White Sox

Bears have their 'backs against the wall'

954729.png

Bears have their 'backs against the wall'

Right tackle Jonathan Scott is a relative newcomer but he cut to a painful core reality after Sundays 20-17 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks:

Our backs are against the wall, Scott said.

Losing a third out of four games against teams with winning records will put a team, even one that is still 8-4, in that unpleasant spot.

But thats precisely where the Bears realistically are after being in the discussion of NFLs best along with Atlanta and Houston before the Texans and San Francisco 49ers games effectively ended those musings.

Lovie Smith said during his pregame visit with WBBM play-by-play announcer Jeff Joniak that the Bears were already in playoff mode. The problem is that they are now in danger of slipping out of the playoffs, sitting at the No. 5 seed right now.

Green Bay (8-4) is the de factor NFC North leader after putting down the Minnesota Vikings (6-6) on Sunday. Beyond the Packers having beaten the Bears already, which can be addressed by a Bears win in two weeks when Green Bay comes to Soldier Field, the Packers also are 3-0 in division play. The Bears and Packers are the only teams on each others remaining schedule with a record above .500.

So what?

But all that playoff analysis means absolutely nothing if a team that prides itself on defense cannot make one stop with a game on the line. And Lovie Smith knows it.

Once you get a lead, youve got to be able to hold a lead at home with our defense, Smith said. Defensively we didnt get a lot doneJust not the type of football that we play around here.

Smith needs to hope not. His defense allowed drives of 94, 107 (Seattle was penalized 10 yards and made that up a play later) and 85 yards (also with a penalty of their own thrown in and overcome).

The defense wasnt admitting it was tired at the end of the game, but it clearly was, just looking at some of the 1,000-yard stares in the locker room afterwards. The concerning part of that is that it had nothing to do with age, heat or anything else, just bad play.

I dont think we were gassed, said defensive end Shea McClellin. We rotate in and out enough; we shouldnt be gassed. I dont think that was the issue.

It wasnt. You get tired when youre on the field too long, and the issue was not finishing off Seattle on third-and-longs when they presented themselves.

Smith acknowledged that poor tackling was a problem, and we couldnt get off blocks, we didnt take the ball away enough.

Seattle jinx?

The ignominy on Sunday was that it was the third straight loss, at home, to Seattle. And it came just as the 49ers were losing in overtime, which would have put the Bears back in the No. 2 playoff spot had the Bears been able to make any sort of defensive stand. Just one, against rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, whom they couldnt entirely keep up with even with the help of a spy system of assigning speed end Shea McClellin to keep an eye on the guy.

Changes coming?

Coaches have made performance-based position changes this season, at two different spots on the offensive line, at defensive end and at nickel back.

CSNChicago colleague Jim Miller posited on our Bears Postgame Live that after two dismal defensive performances in three weeks, more changes perhaps should be in the offing.

Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli have rarely suffered perceived under-performance for long. And while virtually everyone is perhaps already on the field, playing time may be apportioned differently based on evaluations over the next few days.

Surprised

Seattle threw some minor surprises at the Bears defense by using some shotgun formations that said Pass but were run plays or options, defensive players said.

The task then was just to stay on keys, which the Bears didnt do, keep Russell Wilson in the pocket, which the Bears also didnt do, and make tackles when they did get to where they needed to be, which they also didnt do too well.

We pride ourselves on playing defense, said safety Major Wright, who missed a chance at an interception in the final minutes that would have ended Seattles go-ahead touchdown drive. Russell Wilson got out of the pocket a couple of times and we had to break down and make tackles.

Which didnt happen soon enough.

Dane Dunning left minor league start with 'moderate' elbow strain

Dane Dunning left minor league start with 'moderate' elbow strain

Dane Dunning has been nothing but consistent since joining the White Sox organization in the Adam Eaton trade before the 2017 season.

He has performed well at three different levels in the minor leagues and has stayed healthy. That second part is currently in question after he left a start for Double-A Birmingham on Saturday with elbow soreness.

Dunning left in the fourth inning in what was developing into one of his worst starts of the season. He had four strikeouts, but also walked four and gave up two runs (one earned). The four walks matched a season high.

Here is how things went down on his final pitch:

It's too early for a full diagnosis, but Dunning is expected to have an MRI in the next few days. White Sox manager Rick Renteria talked about Dunning's injury before Sunday's game against the Athletics.

"I think everybody considered it a very moderate strain," Renteria said. "Nobody is at this point too concerned. They still have to re-evaluate more. We won’t know more until they get further evaluation and at that point everybody will know where he’s at. Right now he still has to be re-evaluated."

Dunning, 23, began the season at Single-A Winston-Salem where he posted a 2.59 ERA in four starts with 31 strikeouts against three walks in 24 1/3 innings. The Florida product then was promoted to Birmingham where he has a 2.76 ERA. In 11 starts with the Barons, Dunning has 69 strikeouts and 23 walks in 62 innings.

Dunning is one of the top pitching prospects in the White Sox farm system along with Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

Chris Kuc contributed to this report.

61 Days to Kickoff: Maine West

61 Days to Kickoff: Maine West

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Maine West

Head coach: Jason Kradman

Assistant coaches: Steve Piha (Def. Coordinator), Mike O'Brill (DB/ST Coordinator), Tony Manicke (LB/Head JV Coach), Dan Wilson (OL) Russ Swenson (TE) Ryan Willett (QB) Matt Boswell (DL) Trent Greco (WR) Kyle Prater (WR) Mike Smith (Head Frosh Coach) Joe Duszynski (Frosh Asst.) and DJ Frey (Frosh Asst.).

How they fared in 2017: 7-3 (4-1 Central Suburban North Conference). Maine West made the Class 7A state football playoff field. The Warriors lost to Benet Academy in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Mundelein

Sept. 1 @ Fenton

Sept. 7 vs Elk Grove

Sept. 14 @ Hersey

Sept. 21 vs Glenbrook North

Sept. 28 @ Maine East

Oct. 5 vs Vernon Hills

Oct. 12 vs Highland Park

Oct. 19 @ Deerfield

[MORE: 65 Days to Kickoff - Elmwood Park]

Biggest storyline: Will history repeat itself? Can the Warriors post back-to-back IHSA state playoff appearances? If so, it'd be a first for the Des Plaines high school.

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Jake Bellizzi, FB/LB Krystian Garbicz and WR/DB Ely Grimmer

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors will need to replace standout TE Matt Kentgen (now at Butler). He was a multi-year starter and team leader last fall.  

EDGY's Early Take: Maine West, coached by Jason Kradman, has been one of the area's better success stories. Kradman took over the Warriors program in 2014 and guided the Warriors to their first state playoff appearance since 2002. With 13 returning starters back from a season ago (seven offense, six defense) and a program-wide boost in overall numbers and excitement, look for the Warriors to have a good shot at playoff football once again this October.