Cubs

Keeping score: Forte, coordinators and 'Dance in the Desert'

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Keeping score: Forte, coordinators and 'Dance in the Desert'

Always fun to visit Thursdays at 10 a.m. with Danny Mac and Spiegs on The McNeil and Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670 The Score and today was no exception.

Maybe fun isnt exactly the right word, considering the down state of matters at Halas Hall. Mac was sputtering at how Mike Tices offense continues to ignore the receiving talents of Matt Forte and Spiegs wondered if this offense and the way it blocks is really a fit for Forte.

My thought on using Forte as a receiver is that it actually has changed of late; Forte caught six passes at Minnesota and five against the Packers, which is more than one-third of his entire receiving total (30) to that point of the season.

But the bigger point, as I discussed in a previous look at how Cutler is in fact very involved in game planning, is that this is absolutely not all on Tice. Cutler, and assistant Jeremy Bates, are involved in the game plans and then Cutler also has the option of audibles, which Tice gave him.

If Forte is not getting the ball, a major part of that rests with Cutler simply by virtue of the offenses structure.

And maybe Forte works better in a scheme like the zone-blocking system that works so well for Arian Foster, as Spiegs noted. Unfortunately thats not going to happen in Chicago unless there is a complete offensive overhaul. A key for Forte is staying with his one-cut strength and get away from the jump-stop-cut that James Allen once epitomized in the Bears offense of a year ago.

Spiegs also mused on what the Bears in fact could do for an offensive coordinator if Lovie Smith is retained. Smith with one year remaining on his contract will have a tough time selling the O-coordinator job, as Dick Jauron once did and had to promote from within in the person of John Shoop.

The options could be to hunker down and live with Tice, who certainly was a positive influence on the offense under Martz, or promoting Bates from quarterback coach to coordinator. Have to think about that one.

That led into thoughts of whether the Bears can or will win the final two games, and Mac was spot-on in sensing that the conventional thinking that Detroit will be the rougher one may be off base. This will not be a dance by any means, was his observation. That would be a yes.

The Cardinals are a better defense than the Lions, and with the state of the Bears offense right now, Chicago scoring is difficult to envision.

Well see. Curious to see where things stand next Thursday after the Arizona game has been played and Detroit remains.

Follow in-game with me on BearsTalk BearsPulse at CSNChicago.com. Ill be doing the game coverage via Twitter (@CSNMoonMullin) with added info and well have other coverage folded in as well.

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: 2017 season obituary and previewing an interesting winter for Cubs

In the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull, Patrick Mooney and Tony Andracki close the book on the 2017 season following Theo Epstein’s press conference, looking back at what will go down as the craziest calendar year in Cubs history from last November through the team’s loss in the NLCS this October.

Moving forward, where do guys like Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., Justin Wilson and Mike Montgomery fit? Will the Cubs re-sign Wade Davis or go after another proven closer? And how worried should fans be about the offense that completely disappeared in the postseason?

Take a listen below:

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.