterbacks trust. Even if Cutler is looking too much for Marshall teams with 100-catch receivers rarely win Super Bowls the bigger challenge is to Bennett, Hester and Jeffery when he returns is to establish themselves with a quarterback whose trust is easily shaken.

The number of passes to one of the elite receivers in the NFL and clearly the best ever in a Bears uniform is not the problem. Getting the ball to a superstar does not fit neatly in any notion of problem.

But Cutler and Marshall won exactly zero in their two seasons starting together with Marshall catching 102 and 104 passes. They did not have a winning season either year.

When Tice operated with the Randy Ratio with Moss, the Vikings were 5-11 in 2001 with Moss catching 82 with 10 touchdowns and Cris Carter 75. They went 6-10 on 2002 with Moss 106 and seven TDs. Moss 111 catches and 17 touchdowns in 2003 were good for 9-7 but not for postseason.

Our receivers are playing hard, blocking their butts off, Tice said. But our passing game is going to go through Brandon.

Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam dies at 42


Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam dies at 42

Former Bears running back Rashaan Salaam was found dead at the age of 42 in Colorado on Monday night.

Boulder Police say there was no evidence of foul play, according to cubuffs.com.

Salaam was selected by the Bears in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft after a standout collegiate career in which he won the Heisman Trophy award in 1994. 

"The Buff Family has lost an outstanding young man and a great Buff today," Colorado Athletic Director Rick George said. "We are heartbroken for Rashaan and his family and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time."

Salaam played with the Bears from 1995-1997. As a rookie, he rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, but only combined for 608 rushing yards over his last two years with the Bears.

Salaam went on to play for both the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns in 1999. He briefly spent time in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers in 2003 before ending his football career with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 2004.

Examining Yoan Moncada, baseball’s No. 1 prospect and the newest member of the White Sox

Examining Yoan Moncada, baseball’s No. 1 prospect and the newest member of the White Sox

The White Sox pulled off what may be the biggest deal in team history on Tuesday, dealing ace left-hander Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for four prospects. The rebuild is officially underway on 35th and Shields. 

In trading Sale, the White Sox acquired infielder/outfielder Yoan Moncada, outfielder Luis Basabe and right-handers Michael Kopech and Victor Diaz.  Moncada, though, is regarded by some as the best prospect in baseball and is certainly the prize return in the megadeal.

A 21-year-old, 6-foot-2, 205 pound switch hitting native of Cuba, Moncada regarded as baseball’s top prospect by MLB.com and Baseball America. One of the comparisons MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo offered for Moncada was “Robinson Cano with more speed,” referring to the Seattle Mariners All-Star (and possible future Hall of Fame) second baseman who has 278 home runs and a .307/.355/.498 career slash line.

Moncada had a monster season in the minors in 2016, slamming 31 home runs with a 45 stolen bases and a .294/.407/.511 slash line in 491 plate appearances across high Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland. In 2015, his first season in the Red Sox farm system, Moncada hit eight home runs with 49 stolen bases a .278/.380/.817 slash line over 81 games with Single-A Greenville. 

[Complete coverage of the White Sox-Red Sox Chris Sale blockbuster trade]

What position Moncada ultimately winds up playing remains to be seen, but he has the flexibility to play second base, third base or center field. He played 163 of his minor league games at second base and has played 15 games at third base between the minors and majors. The White Sox, though, reportedly see Moncada playing his natural position of second base.

From MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo’s analysis of Moncada:

Few middle infielders can match Moncada's huge offensive ceiling, which earns him comparisons to Robinson Cano with more speed. He's a switch-hitter with outstanding bat speed who makes consistent hard contact from both sides of the plate. Moncada has added some loft to his swing in 2016 and has the potential for 20-25 home runs per season.
Moncada's best pure tool is his well-above-average speed, which he has put to good use with back-to-back 45-steal seasons and an 86 percent success rate in the Minors. His quickness doesn't translate consistently as well in the field, though he has the range and arm strength to play almost anywhere on the diamond he might be needed. 
The biggest knock on Moncada is his 24.2 percent strikeout rate over his 854 minor league at-bats. That percentage spiked to 30.9 in 207 Double-A plate appearances, though his walk rate remained high there too (13 percent).

And here’s FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen, who projects Moncada to be worth five-plus WAR per season, on the newest member of the White Sox organization:

A plus-hitting middle infielder with plus raw and game power as well as 70-grade wheels is basically in-his-prime Ian Kinsler, except faster. That’s really good, and Moncada is debuting three years earlier than Kinsler, who is still stroking it at age 34, did. This is the best prospect in baseball, a player I think will be a perennial All-Star and a potential MVP type of talent, with tools so deafeningly loud that it may be a while before we hear the echoes of his historical significance. 

Moncada and White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu briefly played together for Cienfuegos in Cuba in 2012, two years before Abreu defected and signed a six-year contract with the White Sox. In his age-17 and age-18 seasons, Moncada hit .277/.388/.380 with four home runs for Cienfuegos in 2012 and 2013. The Red Sox shelled out $63 million to sign Moncada in February of 2015.

If Moncada remains Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect — as he was in their midseason 2016 rankings — he’ll join an illustrious group of players with that designation:

2016: Corey Seager (SS, Dodgers)
2015: Kris Bryant (3B, Cubs)
2014: Byron Buxton (OF, Twins)
2013: Jurickson Profar (IF, Rangers)
2012: Bryce Harper (OF, Nationals)
2011: Bryce Harper (OF, Nationals)
2010: Jason Heyward (OF, Braves)
2009: Matt Wieters (C, Orioles)
2008: Jay Bruce (OF, Reds)
2007: Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP, Red Sox)
2006: Delmon Young (OF, Rays)
2005: Joe Mauer (C, Twins)
2004: Joe Mauer (C, Twins)
2003: Mark Teixeira (3B, Rangers)
2002: Josh Beckett (RHP, Marlins)
2001: Josh Hamilton (OF, Rays)
2000: Rick Ankiel (RHP, Cardinals)