Capitals

Bears offense knows it needs to improve

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Bears offense knows it needs to improve

CHICAGO (AP) Eventually, the Chicago Bears defense will need help.

The Bears hoped the running game and a diversified passing attack would come around to complement quarterback Jay Cutler's throws to Brandon Marshall on offense, but after four straight wins and a 13-7 victory over the Detroit Lions on Monday night they know they've got a ways to go to assist their ball-hawking defense.

``We're still trying to find our way on offense,'' Marshall said. ``There's some chemistry missing there, but you've got to expect that in a first-year offense.''

In a 41-3 win Oct. 7 over Jacksonville, the offense struggled through a poor first half. The offense started slow in a win over Dallas and against Detroit it started fast but bogged down and needed the defense to force four turnovers to preserve the win. With a difficult schedule coming up, the Bears know they'll need both aspects of the team functioning well.

``In the second quarter, we got a little stagnant but we adjusted well,'' Cutler said.

Cutler took a shot from Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh late in the first half and left briefly, but finished the game. He expects to play Sunday against Carolina when the Bears hope to be more productive against a defense ranked 24th overall and 20th in scoring.

The running game has shown signs of coming around after a slow start, but progress has been sporadic. Running back Matt Forte broke off a season-long 39-yard run in the first quarter to set up the only Bears touchdown. But the Bears were held to 62 rushing yards in the second half while protecting a 10-0 and then 13-0 lead.

The 171 rushing yards looked impressive, but 39 yards came from scrambles by Cutler and backup Jason Campbell as the offensive line had trouble protecting and opening consistent holes. The Bears put some of their inconsistency on Detroit's strong defensive front.

``We knew the front four was the strength of their team so we were going to have to basically beat them up up front so that we can get the running game going and the passing game,'' Forte said. ``We're starting to improve each week in the running game.''

Forte appeared to have injured his arm near the end of the game but the team said he'll be fine for the Carolina game.

``Hard fought game,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ``Guys will have bumps and bruises. But I don't think anyone is hurt seriously where they are going to miss any time.''

That included Cutler, who earned more respect for his toughness while surviving a strong Detroit pass rush.

``We all held our breath a little bit until he came back out there,'' linebacker Brian Urlacher said.

Cutler said he had trouble with his throwing motion after the injury and receiving a pain killer, and it's a problem the Bears will have to contend with against the Panthers.

``It was my right side, so trying to get my right side through was a little bit tough,'' he said. ``I missed some throws. I wasn't feeling exactly 100 percent, but we had to fight through it. The way our defense was playing, we were just trying to drag out the game.''

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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USA TODAY Sports

Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

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Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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