Detroit passes to set up run team, or do they?

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Detroit passes to set up run team, or do they?

The Detroit Lions are heading into their Monday Night tilt against the Bears ranked as the second-best offense in the NFL. The New England Patriots are No. 1, averaging 436.1 total yards per game with the Lions a close second averaging 419.6 total yards. Detroit completes its aerial assault at a 63.2 clip with roughly 46.2 attempts per game, finishing a contest throwing for about 320 yards per contest.

But what does it mean?

Actually, it means nothing when facing the Bears, but it does prove the Lions are powerful offensively in a pass-happy league. Detroit will attempt to run the ball tonight against the Bears, but Chicagos defense dictates the Lions try to do so. There are three reasons why:

1. The Lions are a league-leader in three wide receiver personnel groupings with Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, and Titus Young as the culprits--it forces Nickel defense. Thus, Bears linebacker Nick Roach will come out and cornerback D.J. Moore will substitute into the game versus this grouping.

2. The Bears live in the Tampa 2 defensive world, which includes two high safeties in Major Wright and Chris Conte playing the deep halves of the field. Cornerback D.J. Moore will be lined up over Detroits third wide receiver, which will be outside the tackle box. Here is the chess game for true football fans where the Bears must win: Can the Bears stop Detroits run game with six in the box?

Let me explain again because it is 6-on-6 (five offensive linemen tight end) with Detroits seventh guy running back Mikel Leshoure running the football. If you count Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford on the bootleg game, Chicago is out-manned by two guys. Stafford can make life difficult for Bears defensive ends Julius Peppers and Isreal Idonije closing down on inside runs if Stafford fakes it, then breaks contain for pass.

3. Detroit will also go shotgun running the football inside and outside, and then will run play action off it, trying to work the middle of the field to put Urlacher and Briggs in a bind hitting the Tampa 2 zone behind the linebackers in front of the Bears safeties.

It will be something to watch unfold during the game. Chicago has not been challenged by other teams yet this season against this grouping because their opponents have been down with wide receiver injuries or, quite frankly, simply not as strong overall. The Bears come into this Monday Night matchup at No. 1 in the NFL at stopping the run. They've only given up 65.8 yards a game while allowing only one rushing touchdown all year. The Lions feel they have their matchups because the numbers are in their favor and will look to challenge the Bears' defensive stats early, then rely on their powerful passing attack late in the game. Tonight's matchup should be a good one.

Wake-up Call: Miggy gets the boot; Rodon's rocky debut; More bad news for Cubs?

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AP

Wake-up Call: Miggy gets the boot; Rodon's rocky debut; More bad news for Cubs?

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White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

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Can Leonard Floyd break out in 2017? The Bears like the early signs

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Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Nationals today on CSN

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Bulls Talk Podcast: An NBA gone wild and Zach LaVine sit down interview

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What pushed Theo Epstein over the edge in making Miguel Montero decision: ‘It screamed out’

 

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”