Schwartz shares take on Bears' success, praises Stafford

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Schwartz shares take on Bears' success, praises Stafford

The Lions are coming off a huge overtime win against the Philadelphia Eagles last weekend and according to their head coach Jim Schwartz, that victory gives his team a chance this week to get back to .500. Former NFL executive Pat Kirwin and I caught up with Jim Schwartz on SiriusXM NFL Radio to discuss the (2-3) Detroit Lions Monday Night match-up against the (4-1) Chicago Bears.

During the interview, Schwartz discussed some of the reasons why the Bears are having early success in 2012.

"They are a big play defense," Schwartz said when asked about Chicago's 17 turnovers defensively along with their 18 sacks. "They have a lot of guys who can make plays."

Schwartz was quick to list the Bears playmakers like Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and the front four defensive linemen for Chicago. But for Schwartz, there is one reason why the Bears are winning.

I think the biggest difference in their start this year, in their 4 wins, is theyve gotten leads, Schwartz said."Theyve also been able to hold that lead and thats the formula for their defense to create turnovers. Schwartz explained further saying, Playing with a lead has forced teams to throw to catch up where they (Bears) have let their pass rushers go.

Schwartz clearly believes his team cannot afford to fall behind Monday Night against Chicago.

I think its important not to play from behind because it plays into their hands. If we can get the lead we can take away that advantage of them pinning their ears back.

It will be interesting to follow tonight, especially because the Lions played from behind last week against Philadelphia. The Lions passed the ball 48 times while not giving up a single sack. Schwartz credited his quarterback, saying, A lot of that is Matt Stafford getting rid of the ball quick and moving around. Matt was being smart and throwing it away.

Something has to give tonight from a protection stand point if the Lions do play from behind. The Bears' front four is much more accomplished with their 18 sacks than Philadelphias seven sacks for the year. By the Eagles not sacking Stafford once, it now has been 4 weeks in a row they have not registered a sack.

Did Nelson Rodriguez say the Fire went after Carlos Tevez?

Did Nelson Rodriguez say the Fire went after Carlos Tevez?

All the buzz around the Chicago Fire right now is obviously the signing of Bastian Schweinsteiger, but general manager Nelson Rodriguez offered a hint at another player that had their eyes on.

During this week's Fire Weekly, Rodriguez talked about landing impact offensive players in regards to Schweinsteiger and said the club was looking at multiple different players.

"You carry simultaneous tracks on a lot of players," Rodriguez said. "We looked at a different form of impact offensive player than Basti is. Some of those we lost out on. One we lost out on to China when he signed for $84 million. We're just not going to swim in those waters. There's no rational sense to that contract."

Naturally there aren't many players that signed for $84 million anywhere, let alone in China. By process of elimination, Rodriguez sure makes it sound like the Fire made some effort to acquire Carlos Tevez. The 33-year-old Argentine striker signed a huge deal with Shanghai Shenhua in December that was reported to be worth 84 million euros.

This isn't the first time Rodriguez has dropped a hint about other players they've targeted. At the team's season kickoff luncheon on Feb. 27, Rodriguez said the team had looked at a few players to fill the team's open designated player spot, which Schweinsteiger has now occupied.

"Two of the players that we had on our list, we didn't make offers for so I want to be clear the two players we were tracking, one signed in Mexico with a big club in Mexico and one went to China for big money so they're off our list," Rodriguez said then.

Speculation remains open as to who the player that signed in Mexico was, but what Rodriguez said on Wednesday indicates that Tevez was the player who went to China. This also indicates that the negotiations didn't progress very far if the Fire never made an offer to Tevez, but it does sound like the Fire at least 'looked at' adding Tevez.

Cubs remember Dallas Green's impact on Wrigley Field

Cubs remember Dallas Green's impact on Wrigley Field

MESA, Ariz. — Dallas Green pictured what the Cubs have now become, striking gold in the draft, swinging big deals and pushing to modernize Wrigley Field. The Plan, The Foundation for Sustained Success, all those buzzwords had parallels to the 1980s franchise built in Green's image.

Green — a larger-than-life presence in some of baseball's most intense markets — died Wednesday at the age of 82 after a colorful career and a battle with kidney disease.

Green spent 46 years with the Philadelphia Phillies, guiding them to the 1980 World Series title and working at virtually every level of the organization. Green also pitched eight seasons in the big leagues and managed both the New York Mets and Yankees. But Green clearly raised expectations in Chicago, where he drew up the rough blueprint the Theo Epstein regime would follow 30 years later.

"Absolutely, there's no question," bench coach Dave Martinez said. "He had a vision. He was trying to build an organization from within."

Green took over baseball operations on the North Side and made a franchise-altering trade in 1982, using his Philadelphia connections to steal future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa for Ivan de Jesus.

Green's scouting department would draft Greg Maddux, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark Grace and Shawon Dunston. Trading for Rick Sutcliffe in the middle of the 1984 season led to the club's first playoff appearance since the 1945 World Series. Signing Andre Dawson to the blank-check contract helped fuel a 93-win season in 1989.

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Green had already been fired after repeated clashes with Tribune Co. bosses and a last-place finish in 1987. The force of Green's personality also helped the Cubs finally install lights at Wrigley Field in 1988.

"What a good baseball man," said Martinez, who got drafted by the Cubs in 1983 and lasted 16 seasons in the big leagues. "He could be hard, at times, but you respected that from him. He gave me and a bunch of other players I came up with the chance to play. And I can honestly say he really loved all of us kids. He thought at one point that we were going to be something special — if we would have stayed together.

"We thought we would be there together for a long time. It didn't work out that way, but he knew talent."

Even before this generation of Cubs executives traded for Jake Arrieta and Addison Russell — and drafted Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber — general manager Jed Hoyer understood the challenge Green undertook.

"When we first got to Chicago," Hoyer said, "you look back and think about what other times in the history of the Cubs did people try to do something similar to what we were doing. Really, him taking over in the 80s and building the '84 team is probably the most similar when you look at it. Some of those great trades that he made — those gutsy trades that he made — are pretty similar in a lot of ways.

"Were it not for a couple big breaks, they might have been able to end the curse a lot earlier."