Bears notes: O-line performs well amidst shakeup

954709.png

Bears notes: O-line performs well amidst shakeup

The Bears offensive line went through a few changes this week thanks to injuries. And for the most part, the line had a solid outing.

Jay Cutler was sacked just once and that was when he fumbled and the Bears rushed for 132 yards in their 23-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The Bears had to make some switches on the offensive line, including moving Gabe Carimi to right guard. And all things considered, the offensive line was fine.

We didnt give up a lot of sacks and things like that, coach Lovie Smith said. We did what we needed to do to stay in the game. We just needed to get some help in other places.

Cutler said the line was OK. They could still anchor a little better. But they are giving me time.

While the Bears running game got off to a slow start, it ended up producing. Matt Forte and Michael Bush combined for 105 yards, an average of 3.8 yards per carry.

They played well, given the switch around, and Gabe playing guard and Ed (Williams) having to be in there, Forte said. They played very well.

But for Roberto Garza, the offensive lines adjustments were of little consolation.

At the end of the day, you want to win the football game, he said. Thats all that matters. We didnt do enough.

SO CLOSE, YET

Major Wright hoped he had caused a turnover in overtime, hoped that he had jarred the ball loose from Seattle receiver Sidney Rices hands before Rice got into the end zone. But it wasnt to be, as officials ruled Rice and the ball broke the plane before Wright knocked the ball loose and knocked out Rice for a moment.

I thought we had a chance, Wright said. But at the end of the day, the refs made a call. They came out and made a call.

Rice said he and quarterback Russell Wilson had practiced the route all week and he knew he scored.

I definitely knew I was in. They just made me stay down because I got a little dinged up, Rice said. I had a couple concussions before. They just wanted to make sure I was all right.

QUICK HITS

-- Safety Chris Conte left the game early due to the flu, and was replaced by Craig Steltz. Safety Major Wright said Conte said he wasnt feeling well early.

It was probably the second series. He said he felt dizzy, light headed, was throwing up. I thought, Wow, I didnt know.

-- Entering Sunday, Jay Cutler was 25-0 when he had a 100-plus passer rating. Cutler had a 119.6 passer rating in Sundays loss to Seattle.

-- The Bears recorded their 300th takeaway since 2004 when Brian Urlacher stripped Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch in the first quarter on Sunday. Cornerback Kelvin Hayden recovered the fumble.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

[SHOP: Get your Bulls gear right here]

The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Here are some of the top Chicago sports stories from

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Bulls erase recent struggles, hand Spurs first road loss of season

Joe Maddon breaks down Wade Davis vs. Aroldis Chapman as Cubs ramp up for another World Series run

Rick Hahn: White Sox 'still thoroughly, deeply engaged' in trade talks as meetings close

Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook out vs. Rangers

Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls

Bears, Lions have been totally different teams in fourth quarters

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Cubs unveil championship Trophy Tour