Evaluating the Bears OL? Look a little deeper

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Evaluating the Bears OL? Look a little deeper

CSNChicago.com (at least this humble chronicler of gridiron games) has not bought into any of the hysteria reaction over the offensive line for about two years. The Mike Martz Factor has been analyzed in no small detail, so enough on that; Martz (and, critics would say JMarcus Webb) didnt block anybody last year. But the former was his own issue.

Consider something else, though:

The quarterbacks.

Some perspective here. The Indianapolis Colts allowed 16 sacks of Peyton Manning in 2010. They gave up 35 last season. Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem and the Colts line twice as bad one year to the next? Dont think so.

Matt Schaub had the Houston Texans rolling when he was injured in Week 10. He was being sacked 1.6 times per game. T.J. Yates did a nice relief job, but he also was sacked 15 times in basically five games' worth of playing time.

Figure it another way: Schaub was being sacked once every 19 pass plays. Yates was sacked once every 9.9 attempts.

Jay Cutler was sacked 2.3 times per game through his 10. Caleb Hanie and Josh McCown in six games went down 26 times, or 4.5 times per game. Did the offensive line just get twice as bad 10 weeks into the season? Probably not.

Jared Allen had the only sack of a Chicago quarterback (Cutler) by a Minnesota Viking in the teams first meeting last year. McCown was sacked seven times, three by Allen, in that final game.

If you want to declare the offensive line a disaster zone, then youre saying that Hanie was maybe pretty good and just didnt get any protection. You sure you want to go there?

The offensive line doesnt need anyone running interference for it. Thats their job for Cutler and Matt Forte (presumably) and Michael Bush.

But there is a lot more to the offensive-line story for 2011, and now 2012, than JMarcus Webb. A lot more.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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