Bears

Bears must find solutions just for one win

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Bears must find solutions just for one win

The state of the Bears was chronicled all too eloquently by coach Lovie Smith amid the aftershocks of the loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Smith had run through the problems of the day, then he paused and changed direction toward the real fallout issues facing his team.

Of course, Im just kind of telling what happened, Smith said. Im not giving you a lot of solutions for the problems we have going on right now, which we have to find out pretty quick with a big game against Green Bay coming up.

Solutions, like the football, have eluded the Bears ever since Jay Cutler fractured is right thumb late in the win over the San Diego Chargers. And whether they have found any since Smiths assessment, beginning with new quarterback Josh McCown, is what the Bears will sort out in Lambeau Field on Sunday night.

No longer is the discussion about whether the Bears can clinch the playoffs with two or three wins, the way it was when Cutler and then Matt Forte went down.

Now it is simply winning one single game. NFL seasons usually are approached that way anyway but the Bears have been reduced to that condition, and unfortunately against the consensus one elite team in the 2011 NFL.

Simple assignment

McCown is now the Bears starting quarterback primarily because Caleb Hanie threw nine interceptions in his four starts. If McCown does nothing else, he is tasked with ending that season-altering pattern.

Green Bay is a lowly 31st in yardage allowed in the NFL (398 yards per game), a respectable 14th (21.1 points per game) and a spectacular No. 2 in turnover ratio with a plus-20. The Packers will give up yardage -- occasionally some points -- but rarely the ball.

And they rank No. 1 in the NFL scoring 34.3 points per game, which means that any takeaway their defense manages will likely end in points.

You dont want to give the ball away, McCown said. But, especially for them, the numbers can be a little skewed, because their offense is so good, that teams are passing against them and trying to move the ball. So theyve always got big leads, so teams are going to get yards against them. But I think what youre concerned with most of all is their takeaways.

It was right there for Bears

Playoffs have not been a prominent topic of conversation since the Seattle game. With good reason. So many scenarios and contingencies exist that any attempt at precise analysis, given the Bears freefall, seems pointless.

But the Bears in fact are still a team with a chance to reach the postseason, and they cant be officially eliminated by the kickoff time Sunday. If they do lose one more, playoffs are out. With Detroit clinching its first postseason birth since 1999 by defeating San Diego on Saturday, if Atlanta wins one more, the Bears are done, but the Falcons do not play until Monday night.

The four-game losing streak was agonizing enough, with its succession of head-shaking plays: Mike Martzs call of the throw-back screen in Oakland, Roy Williams dropped TD pass and Marion Barbers formation foul-up vs. Kansas City, Barbers stay in bounds and fumble in Denver, Hanies two pick-sixes vs. Seattle and 41.8 passer rating throughout the four games.

But the sting was the more acute both because the playoffs were virtually locked up and because while the Bears were losing those four, other playoff wannabes were slipping up on or past them.

The Falcons, over whom the Bears hold a head-to-head tiebreaker, went 3-1. The Detroit Lions bumbled to a 2-2 stretch, and the New York Giants have been 1-3 while the Bears were foundering.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks were going 3-1 to reach 7-7 and the Arizona Cardinals, with surprise fill-in rookie quarterback John Skelton, were putting together a 4-0 sprint. Those two NFC Westers play each other in game 16, but theyve drawn even with the Bears, further reducing the Bears margin for errors.

Its been frustrating, said linebacker Brian Urlacher. It hasnt been hard. You know football is still football. Its still fun. Its been hard to make plays for us for some reason.

As Smith said about finding solutions, the Bears need to find reasons too.

Projected lineups for Eddie Jackson’s charity softball game

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USA Today

Projected lineups for Eddie Jackson’s charity softball game

Eddie Jackson is hosting a charity softball game this Saturday, June 15th at Schamburg Boomers stadium at 5:05pm. It’ll be offense vs defense so let’s take an early look at what these lineups might look like for both teams.

Defense

1. Eddie Jackson

Has home run hitting ability in the leadoff spot and a flair for the dramatic. This rising star puts the pressure on the opposing pitcher from the very first pitch. Plus it’s his game, so of course he’s batting first.

2. Kyle Fuller

Tied for the NFL interception lead in 2018, Fuller’s combination of speed, instincts and film study  at the top of the lineup helps set the table for the big bats.

3. Akiem Hicks

As Ed O’Bradovich said at the 100 year celebration this past weekend, Khalil Mack “is a man-eater, but (Akiem Hicks) is the man who makes it happen.” It’s long been said you put your most important hitter in the 3-hole.

4. Khalil Mack

The quintessential cleanup hitter. Who else would you want in this spot?

5. Danny Trevathan

Provides world champion protection behind Mack in the likely event that the opponent tries to pitch around #52.

6. Roquan Smith

Just when an opponent think they’ve gotten thru the heart of the lineup, the 2018 rookie who came up just shy of Brian Urlacher’s franchise tackling mark is there to “break a man,” as he said right after his Bears intro press conference.

7. Ha-Ha Clinton Dix

Sliding this new addition into the 7-hole takes some of the pressure off of him to make an immediate impact, while also trapping pitchers into thinking they might get a break against a guy who has shown big play ability in the past.

8. Bilal Nichols

One of the most underrated players in the entire league is perfectly fine lurking at the bottom of the order. A second cleanup hitter, he’s happy consistently performing and making his teammates better. Everyone in this lineup knows how valuable he is.

9. Leonard Floyd

Still in a bit of a prove it spot, but if he consistently plays the way he’s shown shown flashes of, he could not only be dangerous in this spot, but he could climb up the lineup pretty quickly.

10. Prince Amukamara

Veteran who knows he’s there to do a job and turn the lineup over. His speed and ball skills make him a threat.

11. Buster Skrine

Another newcomer, let’s see what he’s got at the bottom of the order.

Offense

1. Taylor Gabriel   *Anthony Miller

We can all agree there’s no reason for Miller, a guy who dislocated his shoulder multiple times to be swinging a bat amiright?? Miller has the Willie Mayes Hayes swag you want from the leadoff man when healthy tho.

As for ‘Turbo’ Taylor Gabriel, of course you’re putting a guy who’s been clocked at 23 mph at the top of the lineup.

2. Tarik Cohen

Perfect spot for the swiss army knife of the offense. Could lay down a bunt and beat it out, move the runner, or even hit one to the gap and clear the bases.

3. Mitch Trubisky

The obvious spot for the leader of the offense and Akiem Hicks’ pick (outside himself) to win the home run derby part of this event. Let’s just hope he breaks out the punky QB headband and sunglasses look again this weekend.

4. Kyle Long

The most veteran member of the offensive line is there to protect the QB. Whether or not he’s even in the lineup, if anyone goes high and tight on # 10, better believe they’ll answer to #75.

5. Cody Whitehair

Some more muscle in the middle of the order. Has made it clear he’s good with moving around the lineup if the coaches think it’s best for the team.

6. Allen Robinson

Based on what we saw in the playoff game, he could be on his way to putting up big numbers anywhere in the batting order. Definitely a guy you want up late with the game on the line.

7. Charles Leno

Flies under the radar at one of the most important positions in football. If a pitcher thinks he’s in the clear after getting past Robinson, Leno will be there to throw a big block into that thinking.

8. Trey Burton / Adam Shaheen

When healthy, they provide some pop towards the bottom of the lineup. Let’s have Anthony Miller ready as the designated runner if these guys can get on base.

9. Bobby Massie

The ultimate team guy as he showed by signing a team friendly deal to stay in Chicago much earlier in the offseason than he had to.

10. James Daniels

As the new man in the middle on the offensive line, the burden falls on him to turn the lineup over and set the table for the speedy top of the order.

11. Mike Davis

Good spot to start for this new addition. Could easily see him towards the top of the lineup if he produces the way Matt Nagy & company thinks he can.

The defense has been ahead of the offense for pretty much the entire Pace/Nagy regime. But if Matt Nagy is involved, there’s sure to be no shortage of hidden ball tricks, squeezes and other trick plays with awesome names, so I might have to give a slight edge to the offense in this game.

The Bears are on summer break for the next 5 weeks. So what exactly will they be up to?

The Bears are on summer break for the next 5 weeks. So what exactly will they be up to?

For the second time in 2019, a field goal attempt sent the Bears on vacation.  

This time it was off the feet of Eddy Pineiro and Elliot Fry, both hitting kicks that wrapped up the team’s three days of veteran minicamp. Don’t tell them there weren’t stakes, either.

“They both nailed two 40-yard’ers down the middle so our guys got out of gassers, which was nice,” said Matt Nagy. “So if you heard any cheering, that’s why. Our guys think I’m nice and that if they would’ve missed it, they weren’t going to run anyway. But they were going to run.” 

And now, the Bears go on vacation for the next five weeks -- as mandated by the NFL -- before heading down to Bourbonnais in late July to start the highly-anticipated Year 2. 

What happens next depends on who you ask. For the Bears’ outside corners, coincidence or not, it’s off to bask in the arid heat of southwestern summers. 

“I like to go down to Arizona, where I’m from, and train at my high school,” Prince Amukamara said. “I’m probably not going to do any traveling, but I’ll train and probably get my mind off it a little bit.” 

“I like to get away somewhere a little bit quieter,” Kyle Fuller added. “I go to Arizona ... I play a lot of golf. That’s really it.” 

If you can believe it, Fuller won’t be the only professional football player hitting the links during his down time. For wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, who just recently picked it up, the next month or will be all about tinkering his swing. 

“I'm going to do a lot of golfing this little break,” Gabriel said. “I'm decent, I'm not that good, not just yet. Just two months in, give me a little time.” 

The sense around Halas Hall (and realistically most of the NFL’s other halls) is that the next five weeks will act more as a mental break than a physical one. For example: defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano requested that his unit watch just one hour of film per day. After two weeks of practices in which, on more than one occasion, Nagy had to tell the team to dial back the intensity, the goal is now to find whatever mindset is needed before The Grind starts. For some, that means radio silence. 

“Right now I'm about to go into my shell and I'm going to be hard to reach and hard to talk to,” said Akiem Hicks. “The only person that gets through is Mom.” 

Not everyone will go MIA, though. Trey Burton will stick around Lake Forest while he continues to rehab and get treatment for a sports hernia surgery he underwent this offseason. Mitch Trubisky has no plans to take it easy, either. 

“I’m not thinking about going home, I’m thinking about getting out here to practice in a little bit,” he said. “This is what I love to do, this is what we look forward to do.

“For me, you get to relax and take care of your body for a little bit, but I’m always thinking about football.”

For others, it means soaking up the much-needed time around loved ones that can prove to be elusive for 8 months of the NFL year. Eddie Jackson goes home to Florida to train with “the guys I started with, from when I was little.” Matt Nagy eschews his Bears visor for his Dad Hat, which presumably is also a visor. 

“I personally think it’s important that I make sure I’m still a good dad, a good husband, and during the season you don’t get any of that,” Nagy said. “And that’s your obligation. We’ll be going some places with my family and I’ll put football aside for a little bit, because that’ll make me better if I do that, and better in the season.”