Not pretty, but Bears get the better of Lions

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Not pretty, but Bears get the better of Lions

When a grizzly bear surprised the two campers around their fire, one yelled, Run!
 
The second yelled, You cant outrun a bear!
 
To which the first hollered over his shoulder, I dont have to outrun the bear. I only have to outrun you!
 
It really doesnt matter (yet) whether the Bears are a very good team, only that they are better than the ones they play. Right now they are, particularly the Detroit Lions, who are now officially not a good football team. Not well coached, not well much of anything.
 
But the more important point as far as the Bears were concerned Monday night was the Bears were better than they were, 13-7 better, the lowest point total for a Bears win since the 10-0 handling of the New York Jets in 2010.
 
The result Monday night was a win that may have lacked the flash or the flash points of recent Bears-Lions games. But the more important point as far as the Bears were concerned Monday night was they were better than the Lions were, 13-7 better -- the lowest point total for a Bears win since the 10-0 handling of the New York Jets in 2010.
 
Only the Atlanta Falcons (6-0) have fewer than the Bears one loss. Lovie Smith teams have now won six of the last seven times playing after week off, a testament to preparation and coaching.
 
Were 5-1, Smith said. Thats the position we wanted to be in.
 
For point of reference: The Lions also won last week after their week off. They committed 17 penalties in that game. So much for focus and tightening up. And against the Bears the coaches called 52 pass plays and 15 run plays despite backs averaging 5 yards per carry. Bears defenders talk about stopping the run and making a team one-dimensional. Lions coach Jim Schwartz did that for them.
 
The Bears took the ball away from the Lions four times, making for a total of 10 over the last two times the teams played in Soldier Field, where Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford remains winless for his career. And safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright had near-interceptions in their hands or the total would have been higher.
 
The offense wasnt particularly good, just good enough, with a first-quarter first-possession touchdown, only the second first-quarter TD of the season (Indianapolis).
 
Neither Stafford nor Jay Cutler posted a passer rating as high as 80. But Cutler did his with damaged ribs, five sacks and nine hits. Stafford was sacked three times. He may have thrown for 5,000 yards last year but thats a stat, not leadership, and the Bears have more of that, top to bottom, than the Lions.
 
That doesnt necessarily mean theyre as good as they need or are going to be. But they are 5-1 and thats enough right now to outrun the grizzly. And clearly the Lions.
 
Were not concerned with stats and whos the best, this or that, said defensive end Julius Peppers, who had a sack and two hits on Stafford. Were just trying to get better.
Box score

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

The Kyle Schwarber reboot begins Monday in Iowa

MIAMI – This isn’t a Tommy La Stella situation. The Cubs purposely told Kyle Schwarber to take a few days off to decompress before reporting to Triple-A Iowa. The reboot will begin Monday in Des Moines.

“We’re doing it to hopefully reset him, get him back up with a fresh start,” manager Joe Maddon said. “As you would expect, he was very professional about it, understood it entirely.

“There’s no actual timetable. I don’t anticipate it to be long. But we’ll see how it plays out, give him a little bit of room to get things right and then move it forward from there.”

The Cubs broke the news to Schwarber after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field, where the entire lineup went 1-for-27 outside of rookie Ian Happ’s two-run homer. It left Schwarber hitting .171 with a .673 OPS, not enough to justify his 12 home runs and suspect outfield defense. The Iowa Cubs are in the middle of a four-game series this weekend in Round Rock, Texas.

The Cubs hope Schwarber can regain his confidence and almost become a trade-deadline addition, reenergizing the team the way he did in 2015, when he blasted 16 homers in 69 games and five more in the playoffs.

Under entirely different circumstances in 2012, future All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo used 70 games with Iowa to rework his swing and make adjustments after bombing his audition with the Padres.

“He’s going to go down and be able to exhale a little bit,” Rizzo said. “Hopefully, he can smooth things out. We’re all confident he will. Just do the best down there to get back up here and to be the Kyle Schwarber that we all know and love.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”