Cubs

Miller: Last night was embarrassing

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Miller: Last night was embarrassing

Everyone is going to hammer the Chicago Bears after last nights embarrassing performance while losing to the San Francisco 49ers, 32-7. There really wasnt much to cheer about in terms of effort, execution, and heart.

Not all Bears players lack the want to in the heart department, but the few that do forget its all broadcasted for everyone to see. As disappointing as last night was, there are some very painful realizations of who the Bears are and where they need to go. Here would be the three most glaring realizations:

Jay Cutler

No one can question his toughness, drive, or demeanor moving forward. Without Cutler, the Bears lacked the edginess of accountability this offense apparently desperately needs. Cutlers methods may be unorthodox and at times not professional or pleasing, but his desire to win, ownership in his team, and his emotions was sorely missed.

Offensive Line

I think it's clear that the Bears cannot play from behind, and its ironic losing to the 49ers because they cant pass protect either. Here are the offensive lines who have given up the most sacks in 2012, including the six sacks the Bears gave up last night:

Arizona Cardinals: 44

Chicago Bears: 34

Philadelphia Eagles: 33

Green Bay Packers: 32

San Francisco 49ers: 31

San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh may elect to start Colin Kaepernick moving forward because of his athleticism to avoid sacks, but their formula to win is no different than the Bears'. They want to get a lead, play good defense, and run the football.

As embarrassing as last night was from a pass protection standpoint, right tackle Gabe Carimi was drafted to run the football. Its what he did in college at Wisconsin where he played left tackle, but almost every scout had him moving to right tackle in the NFL because he could run blocks and know his assignments.

Just looking at the Bears' most recent history of where the offensive line has struggled most, reflects when they play a dominant front four defensive line. They have a difficult time when other players like tight ends or backs cannot always be committed to giving every guy help upfront who is outmanned.

Everyone remembers the 10-sack performance against the Giants in Metlife Stadium two years ago, but outings against the Packers this year (seven sacks), and when Jay Cutler worked magic against the Lions front four at Ford Field under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz stick out the most. This is Lovie Smiths chosen path philosophically and why the Bears currently have who they have on the roster.

The key to this is that the Bears must play with a lead or keep games close for this philosophy to be utilized.

Heavy sets give Bears' defense problems

Unless the Bears play with a lead to take an opponent out of these sets, they will continue to see heavy sets.

Heavy sets are two tight end sets, or in last night's case, the 49ers used 350 pound tackle Leonard Davis as a third tight end to run the football. Ive said it numerous times; heavy sets are the blue print to beating the Tampa-2 defense. Its how the Bears beat Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffen, and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli twice in one season in 2001.

Some consider those defenses with defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks, defensive end Simeon Rice, safety John Lynch, and cornerback Ronde Barbert. Heavy sets destroyed them; much like the Bears got destroyed with it last night.

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

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USA TODAY

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

Is Cubs manager Joe Maddon taking the heat and covering for Wade Davis while the All-Star closer deals with atypical soreness in his right arm?

“No, no,” Maddon said Tuesday when asked if Davis felt anything unusual that lingered into the National League Championship Series after last week’s all-out effort eliminated the Washington Nationals from the divisional round.

The Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven bullpen battle without Davis throwing a single pitch, the backlash from Cubs fans, Twitter and the national media again putting Maddon on the defensive, the year after he got second-guessed for pushing Aroldis Chapman so hard during the World Series.

This NLCS truly is a bizarro world, with Maddon comparing the Buster Posey Rule to the Chicago soda tax, getting so little benefit of the doubt – the Cubs really did beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 – and working the baseball term “dry-hump” into one answer during Monday’s Wrigley Field press conference.

Maddon said he would have to check first with Davis – who would have almost five full days in between relief appearances – if the Cubs need a four- or five-out save in Game 3.

“Nevertheless, I always check,” Maddon said. “I can’t just assume that.”

Maddon’s Game 2 calculus on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium – sticking with lefty reliever Brian Duensing in a 1-1 game to start the ninth inning and then bringing in John Lackey to serve up the walk-off, three-run homer to Justin Turner – made you wonder if Davis was still dragging after ending Washington’s season and traveling on the overnight cross-country flight that got diverted to New Mexico for about five hours when Jose Quintana’s wife experienced a panic attack.

“I think he just got mentally exhausted,” Maddon said. “Physically, 44 pitches, he hasn’t done that in a while. But also the seven outs and what it meant and the plane ride itself, sitting on the tarmac, there was a lot of non-rest going on right there, so it was harder to recover.

“So, no, he was fine for the last game, but we set up the parameters before the game.”

Maddon is sticking with his story, that he would only deploy Davis in a save situation and not use him for one out against Turner (1.115 career postseason OPS) or have him totally warm up without the guarantee of getting him into the game.

“To put Wade in that position would be wrong on my part,” Maddon said. “We had already talked about the circumstances, so my loyalty there lies with Wade, or my decision-making lies with Wade, nobody else.

“That was a heavy day for him (in Washington). Going into the last game in L.A., like I talked about, we talked about one inning only, and not to get up and not put him in the game.

“If you get him up and sit him down, then you have no idea what it’s going to look like. My responsibility is to him, also, and to the players, so I told him that before the game, so I had to stick with our decision.”

Before finalizing the Jorge Soler trade at the winter meetings, the Kansas City Royals took the unusual step of allowing the Cubs to meet with Davis at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley and go through a physical exam. The Cubs wanted reassurances after Davis spent parts of last season on the disabled list with a forearm strain and a flexor strain.

The Cubs wondered if “dry-humping” had contributed to those injuries, and tried to stay conservative with Davis during his free-agent year, watching him convert his first 32 save chances and using him for three-plus outs only three times during the regular season, all in mid-to-late September.

“If you look at the numbers this year, I thought going into the playoffs his usage has been really good,” Maddon said. “Minimal, in a sense. We didn’t get him up hardly at all where we didn’t utilize him.

“He just wasn’t set up for it the other day. So honestly, I think he’s in really good shape right now, actually. I don’t think he could have gone those seven outs the other day if he had been overly dried up during the course of the season. He felt good. But that was above and beyond, and that wasn’t part of the game plan the other night.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

Sports Talk Live is on location at the Brickhouse Tavern at Wrigley Field to get you set for Game 3 of the NLCS. David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Jesse Rogers (ESPNChicago.com) and Bob Nightengale (USA Today) join Kap on the panel. 

Plus, Ben Zobrist and Curtis Granderson drop by to talk about the big matchup.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: