Bulls

Miller: Bears' offense may be better than you think

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Miller: Bears' offense may be better than you think

The 23-22 victory over the Panthers can be summed up pretty simply: Chicago had three turnovers in the first half which killed drives, then killed five more drives the rest of the game by simply dropping passes. Its hard to log yardage and score points when eight total drives were essentially wasted by nothing more than lack of execution. Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester, Matt Spaeth and Jay Cutler all played a role, but they also all turned on the offensive switch when the Bears needed to score.

As of right now, Chicago boasts a top ten rushing offense averaging 124 yards per game. The Bears will soon face two highly ranked teams in terms of rushing the football: No. 6 Houston (140.9 ypg) and No. 1 San Francisco (166.6 ypg). Both teams are similar to Chicago in that they aim for the early lead and pound opponents into oblivion running the football.

That wasnt the case for the Bears this past Sunday as the offense was forced to throw the ball to get back into the game. When a team is down two scores--as the Bears were 19-7 with only 5 minutes to go in the game--the running game is placed on the back burner.

It does hurt the Bears not having wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the lineup. Jeffery is still third on the team in receptions with 14 and two touchdowns while recovering from a hand injury. The Red Zone presence of Jefferys game is what is sorely missing.

As for explosive offense, the Bears are right where they need to be and it will only get better. The Bears have 22 explosive plays of plus-20 yards. San Francisco has 24 and Houston has less than the two teams with 18. Everyone thinks the Packers are an explosive offense, well guess what? The Packers offense is tied with the Bears with only 22 plays of plus 20 yards. The Bears only have one while San Francisco (4), Houston (3), and Green Bay (4) have all hit on some big passes. If Cutler leads Marshall on the deep first quarter post route against Carolina, its a touchdown and not an interception. Its a game of inches but the Bears are close to hitting on those plays and its encouraging seeing them attempted.

Yes, the Bears' schedule gets tougher moving forward, but so will their offense. They have proven they can come from behind throwing the football when down two scores, and Houston and San Francisco have not. How did Houstons two minute drill look in their 42 to 24 thrashing by Green Bay? How did San Francisco look coming from behind verse the Vikings (24-13) or the Giants who lambasted San Francisco 26-3? All three of them were losses when playing from behind and forced to throw the football.

The Bears have the advantage, along with their great defense.

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

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AP

Bobby Portis apologizes to teammates as Bulls continue to deal with all-around complicated situation

The mending hasn’t yet begun for the Bulls, but perhaps a good sign in moving forward from the Bobby Portis punch that delivered a concussion and broken facial bones to Nikola Mirotic is that it isn’t being ignored.

Fred Hoiberg is being tight-lipped about where matters stand, but he did at least say Portis returned to practice and apologized to the team Friday afternoon. Hoiberg wouldn’t reveal the contents of Portis’ apology and Portis didn’t address the media, but it’s clear things aren’t business-as-usual at the Advocate Center.

“Bobby was back at practice. It was good to have him back in here,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously, everybody’s looking forward to having Niko back in here, as well, hopefully soon.”

When asked about Portis’ spirit, Hoiberg deflected and preferred to talk about what adjustments the team will have to make in the immediate future, especially with rookie Lauri Markkanen having to go against Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge in the home opener Saturday night.

“That’s the biggest thing we have to do as far as preparing until we get our guys back, is throwing different lineups out there and hopefully getting better with our execution,” Hoiberg said.

Justin Holiday admitted that things aren’t normal, saying the actual games to start the season won’t serve as a welcome distraction because this isn’t something that can just be treated trivially.

He wouldn’t venture into getting into his teammates’ head, saying “Bobby came into today like Bobby. We’re not quite sure what he’s thinking mentally. We can’t assume that.”

But one thing that can’t be assumed is a sweeping under or pretending.

“I mean I don’t necessarily think this is a situation for us to get past,” Holiday said. “I think it’s a situation that obviously (needs) to be brought to the forefront. It’s a situation that needs to be taken care of for those two to be able to come together and be brothers again. I don’t think we’re trying to get past it.”

Holiday has been a leader during this early time, so his words and definitive tone were noticeable.

“They say sometimes you need time to heal,” Holiday said. “Again, we have to think about both situations in this. One guy is trying to get back healthy. And again, I don’t know. I wish I did. I wish we could just fix this the right way, but that’s not the case.”

It’s complicated all around, with no real precedent.

For Hoiberg, his handling has two faces. Since Portis is able to practice but has to sit out seven more games on a team-mandated suspension, he has to walk the line of incorporating Portis in daily drills and activities but also has to prepare a team that wasn’t prepared for two power forwards being out for an extended period.

That was on display Thursday as Quincy Pondexter likely played that position for the first time in his career, and it’s highly unlikely Paul Zipser practiced there at all with the depth the Bulls had until now.

“We have to get our guys ready to play positions that they haven’t played,” Hoiberg said. “We’re getting them in here early. We’re getting a group in to work on our execution. Quincy not only hasn’t played in two and a half years but I don’t know if he has ever played the 4.

“You just have to do the best with what you have.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs' biggest needs this offseason

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Cubs' biggest needs this offseason

Mark Grote (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report) and Jordan Bernfield join Leila Rahimi on the panel. The Cubs’ season is over, so what’s next for the North Siders? Do they need to deal a position player on the Major League roster to get themselves back in the World Series?

That plus the panel discusses if Mitch Trubisky will throw the ball more against the Panthers and whether Lonzo Ball is in for a rough rookie season thanks to his dad.