Tice: No 'Brandon Ratio' but

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Tice: No 'Brandon Ratio' but

When Mike Tice was Minnesota Vikings head coach a decade ago, the Randy Ratio was in operation. At least 40 percent of passes thrown were going to go toward Randy Moss.

We certainly had a number of plays offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and I talked about this many targets for Randy, Tice told CSNChicago.com on Wednesday. We knew what that was and we stayed at it.

According to one count the Vikings were 4-1 in 2002 when they hit the Ratio point, 1-10 when quarterback Daunte Culpepper didnt.

The Bears are 7-1 to this point of 2012 with a Brandon Ratio that has slightly more than 37 percent of Jay Cutler passes intended for Marshall. That is not necessarily by design. However

There is no Brandon Ratio, Tice said. I do know this that on third downs were going to have some opportunities that are going to go his way. He does such a great job on third downs.

Tice was not revealing any game plan with his declaration that the league already was not amply aware. Marshall is the NFLs leading receiver on third-downs, with 19 catches and an average of 15.6 yards per third-down reception. Four of his seven touchdowns have come on third downs.

Marshall not the problem

Cutler has targeted Marshall 86 times this season (90 per ESPN.com numbers). The next-closest is among wide receivers is Earl Bennett at 32, then 28 for Matt Forte. Devin Hester has been targeted 23 times.

Notably, rookie Alshon Jeffery also has been targeted 23 times and hes missed the last three games plus the fourth quarter of the Jacksonville game with his broken hand, after playing his way into the starting lineup in part because he caught 14 of those 23. Cutler was throwing to him because he trusted him.

If Cutler is locking onto one receiver excessively, he can be the cause of a one-dimensional offense. But if Hester is getting open just 23 times in eight games, then something is wrong with No. 23. If Bennett is only getting open 32 times in his six games, then Cutler can be excused for going to No. 15 and his own private Brandon Ratio.

Trust factor

Receivers are tasked with earning a quarterbacks trust. Even if Cutler is looking too much for Marshall teams with 100-catch receivers rarely win Super Bowls the bigger challenge is to Bennett, Hester and Jeffery when he returns is to establish themselves with a quarterback whose trust is easily shaken.

The number of passes to one of the elite receivers in the NFL and clearly the best ever in a Bears uniform is not the problem. Getting the ball to a superstar does not fit neatly in any notion of problem.

But Cutler and Marshall won exactly zero in their two seasons starting together with Marshall catching 102 and 104 passes. They did not have a winning season either year.

When Tice operated with the Randy Ratio with Moss, the Vikings were 5-11 in 2001 with Moss catching 82 with 10 touchdowns and Cris Carter 75. They went 6-10 on 2002 with Moss 106 and seven TDs. Moss 111 catches and 17 touchdowns in 2003 were good for 9-7 but not for postseason.

Our receivers are playing hard, blocking their butts off, Tice said. But our passing game is going to go through Brandon.

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

LOS ANGELES – A man stepped to the microphone during a Q&A session at Cubs Convention and called Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman “the two boy geniuses.” The fan told Epstein how his friends used to call the Dodgers baseball boss “your Mini-Me,” asking about their personal rivalry and if beating L.A. in the playoffs had any extra meaning.

“We have a friendly rivalry,” Epstein told a packed hotel ballroom in downtown Chicago in January. “First off, didn’t he interview for an internship with us and we turned him down way back in the day?

“And then like nine months later, he was GM of the Rays. When he was with Tampa and I was with Boston, we never spoke, because we were in the same division. It was kind of a heated rivalry. We literally never called each other on trades or anything like that.”

But where it’s so difficult for the small-market Rays to keep up with the ultra-rich Red Sox – and replace Friedman’s vision and Joe Maddon’s star power and survive a string of wasted first-round draft picks and find a long-term stadium solution – the Cubs and Dodgers are positioned to be superpowers for years to come.

That’s what makes this Memorial Day weekend showdown at Dodger Stadium so compelling beyond the National League Championship Series rematch. It’s not just upcoming free agent Jake Arrieta returning to the site of his onesie no-hitter on Friday night, a reigning MVP (Kris Bryant) and Rookie of the Year (Corey Seager), two of the best closers on the planet (Wade Davis and Kenley Jansen) and a classic Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs eliminated the Dodgers less than a month after Epstein finalized a five-year contract worth in the neighborhood of $50 million, likely surpassing Friedman as the game’s highest-paid personnel executive.

“Jed developed a pretty good relationship with him, because I didn’t like talking to him,” Epstein said, referencing GM Jed Hoyer, another Boston transplant on the Cubs Convention panel that day. “But then when I came out here with the Cubs, a different league and everything, I developed a much better relationship with Andrew and we became friends, so now it’s much more of a friendly rivalry.

“I will say that losing to the Dodgers would have been a bitter pill to swallow on a number of fronts, including that one. But they’re developing a powerhouse out there.

“We see them as a team we have to go through each year to get where we want to be.”

[MORE CUBS: Summing up the Cubs' impressive, potentially season-altering homestand]

Backed by Guggenheim Partners’ financial muscle and flush with new TV money, the Dodgers have won four straight division titles and 90-plus games each season while ramping up a farm system that’s now ranked fourth, fifth or sixth by Baseball America, ESPN and MLB.com.

“Everyone’s got their own style and their own approach,” Epstein said. “Ours was more kind of bottom-up (where) they needed to keep it rolling at a high level in the big leagues while retooling their system and nurturing the talent that was already there.

“We had to go out and transact and bring some stuff in. We were at different points of the success cycle. They’ve done a really nice job of winning while kind of establishing something new at the same time.”

The blue-blooded franchise that produced 17 Rookie of the Year winners last month rolled out Cody Bellinger, a 21-year-old, left-handed first baseman with nine homers in his first 28 games in The Show. Julio Urias – who might be the next Fernando Valenzuela – is supposed to be conserving some innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City for another October where the Cubs could be standing in the way of the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988.

“They’ve been producing great young talent for a long period of time,” Epstein said. “If you go back and look at some of the young studs they have in the big leagues that (former scouting director) Logan White and (the previous regime) brought in, some of the guys are still coming.

“They’re stocked and the Dodger tradition runs really deep. With Andrew and his front office, we know they’re going to be dynamic. They’re going to have more resources than anyone. And they’re a big threat to the whole league for a long period of time.”

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Tom Thibodeau was without Derrick Rose for the first time in his head-coaching career last season, coaching the Timberwolves while Rose suited up for the New York Knicks.

But a reunion may be on the horizon. Rose is an unrestricted free agent and the Timberwolves, though they don't have a real need at point guard, are showing interest in the Chicago native. We'll have to wait until July 1, when free agency begins, to see what happens.

See what special guest Nick Friedell, Bulls beat reporter for ESPN, had to say about the topic on SportsTalk Live in the video above.