Word on the Street: Rose leaps Rondo

Word on the Street: Rose leaps Rondo

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Rose leaps Rondo

Derrick Rose has jumped in front of Celtics guard Rajon Rondo for second place among guards in Eastern Conference All-Star voting. Dwyane Wade currently leads all guards in the East. If Rose is chosen to start in this year's NBA All-Star Game, he will be the first Bull to do so since Michael Jordan in 1998.

Eastern Conference guard vote totals:
Dwyane Wade: 1,499,768
Derrick Rose: 1,225,575
Rajon Rondo: 1,171,311 (CSNChicago.com)

Cutler NFL's Most Hated Player?

There have been times, particularly after one of his trademark interception-riddled games, that Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been one of Chicago's least favorite athletes. But is he the most-hated in the entire NFL? At least one columnist believes he just may be.

In columnist Rick Reilly's most recent article he says, "If Cutler is not The Most Hated Man in the NFL, he's in the running." The article, titled "Jay Cutler is No Teddy Bear," lists multiple incidents in which Cutler allegedly acted disrespectfully to former teammates and coaches. Because of his negative public image, Reilly says that this Sunday's game against the Seahawks is even bigger for Cutlerthan it is for the Bears.

"It's a huge moment for Cutler, if only because his disdain for making nice means everything rides on his wins and losses," Reilly writes. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Fire Draft Defense

With the ninth overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft the Chicago Fire bolstered their defense, selecting Jalil Anibaba of North Carolina. In his senior year at North Carolina, Anibaba was named a NSCAA second team All-American and first team All-ACC.

Jalil is a stout defender who will be a great addition to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas said. His ability to play defensive soccer, distribute the ball from the back and control the back line will help us as we head into the 2011 MLS season. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Tatupu Out for Second Straight Practice

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday as he attempts to recover from a concussion. Though his status for Sunday's divisional playoff game remains unknown, head coach Peter Carrol says he is optimistic that Tatupu will be able to go. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Broncos Hire Fox

The Denver Broncos have hired former Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox to fill their head coaching vacancy. Despite a disappointing 2-14 final season in Carolina, Fox did have measured success with the Panthers, compiling a 78-74 record - including the playoffs - over nine seasons. (AFP)

Beckham Drama-Free Year

After a 2010 season filled with drama surrounding a feud between White Sox general manager Kenny Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen as well as the trade for the notoriously-drama-prone Manny Ramirez, Sox second basemen Gordon Beckham is looking forward to a distraction-free season.

"We want to go out there and compete, we don't want outside drama to fill our locker room this year," Beckham said Thursday during a conference call. "We're going to try this year to thoroughly concentrate on baseball." (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Favre's Sister Arrested on Meth Charge

What has been a rough few months for the Favre family appears to be getting even worse as Brett Favre's sister, Brandi Favre, has been arrested on charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and producing hazardous waste as a byproduct. This comes at the same time as Brett Favre is facing sexual harassment lawsuits.

If convicted, Brandi Favre could face up to 1 million in fines and up to 30 years in prison on each count. (ABC News)

Blackhawks will consider breaking up Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane

Blackhawks will consider breaking up Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane

Saturday morning’s potential lineup looked different for a few reasons. First, there were more familiar faces, thanks to players trickling in after their World Cup of Hockey work.

Second, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane weren’t on the same line. While part of that is because the Blackhawks are still short a few players, it’s also an experiment that could carry over into the regular-season.

Kane was with Nick Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov and Panarin was with Vinnie Hinostroza and Richard Panik and they’ll see how that works starting Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues. Granted, this is only part of the change. The main gist is to give Jonathan Toews, who hasn’t joined the Blackhawks for camp yet, a good playing partner on that top line. Still, it’s a first look coach Joel Quenneville would like to take.

"It’s definitely a thought process and we’re saying ‘Let’s have a look at it in camp," Quenneville said. "And maybe we can have a different look or something to think about, at least, going into the season with Johnny and Kaner being on different lines and having more balance on both lines."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks struggled with finding the right combinations, outside of that top line, last season. Panarin did play with Toews for a few games but the combination didn’t click as well as the Panarin-Kane one, and that second line of those two and Anisimov was quickly restored. This season the issues facing the Blackhawks’ forward depth are obvious, so it’s worth another look to see, once Toews gets here, if he and Panarin can get something going.

"[It’s] more so about having balance on both lines and having more depth and scoring throughout the lineup," Quenneville said.

BRIEFLY

- Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Brent Seabrook will also play vs. St. Louis.

- Quenneville said Duncan Keith (knee) is progressing well and, "we’re hoping that he can get a [preseason] game in or so."

- Scott Darling is slated to play the entire game against the Blues.

Bears formula for beating Lions is basic

Bears formula for beating Lions is basic

Talking about what the Bears can do to defeat the Detroit Lions suddenly has a vague feel of irrelevance, since the downward spiral of the 0-3 start raises far broader questions and doubts than one game. But in point of fact, it IS about one game. More on that later.

Earlier in this week your humble and faithful narrator laid out three foundation points upon which the Bears could begin building a way out of the abyss. Nothing has changed in the meantime other than a few injury designations, and there is zero reason to dwell on those because the solution is about as simple as things can get. And they extend beyond Sunday’s game against the Lions.

“You’ve just got to keep improving,” said Brian Hoyer, the presumptive starting quarterback Sunday against Detroit and until Jay Cutler’s injured right thumb is sufficiently healed. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. Everybody has injuries. It’s unfortunately part of the business so everybody just has to step up.

“And not only the guy himself has to step up, the guys around him have to step up. That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Which gets back to those three “turnaround” elements, because those comprise the basic formula for the Bears to overcome the Lions and themselves. Consider these the proverbial “three keys,” tailored to the immediate game at hand.

Unleash a defensive “village”

The Bears have not proved themselves capable of winning enough one-on-one matchups pretty much anywhere on the field, any side of the football. An alternative exists on defense, however: Swarm to the football, something that was axiomatic with Lovie Smith defenses but evaporated under Marc Trestman/Mel Tucker and has not developed under John Fox and Vic Fangio. It is also the only realistic way the Bears can have a dominant defensive game, which is the only realistic way the Bears can win a football game.

The Lions were never a particularly fun matchup for Chicago defenses when they had Calvin Johnson. In beating the Bears the last six times the teams met, Detroit averaged 29.3 points per game. Without Megatron the Lions are averaging 27 per game this season. Meaning: Things haven’t necessarily gotten any better since the Big Fella called it a career.

In place of Johnson, the focal point of the Detroit offense has become wideout Marvin Jones, No. 2 in the NFL in receiving yards and averaging 22.7 yards on his 18 receptions. Equally concerning: Jones has picked up first downs on 13 of those 18 catches.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

“He's made some big plays,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. “He's had some big ‘chunk’ plays, a 73-yarder last week, I think he had a 50-some yarder in another game. He leads the [NFC] in receiving yards and [is No. 2 in] average per catch. They've got a lot of weapons.”

The problem with that is that the Lions are predominantly a three-receiver offense, another team that will schematically force the Bears out of their base 3-4 and into nickel. The Bears intercepted a Houston Texans pass on the first possession of the season. They have not intercepted one in the 34 opponent possessions since then.

Detroit doesn’t run the football overly well (101 yards per game), but if the Bears cannot force quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw toward Jones or Golden Tate before he wants to, an undermanned secondary has no chance.

The defense no longer has a shutdown corner, even one must-account-for pass rusher or an established all-around game-changer. Jerrell Freeman is the best player on a struggling defense. The solution is a form of flash-mob flying to the football, second and third men in stripping the ball. One tackler or pass rusher has proved insufficient.

Take it on the run

It is far from any sort of exact correlation, but all six of the Bears’ wins last season came in games where they rushed more times than their opponent. A seventh win escaped them when Robbie Gould missed a kick against San Francisco. Only the Lions in Week 17 rushed fewer times than the Bears and won.

The Bears are not only among the NFL’s worst rushing teams (70 yards per game, 30th), but also its least busy, with 53 total attempts through three games. The total is mystifying because the Bears led the Texans through three quarters and the Eagles for most of two, making the reasoning that the Bears were trailing and forced to throw very difficult to understand.

The Lions allow 5.1 yards per rush, worst in the NFL. They are without top pass rusher Ziggy Ansah. If the Bears cannot run on this defense (allowing 28.3 ppg.), the issues are far deeper than feared and the philosophies and play calling of coordinator Dowell Loggains will come under even more scrutiny than they already have.

“I was pretty disappointed as well [after 15 rush attempts at Dallas],” guard Kyle Long said. “Just execution, and sometimes it’s not execution. It’s just you’ve got to beat the guy across from you and we haven’t done that enough.”

Win one play…then one drive…one quarter…one game

The Bears cannot get back to .500 Sunday afternoon. Barring a 28-point outburst, they cannot win the Detroit game in the first quarter. They led Houston and Philadelphia in first halves and lost.

To his credit, Fox has kept the target small, and simple. Because it is.

“It’s execution and it’s execution in all three phases,” Fox said. “Whether it’s the first half or the second half, they’re two equal times. And you have to put a complete game together and we have not done that through the first three games.” 

And the winner is...

“View from the Moon” erred in Dallas by going against its first impression and pick back early in the offseason, that the Bears would lose to the Cowboys, which they did. The Bears have done little to suggest that they are poised to go on any sort of upswing, but the Lions inspire not a lot to suggest that they are an NFC North power. The preseason pick stays:

Bears 17,  Lions 14

View from the Moon 2016 record: 1-2