Bears

Colts avoid making the wrong kind of history

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Colts avoid making the wrong kind of history

From Comcast SportsNet

INDIANAPOLIS (AP)The Indianapolis Colts piled up wins for more than a decade. Their victory Sunday might go down as one of their most memorable.

After 14 straight losses, 50 weeks without a win and 14 years between non-Peyton Manning victories, the Colts dont have to worry about 0-16 anymore. Theyre 1-13.

Dan Orlovsky threw a touchdown pass and had the key block to spring an 80-yard touchdown run that sealed Indianapolis 27-13 victory over Tennessee, giving Orlovsky the first win of his NFL career.

To finally get one, and in the aspect of a lot of certain situations, it feels great, Orlovsky said. Im very humbled to be a part of it. Im happy for a lot of people on this team, for a lot of people in this organization. It is a lot better than the feeling we have had lately.

And for a change, the Colts had plenty to smile about.

Orlovsky had lost his nine previous NFL starts including the season-finale in Detroits 0-16 season. Hes the first quarterback not named Manning to win a game for the Colts since December 1997 when Jim Harbaugh was the quarterback.

Brown ran 16 times for a career-high 161 yards, tying Tom Mattes franchise record for longest run, set in 1964. The breakout performance might also temporarily quiet some of Browns biggest critics, who have labeled him a first-round draft bust.

Indys much-maligned defense forced three turnovers, scored a touchdown on Jacob Laceys 32-yard interception return and stopped Tennessee (7-7) on fourth down with less than 2 minutes left so Orlovsky could run out the clock with the traditional kneel-down.

Even coach Jim Caldwell got some support.

I just want to say how happy I am for Coach Caldwell, our coaching staff and for our players for how diligently and spectacularly theyve worked and prepared through all this difficulty, team vice chairman Bill Polian said.

But the celebration was muted. After the last defensive stop, Indys players and coaches simply raised their arms as the remaining fans cheered loudly.

The good news was that Colts avoided becoming the first team in franchise history to go 0-14.

The bad news: Theyre still playing for the No. 1 draft pick, which goes to the team with the worst overall record and will have to do it without Manning. Polian ruled him out of the last two games just minutes after the victory.

It (winning) means a lot, but were a proud ballclub so one game out of 13 or 14, we still have a ways to go, defensive end Robert Mathis said. Everybody held the fort today. We just kept chopping wood and the tree fell today.

For Tennessee, its an inexplicable loss that could keep them out of the playoffs.

By closing the season with three straight wins, the Titans could have controlled their own destiny. Now, theyll probably have to win their last two and get help.

In the first half, we played uninspired football on the offensive side of the ball and we still had a 6-3 lead because the defense played very well, Titans coach Mike Munchak said. You have to run the football and we couldnt. Not only could we not run it, we were losing yards and that put us in a tough spot. The turnovers start creeping in and (Jared) Cook fumbles the one that couldve been the chance to get something going then the interception happened. Thats really what killed us.

There were plenty of other problems, too.

Matt Hasselbeck returned from his calf injury but didnt play well, finishing 27 of 40 for 223 yards with no TDs and two interceptions. Chris Johnson ran 15 times for 55 yards. And when Jake Locker got the Titans back in the game after relieving Hasselbeck, the defense couldnt corral Brown.

Lockers 7-yard TD pass to Nate Washington with 3:43 left got the Titans to 20-13.

But on Indys next offensive play, Tennessees defense appeared to have Brown cornered in the backfield. Thats when Brown reversed field and Orlovsky jumped in front of the defender closest to him, running a basketball pick. It was just enough to get Brown a wide-open lane, and he sprinted right through it 80 yards for Indys longest run since Matte in 1964.

He was about to go down. Akeem Ayers came in there for the tackle. Donald just got out of it. I went in for the tackle, and the quarterback cut me off, safety Michael Griffin said. From there I dont know what happened, but we have to tackle better.

Indy opened the scoring with a 47-yard field goal that ended a of more than 500 minutes in which the Colts never had the lead

Rob Bironas answered with two field goals before halftime to give the Titans the 6-3 lead.

This time, Indy needed only about 10 minutes to retake the lead. Orlovskys 18-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne made it 10-6. Lacey followed that with his interception return and Vinatieri made it 20-6 after Indy forced a punt following a muffed kickoff that went out of bounds inside the 1.

Lockers TD put the game back in doubt, but Brown wrapped it up with the long run.

You just feel like a dark cloud has been removed for the time being, of course, the excited Mathis said. Back to work Tuesday, trying to do it again.

Film review: Why wasn't Khalil Mack an effective pass rusher against the Patriots?

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Film review: Why wasn't Khalil Mack an effective pass rusher against the Patriots?

Khalil Mack was not 100 percent against the New England Patriots, a development that became abundantly clear over the course of the Bears’ 38-31 loss.
 
Mack rushed Tom Brady on only 16 of his 54 snaps, dropping into coverage more frequently (18 times) than he tried to get after the quarterback, according to Pro Football Focus. He didn’t record a sack or a quarterback hit, and while PFF credited him with two pressures, his impact was far more limited than it was in the first four weeks of the season.
 
So what went wrong? Was his ineffectiveness due to a bum ankle, or something Brady and the Patriots did?
 
The answer is somewhere in between, after reviewing the 15 clear pass rushing snaps Mack had (the 16th came on a pop pass touchdown to James White, and while it technically counts in PFF’s totals, there was no opportunity for anyone to rush Brady given he got rid of the ball in about a third of a second).
 
The blow-by-blow:
 
No. 1: Mack is lined up, as he was for almost all of these snaps, over the left side of New England’s offensive line. Tight end Dwayne Allen blocks him on play-action, which delays Mack’s rush a bit. While Brady takes about 2.8 seconds to get the ball out on a short pass to running back Sony Michel, the throw goes away from Mack, and he doesn’t have much of a chance on this play. Still, he isn’t able to beat Allen, which becomes a theme here.
 
No. 2: Left tackle Trent Brown has Mack singled, and immediately retreats as soon as the ball is snapped. But that’s by design — running back James White leaks out in the flat, and as soon as Mack engages Brown (instead of being responsible for covering White), Brady dumps the ball off to his running back for a gain of 14 yards. There wasn’t much Mack could’ve done differently here, though New England’s first drive of the game ends with Mack missing a tackle on a Julian Edelman touchdown.
 
No. 3: From the left, White chips Mack, and instead of engaging with Brown, Mack flows back toward the middle of the field as Brady throws a short pass over the middle. Brady needed just a shade under three seconds to get the ball out on this pass.
 
No. 4: This began as one of Mack’s better pass rushes of the game. With his hand in the ground on third-and-seven, Mack has a strong rush toward Brown and executes a good spin move on the left tackle. But Brown was able to re-set and re-gain leverage on Mack after the spin move, taking Mack out of the play. Leonard Floyd, rushing from the right, pressures Brady and forces him to scramble. But from the time Brady got the snap to when he decided to scramble, about 4.3 seconds go by.
 
No. 5: This was the fourth-and-one conversion from Brady to Josh Gordon. While Brady essentially stares down Gordon and leaves his blind side exposed to Mack, he throws the pass about 1.5 seconds after receiving the snap.
 
No. 6. Another quick throw that gets out in a second and a half. By the time Mack engages with Brown, Brady already has got rid of the ball.
 
No. 7: Allen motions from right to left near the goal line, with his responsibility to block Mack — though Mack doesn’t immediately rush at Allen. By the time Mack beats Allen, Brady — who was rolling to his left, toward Mack — is throwing the ball, though the pass falls incomplete.
 
No. 8: Mack is able to pressure Brady by knocking Brown back, and Floyd forces Brady to step up in the pocket. Mack dis-engages and goes back toward the line of scrimmage to chase Brady, forcing him to get the ball out quickly for an incompletion.
 
No. 9: Mack gets doubled on the left and is a non-factor. The sideline mic picks up someone yelling “get him, Leonard” but Floyd slips to the ground while one-on-one with backup right tackle LaAdrian Waddle. Akiem Hicks, though, provides pressure up the middle and forces Brady to throw deep and out of bounds, though he had a little over three seconds to make that decision.
 
No. 10: Near the goal line, the Patriots go hurry-up from under center, and Mack is barely set when the ball is snapped. Roquan Smith and Bilal Nichols, though, quickly generate pressure up the middle, leading to the Bears’ only sack of the game.
 
No. 11: On another quick throw — Brady gets it out in about a second and a half — Brown throws his right shoulder into Mack, making sure he has no chance of affecting the play.
 
No. 12: Mack goes to the inside shoulder of Brown and picks up left guard Joe Thuney on a stunt with Eddie Goldman, which generates some pressure, but Brady makes a short throw a little under three seconds after receiving the snap that’s dropped by White.
 
No. 13: This was one of Mack’s most disappointing pass rushing snaps. Facing a third and two after Mitch Trubisky’s second interception, Mack is one-on-one with Brown and isn’t able to mount any pressure, allowing Brady to easily pick out White in about 2.2 seconds for a first down.
 
No. 14: Mack is lined up to the right this time but gets successfully chipped by Allen. By the time Brady throws the ball, Mack is about five yards from the quarterback, and this pass went for 55 yards to Josh Gordon, setting up a touchdown.
 
No. 15: Mack is one-on-one with Brown and doesn’t mount pressure, though Roy Robertson-Harris does, forcing Brady to make an ill-advised throw that’s picked off by Kyle Fuller.
 
Some visual evidence:
 

The verdict: New England did occasionally commit multiple players to Mack, but frequently it was only the left tackle (Brown) or the tight end (Allen) who were on him. And while Brady is a master of getting the ball out quick and protecting his body, he didn’t seem bothered by Mack at all.
 
The quick throws would’ve been part of New England’s gameplan if Mack were healthy, but chances are the Patriots wouldn’t have singled Mack as much as they did — and almost certainly not with a tight end. That Brown and Allen had the success they did blocking Mack (Allen, in particular, was excellent in blocking Mack while the Patriots were running the ball late in the fourth quarter) speaks to Mack not being 100 percent.
 
The Bears may not get Mack back to 100 percent in the near future, though Nagy said the highest paid defensive player in the NFL is “kind of a freak in regards to his health and how he goes and pain tolerance.” Chances are, Mack will continue to play — he’s never missed a game in his career — but if he does, the Bears need to get more production out of him, especially when there’s only one player keeping him from the opposing quarterback.

Podcast: Bold predictions for the Cubs offseason

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Bold predictions for the Cubs offseason

With the MLB offseason about to kick off, we run down the boldest predictions for the Cubs winter from around the NBC Sports Chicago Cubs content team. Topics include where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will sign, how much money they’ll get, what the Cardinals will do this winter, Cubs offseason trades and how Theo Epstein’s front office may add to the pitching staff.

 

One topic we could all agree on was David Ross' potential as Cubs bench coach if the incumbent Brandon Hyde ends up taking a job as manager for another team around the league.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here and check out all of our bold predictions below:

 

 

David Kaplan

 

—Anthony Rizzo and his new wife, Emily, will adopt Manny Machado, change his last name and see Manny Rizzo playing third base for the 2019 Cubs.

—Because of the Rizzo move, the Cubs will move Kris Bryant to a full-time outfielder.

—The Cubs will trade away Jose Quintana and sign Patrick Corbin.

—The Cubs will sign a pair of former Indians relievers for the back end of the bullpen in Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.

—The Cubs will trade Kyle Schwarber to the Royals for Whit Merrifield, who will start 155 games in the leadoff spot in the order.

—Joe Maddon will be a lot more consistent with the Cubs' lineup and batting order all season.

 

Kelly Crull

 

—Anthony and Emily Rizzo will receive more wedding gifts from Cubs fans than Kris and Jessica Bryan received.

—Anthony Rizzo will train this offseason so he will be able to sing — or play the piano — for the National Anthem at Wrigley in 2019.

—The Cubs will have no money left to remodel the media room at Wrigley Field.

 

Luke Stuckmeyer

 

—The Captain Morgan Club at Wrigley Field is going to be replaced by Kap's Kryo & Keto Korner.

—The Cubs will finally find a solution to the leadoff hitter issue.

 

Tony Andracki

 

—The Cubs sign Bryce Harper for less than $250 million. (He follows 23 people on Twitter)
—Manny Machado does not get a contract for more than $250 million, either.
—The Cardinals will sign Craig Kimbrel and either Machado or Josh Donaldson to play 3B. 

 

Rationale: St. Louis could really use the bat and closer and they have a sense of urgency in the division this winter we haven't seen from them in at least a decade. The Cubs and Brewers have clearly been better for two seasons now and look to have a better chance at contending than the Cardinals in 2019, as well. That can't be sitting well with the "Best Fans in Baseball." 

 

Jeff Nelson, producer

 

—The Cubs will trade 2 of the following players:  Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Addison Russell, Albert Almora Jr.

—The Cardinals will sign Manny Machado to play third base.

—Because of construction delays, the visitors’ clubhouse will not be ready for the home opener, forcing the Pirates to dress at their hotel and come to the ballpark in full uniform.

Mike Piff, social media manager

—Cubs sign Nick Markakis.
—Cubs sign Tyson Ross.

Eric Strobel, producer

—The Cubs 2019 saves leader is not currently on the roster.

Rationale: We saw what happened to the bullpen in Brandon Morrow's absence; it got the job done by and large, but was not longer truly feared. Deep 'pens are the norm in October now with lockdown relievers being counted on more and more. The front office knows they can't truly entrust that kind of workload to Morrow with his injury history - Theo admitted as much in his end-of-season press conference. While they probably will not make a big splash, a huge focus of the offseason will be to surround Morrow/Strop/Edwards/etc. with as many talented arms as possible. The Cubs could very well enter next season without a designated closer, but if they do, it will not be Brandon Morrow.

Scott Changnon, multi-platform producer

—The Cubs will sign Bryce Harper.

Rationale: "I dunno, maybe."

Nate Poppen, producer

—Cubs sign Andrew McCutchen, plug him into CF and make Almora a 4th OF (or expendable)
—Bryce Harper signs with Yankees.
—Manny Machado signs with Angels.

Matt Buckman, producer

Non-roster prediction: The Cubs will welcome Sammy Sosa back to Wrigley Field. Sammy turns 50 this winter, and fueled by our wonderful documentary on 1998, the Cubs will finally mend their broken bond with Sammy and bring him back to Wrigley.

Roster prediction: The Cubs will trade Kyle Schwarber for a leadoff hitter. Joe has had to get very creative with the top of his order since Dexter Fowler left. Though the front office has downplayed the importance of a lead-off hitter the last two off-seasons, they will look to add one for 2019 so that Joe doesn’t have to be so creative. They won’t have a place to play Schwarber after they sign Harper so they will swap his power for a new “you go, we go” guy. Look at KC or TB as AL teams that need to add power and also have guys who could potentially lead off for the Cubs. Mallex Smith (TB) or Whit Merrifield (KC) would be interesting options.