Coaching seat warming for more than just Lovie Smith


Coaching seat warming for more than just Lovie Smith

Missing the playoffs four of the past five years has understandably put Bears head coach Lovie Smith on whatever kind of job hot seat the NFL has. Jerry Angelo took the fall for some of the missteps of the post-Super Bowl XLI issues but a new general manager and new chairman are not wedded to Smith.

And if two remaining contract years worth 11 million were reason to give Smith the 2012 season, one year wont be after this.

But Smith is far from the only NFC North coach around whom a serious degree of pressure is building.

The Green Bay Packers won a Super Bowl in 2010 but were a first-game playoff elimination last season. Mike McCarthy has a team that is established as Super Bowl-worthy and another stumble in 2012 will likely start questions about McCarthys stewardship.

Leslie Frazier took over a disaster in Minnesota but has now been given a starting quarterback, starting left tackle and help in the secondary in the past two draft first rounds. GM Rick Spielman may not be willing to consider trading unhappy wide receiver Percy Harvin but he will assuredly be considering options if the Vikings put up another 3-13 season.

But the most intriguing situation is over in Detroit. Jim Schwartz ostensibly has reversed the abysmal slide of the Lions. But he also has a roster with a No.1-overall pick at quarterback and two No. 2-overalls (Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson) to go with a franchise-tagged defensive end (Cliff Avril).

The Lions likely do not qualify for the playoffs last season without Jay Cutler fracturing his thumb. And GM Martin Mayhew told Anwar Richardson over at Mlive.com that the Lions expect to win a Super Bowl eventually.

Mayhew says he is a believer in continuity, speaking of players, coaches and organization, but the Lions have not won a playoff game since Mayhew came in 2009 and anything less than at least a playoff win this season can be considered nothing less than a huge step backwards with a team virtually in its prime.

The Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls could see the mountain top with Doug Collins as head coach. But when they couldnt get to that level, a change was made to Phil Jackson from a pretty successful coach.

If Schwartz cannot end the enabling of character discipline issues that have made the Lions an object of ridicule, he may be called to accountability for underachieving talent sooner rather than later.

Bulls crack the top-10 in ESPN's NBA League Pass Rankings

Bulls crack the top-10 in ESPN's NBA League Pass Rankings

The Bulls have struggled through the 2019-20 NBA preseason but have shown signs of a team on the rise in a drastically different Eastern Conference. ESPN's Zach Lowe released the second half of his NBA League Pass Rankings, with the Bulls making a surprising leap into the top 10 that supports the notion that they are a team set to be entertaining and much more effective in the 2019-20 NBA season.

While Lowe's League Pass Rankings are not power rankings, they go hand-in-hand with the idea that the Bulls are starting to become an interesting team on the national stage.

The highest score a team can get in Lowe's League Pass Rankings is a 50, based on a 1-10 ranking in five separate categories. The Bulls received a score of 34.5, finishing right behind the Utah Jazz.

Lowe credits the potential for Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. to develop into a "rare frontcourt pairing" as one of his main reasons for telling readers to look out for the Bulls this season.

While Markkanen has yet to shoot over 50% from 2-point range and Carter has yet to attempt more than 18 3-pointers in a season, the potential is there for both of these players to improve greatly in both of these areas, truly making them a "rare" and formidable offensive duo. 

Throughout Lowe's League Pass Ranking-breakdown of the Bulls, he had kind words for the Bulls' new pinstriped jerseys, the improvisational ability of the Bulls' veterans and LaVine's dunking ability.

LaVine is the best dunker since prime Vince Carter... 

-Zach Lowe on Zach LaVine 

And while Lowe hinted at Bulls head coach Jim Boylen playing a bit of a character, he had positive thoughts on him as well.

Lowe calls Boylen, "a smart coach," and states "there is even some logic in how he stripped the Bulls down to the basics of physicality and effort upon taking over."

The Bulls have lofty goals for the 2019-20 season, making the playoffs being the biggest one. At the same time, they are not pressuring the roster as Boylen himself has stated the most important goal is to "get better every day."

From what has been written about the Bulls this preseason—including Lowe's League Pass Rankings—it would appear most NBA writers expect the Bulls to be a more entertaining, effective, and cohesive unit over the course of the 2019-20 season. On October 23, when the games start to count, we will see if the Bulls can back up the hype.

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Rams' trade for Jalen Ramsey will have a direct impact on Bears' season

Rams' trade for Jalen Ramsey will have a direct impact on Bears' season

The Los Angeles Rams pulled off a blockbuster trade for Jacksonville Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey Tuesday night, sending two first-round picks (2020 and 2021) and a 2021 fourth-round pick for the superstar defender.

It's the second trade the Rams have accomplished in one day. Los Angeles shipped CB Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for LB Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick earlier on Tuesday, completing a makeover in their secondary that will have a direct impact the Chicago Bears this season.

The Bears travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams in Week 11 as part of a brutal five-game stretch coming off of their bye week. Ramsey makes it even worse.

The Rams had little choice but to pull off a mega-deal like this. They're entering Week 7 with the 19th ranked pass defense and an underwhelming 3-3 record, a far cry from the expectations for last year's Super Bowl runner-up.

Mitch Trubisky and the Bears offense will have their hands full on November 17. The combination of Aaron Donald on the defensive line and Ramsey in the secondary is as intimidating as any defensive duo in the NFL and is capable of destroying even the smartest and most efficient passing attacks. And that's not exactly Chicago's pass offense so far.

Trubisky, who's expected to return from a left shoulder injury Sunday against the Saints, hasn't proven this season that he's capable of staring down the barrel of a Donald-Ramsey alliance. It will be a ridiculously difficult challenge for a quarterback who's still finding his way as a pro.

Ramsey has missed the last three games for a variety of reasons, most of which appear as tricks to remain healthy in anticipation of a trade.  He's a two-time Pro Bowler and has nine interceptions from 2016-2018.

Now, Ramsey is an opponent on Chicago's 2019 schedule.