Bears

Word on the Street: Rodgers has Cutler's back

Word on the Street: Rodgers has Cutler's back

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011
CSNChicago.com

Rodgers has Cutler's back

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the win on Sunday, but he's still looking out for his old friend Jay Cutler.

After hearing Cutler's toughness questioned this week, Rodgers says the criticism is "very inappropriate" and "disrespectful." Rodgers also applauded Bears players for sticking up for their teammate.

Among the critics was Maurice Jones-Drew, who has since apologized for his comments of Cutler. The running back has received death threats because of his remarks, and he's upset that the media does not seem to care.

"I guess death threats towards me and my family isn't head line news but me tweeting my opinion about a person is..." Jones-Drew said on his Twitter account. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Bulls rank top 3 most valuable in NBA

The Chicago Bulls have been ranked as the third most valuable franchise in the NBA. According to Forbes, the franchise is valued at 511 million.

The Bulls fell short of the Los Angeles Lakers (643 million) and the New York Knicks. The Knicks' value rose 12 percent from 586 million to 655 million. (Chicago Tribune)

Blackhawks head to Saskatoon for preseason game

The Blackhawks are headed up north again. CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers reports that the Blackhawks will play the Edmonton Oilers in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in a preseason game on Sept. 20.

Earlier this season, the squad started off the 2010 preseason schedule against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Jonathan Toews' hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba.(CSNChicago.com)

Contador banned for 1-year?

Cycling officals in Spain proposed a one-year ban for Alberto Contador. The cyclist failed a Tour de France doping test in 2010.

If banned, Contador would lose his third Tour title because of the positive clenbuterol result he blames on contaminated meat. Plus, he'd be ineligible to compete in this year's Tour.(Chicago Tribune)

Cubs introduce new team license plate

The Chicago Cubs unveiled their own permanent license plate during a news conference featuring Tom Ricketts, Ernie Banks, and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

The Cubs are now the second Chicago team with their own permanent plates. The Chicago Blackhawks released their team plate last October.

To pre-order the 69 plate, visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com. (ChicagoBreakingSports)

Colon signs with Yankees

He's been out of the major leagues since 2009, but that couldn't stop him from getting a deal with the Yankees. The former Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon agreed to a minor league contract with the New York team.

The 37-year-old right-hander was released by the White Sox in September 2009 after going 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 starts. (Chicago Tribune)

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:

“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries. 

“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”

There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard. 

“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”

There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations. 

But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field. 

“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”

There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that. 

This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else. 

So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.