Miller: Last night was embarrassing

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Miller: Last night was embarrassing

Everyone is going to hammer the Chicago Bears after last nights embarrassing performance while losing to the San Francisco 49ers, 32-7. There really wasnt much to cheer about in terms of effort, execution, and heart.

Not all Bears players lack the want to in the heart department, but the few that do forget its all broadcasted for everyone to see. As disappointing as last night was, there are some very painful realizations of who the Bears are and where they need to go. Here would be the three most glaring realizations:

Jay Cutler

No one can question his toughness, drive, or demeanor moving forward. Without Cutler, the Bears lacked the edginess of accountability this offense apparently desperately needs. Cutlers methods may be unorthodox and at times not professional or pleasing, but his desire to win, ownership in his team, and his emotions was sorely missed.

Offensive Line

I think it's clear that the Bears cannot play from behind, and its ironic losing to the 49ers because they cant pass protect either. Here are the offensive lines who have given up the most sacks in 2012, including the six sacks the Bears gave up last night:

Arizona Cardinals: 44

Chicago Bears: 34

Philadelphia Eagles: 33

Green Bay Packers: 32

San Francisco 49ers: 31

San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh may elect to start Colin Kaepernick moving forward because of his athleticism to avoid sacks, but their formula to win is no different than the Bears'. They want to get a lead, play good defense, and run the football.

As embarrassing as last night was from a pass protection standpoint, right tackle Gabe Carimi was drafted to run the football. Its what he did in college at Wisconsin where he played left tackle, but almost every scout had him moving to right tackle in the NFL because he could run blocks and know his assignments.

Just looking at the Bears' most recent history of where the offensive line has struggled most, reflects when they play a dominant front four defensive line. They have a difficult time when other players like tight ends or backs cannot always be committed to giving every guy help upfront who is outmanned.

Everyone remembers the 10-sack performance against the Giants in Metlife Stadium two years ago, but outings against the Packers this year (seven sacks), and when Jay Cutler worked magic against the Lions front four at Ford Field under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz stick out the most. This is Lovie Smiths chosen path philosophically and why the Bears currently have who they have on the roster.

The key to this is that the Bears must play with a lead or keep games close for this philosophy to be utilized.

Heavy sets give Bears' defense problems

Unless the Bears play with a lead to take an opponent out of these sets, they will continue to see heavy sets.

Heavy sets are two tight end sets, or in last night's case, the 49ers used 350 pound tackle Leonard Davis as a third tight end to run the football. Ive said it numerous times; heavy sets are the blue print to beating the Tampa-2 defense. Its how the Bears beat Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffen, and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli twice in one season in 2001.

Some consider those defenses with defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks, defensive end Simeon Rice, safety John Lynch, and cornerback Ronde Barbert. Heavy sets destroyed them; much like the Bears got destroyed with it last night.

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

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AP

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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.”