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.

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

The Blackhawks have talked the past several games now about how they need to play better, how they need to get back to their 60-minute game. But even when you tell yourself you have to improve the message doesn't always translate into immediate action. That's especially true if, despite so-so play, you're still managing victories or still eking out a point.

Sometimes, you need a jolt to realize you have to get better. Well, that thud the Blackhawks made in South Florida ought to get their attention. 

The Blackhawks' 7-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, that "ugly, ugly game," as coach Joel Quenneville, is the latest in what's been a mediocre stretch for the team. They've been leaning on their goaltending again (please see Minnesota, Montreal, Ottawa and Dallas games). Or they've been leaning on their ability to wake up in the third period after sleepwalking through the first two. Sixty-minute games and four-line rotations, such a big part of the Blackhawks' success through February and early March, have been absent.

Call it the Blackhawks' mid-March malaise.

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It hasn't been more painful because the Blackhawks have still found ways to get points. Or at least they did until Saturday night, when two "yapping" penalties – Quenneville's (accurate) description of Ryan Hartman and Marcus Kruger's unsportsmanlike calls – started the Blackhawks' demise against the Panthers. Players told the traveling media following the game that this was a wake-up call. It ought to be.

Granted, the Blackhawks' late-season issues aren't as bad as some of their fellow Western Conference teams. The Minnesota Wild are 3-10-1 in March. The San Jose Sharks have lost six in a row. This also isn't the first time the Blackhawks have gone through this late-season mediocrity.

Entering the 2015 postseason they struggled to score goals and lost four in a row (five goals in those four games). It turned out alright. Still, best to avoid bad habits.

Perhaps the Blackhawks are in a bit of a swoon because, really, there's not much for which to play in these final few games. They don't care if they win the Presidents' Trophy (and they probably won't). They're currently in first place by seven points following the Wild's 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit on Sunday. Whether the Blackhawks finish first or second, they'll start this postseason at home. 

So is this panic-inducing? No. Is it a concern? Certainly. The Blackhawks can't start thinking they'll automatically flip the switch as soon as the postseason begins.

The Blackhawks want to get their four-line rotation going again. Artem Anisimov returning in the next week or two will certainly help that. They want to get their overall game going again. The Blackhawks have been telling themselves what needs to be done for a few games now. Maybe they needed a wake-up call. On Saturday, they got it. 

Lake Park's Gino Romano goes 1-on-1 with Edgy Tim

Lake Park's Gino Romano goes 1-on-1 with Edgy Tim

Everyone who took part in the recently-held fifth annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Madness charity tournament played for various charitable reasons. The Lake Park Lancers football team chose to honor a person who embodied the true meaning of service and sacrifice.

Lake Park junior linebacker Gino Romano took a few minutes to explain why they decided to play in honor of fallen Bloomingdale police officer Raymond Murrel, the first ever officer who died in the line of duty for the village.

Romano also discussed the Lancers’ offseason and the team’s overall preparation for the upcoming 2017 football slate.

I caught up with Romano at the tournament in Wheaton. Proceeds benefited the school, the DuPage Hundred Club, Team Red, White and Blue and The Pat Tillman Foundation.

Watch the following video above.