Bears

CSN to air brand new documentary special chronicling Cubs manager Joe Maddon's return to his hometown of Hazelton, PA

CSN to air brand new documentary special chronicling Cubs manager Joe Maddon's return to his hometown of Hazelton, PA

“Going Home: Joe Maddon presented by Binny’s Beverage Depot” premieres Thursday, January 14 at 9:30 PM CT -- Exclusively on Comcast SportsNet

Chicago, IL (January 11, 2016) – Coming off one of the most remarkable first-year managerial efforts in Chicago Cubs history, Comcast SportsNet will provide viewers with a brand new documentary entitled Going Home: Joe Maddon presented by Binny’s Beverage Depot, a half-hour Comcast SportsNet Original Production chronicling the reigning “National League Manager of the Year’s” recent return to his beloved hometown of Hazleton, PA.  Going Home: Joe Maddon premieres Thursday, January 14 at 9:30 PM CT exclusively on Comcast SportsNet, immediately following “Blackhawks Postgame Live.”  CSN will also re-air this documentary special on Friday, January 15 at 9:30 PM, which coincides with the opening night of the 2016 Cubs Convention, and again on Monday, January 18 at 9:00 PM.  NOTE: This will be the first of two Going Home documentary specials CSN will be providing viewers in January with the second focusing on Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu’s first trip back to his home country of Cuba since he defected back in August of 2013.  Details on this special will be coming soon.

Produced and edited by Comcast SportsNet’s multiple Emmy award-winning Executive Producer of Original Content Sarah Lauch, Going Home: Joe Maddon takes an in-depth look at Maddon’s return to his hometown of Hazleton, PA, as he takes viewers on a car tour around town, showcasing his home and neighborhood where he grew up, his favorite hangouts, the ball field which now bears his name, to even the luncheonette where his mother “Beanie” still works to this day.  The centerpiece of Going Home: Joe Maddon is his visit to the Hazleton One Community Center (hazletonintegrationproject.com/), where he is the honorary chairman of the center’s foundation, The Hazleton Integration Project (HIP).  The mission of HIP is to provide a physical environment within the city of Hazleton, conducive to creating opportunities for economically-challenged children to participate in a variety of no-cost or low-cost education, cultural, and athletic activities for the purpose of engaging children in wholesome activities, while fostering trust and respect among all ethnic cultures.  CSN’s exclusive coverage of Maddon at the Hazleton One Community Center truly showcases the commitment of a man who will continue to do anything for the growth and prosperity of the hometown that he holds so dearly to his heart.

“Joe Maddon has quickly solidified himself as an icon in the city of Chicago,” said Kevin Cross, Senior Director of News & Original Content for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.  “Sarah and our crew have put together something very special for our viewers as we get to learn about Joe’s past and why his love of his hometown of Hazleton is most assuredly equal to his love of baseball.”

In addition to the exclusive, up close and personal interviews with Maddon, Going Home also includes interviews with numerous individuals close to Maddon’s life including his wife Jaye Maddon,his mother Albina Beanie” Maddon, his sister Carmine Parlatore, his cousins Tina and David Mishinski, President of the Hazleton Integration Project Bob Curry,who also happens to be married to Joe’s cousin, and longtime friend/MLB pitching great Rick Sutcliffe among others.      

CSNChicago.com Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney also accompanied the Comcast SportsNet crew for Maddon’s visit back to Hazleton and viewers can look forward to his upcoming feature stories and additional insight about Maddon’s personal life, along with his thoughts on the upcoming 2016 MLB season, beginning Tuesday, January 14 exclusively on CSNChicago.com/Cubs. Plus, CSNChicago.com will also provide additional “web-exclusive” content from Going Home immediately following its on-air debut airing.

Please note the following quotes from the Comcast SportsNet Original Production of Going Home: Joe Maddon presented by Binny’s Beverage Depot,debuting Thursday, January 14 at 9:30 PM CT:

JOE MADDON on Hazleton, PA: “This is my hometown and when I was a kid growing up here, without question, was the best place for any kid to grow up…whether you are talking about family, friends, activities, just pure joy.  I came back in 2010 for Christmas and there was all this proliferation, there were more Hispanics in town, lots of tension, and the people that had been here before, no one got each other.  It was a really bad moment.  The town was dark and the kids had nothing to do and they were getting in trouble. The goal now is to get the pendulum to swing back to where it had been.  Jaye (Maddon) said how about HIP “Hazleton Integration Project” and I said ‘Boom…that is perfect!’  We wanted to get a center.  We created a board and now we have this facility, we have after school programs, we have athletic programs, and we have cultural programs. Whatever the community needs, we want to be here.”

JOE MADDON on comparing Hazleton to Chicago: “A microcosm of Hazleton vs. Chicago, the ethnic backgrounds of the people, hardworking, family-oriented.  There are all these similarities and, when I talk to the people of Chicago, I feel like I have known them a long time, so there is no break in period.”

JOE MADDON on how his early years in life shaped how he is a manager today: “I had every job there was in the minor leagues, except pitching coach.  That is how you become who you are.  You think I do crazy things, you think I think outside the box?  Because I could try different things in Midland or in Salem or in Idaho Falls or in the back fields at Gene Autry Park in Mesa, AZ.  I mean five-man infields whatever you want to do…done it, back then. So, all these things I do now are rooted because I had free reign to make mistakes back then when no one can see them and that is how you get to this point.”

JAYE MADDON on her first meeting with Cubs President, Baseball Operations Theo Epstein & Executive VP/GM Jed Hoyer:  “They brought a Pinot Noir and, at the time, if I drank red wine at all, I would drink Pinot Noir.  So they bring this bottle of wine in a brown paper bag and it was all very casual.  We just sat at the beach and talked and it wasn’t necessarily all about baseball.  I think they knew before that their visions aligned and that their philosophies aligned a lot, but I think this was just ‘let’s just verify this.”

CARMINE PARLATORE (Joe’s sister) on Joe Maddon: “He (my dad) always felt like Joe was going to make it big, somehow, some way, in MLB.  I know getting to where he is now was not easy, it was tough, a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice on his kids and his grandkids.  They don’t get to see him a lot.  We don’t get to see him a lot anymore.  When he comes home he is Joey, not Joe, he is Joey and we have a blast.”

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

Bears notes: Was Trey Burton’s penalty justified?

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — In a game full of pivotal moments, one seemed to irk the Bears in particular following Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.

Driving on the Dolphins three-yard line, the Bears lined up in a T formation with Jordan Howard, Trey Burton and Tarik Cohen lined up left to right in the backfield behind Mitch Trubisky, who was under center. Burton motioned out of the backfield and to the right, and ran his route into linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Trubisky threw a short pass to a wide open Cohen for a touchdown, with Alonso late getting to the running back after being hit by Burton. But that score was taken off the board for offensive pass interference, with officials ruling what Burton did amounted to an illegal pick play.

“Trey did everything I asked him to do,” Matt Nagy said, sharply.

On the next play, Trubisky forced a pass into double coverage in the end zone, which was easily picked off by Dolphins safety T.J. McDonald. Miami turned that interception into eight points on Albert Wilson’s 43-yard touchdown and an ensuing two-point conversion.

The way Burton understood the rule was that offensive pass interference was only assessed on a pick play if he intentionally ran into a defender without running a true route. That’s what Burton felt he did; the officiating crew disagreed.

“I thought I ran a route and the guy ran into me,” Burton said. “I thought they changed the rule this year or last year — if you run the route, it doesn’t matter if you pick the guy or not, you’re good. Obviously they called it.”

A Rough Return

The conversations surrounding the Bears Sunday into Monday would be awfully different had a number of things happened — Trubisky doesn’t throw that interception, the Bears’ defense gets a stop, Tarik Cohen doesn’t fumble near midfield, etc. In that same group: If Cody Parkey hits what would’ve been a game-winning 53-yard field goal in overtime.

Parkey, instead, missed that kick wide right. His career long is 54 yards, which he hit last year while with the Miami Dolphins (and that was a game-winner with about a minute left against the Los Angeles Chargers).

“I had the distance, I just didn’t kick it straight enough, bottom line,” Parkey said. “But you’ve got to move on. I’ve made game winners, I’ve missed game winners. As long as I keep playing, I’m just going to keep trying to kick my best.

“… I control what I can control, and unfortunately I missed a field goal. I’d like to have that one back, but it is what it is and I’m just going to focus on the next game. That’s all I can do.”

For an improving Bears offense vs. Dolphins, a day of maddening extremes

For an improving Bears offense vs. Dolphins, a day of maddening extremes

Their points production in the 31-28 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday marked the fourth time in five games under coach Matt Nagy that the Bears have scored 23 or more points. All of the 28 were heaped on the Dolphins by the offense, which churned for 467 yards one game after amassing 483 and 48 points against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But the Bears did in fact lose, and not all of the reasons can be laid at the feet of the defense. Not nearly all of them.

In great position to put the game virtually out of reach for the struggling Dolphins, the Bears offense failed. The yardage total gave the Bears consecutive 400-yard games for the first time since games 14-15 in 2016, and well could have represented a statement that the offense of Nagy and coordinator Mark Helfrich was indeed hitting a potent stride.

It may be. But a combination of troubling factors gave Sunday’s output a hollow ring.

Against the Dolphins, 149 of the yards came on possessions ending in turnovers, including an interception thrown by quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and fumble by running back Jordan Howard both occurring in the red zone with points well within reach.

The offense hurt itself with a handful of pre-snap penalties, and the overarching sense is that the belief in Nagy and the overall offense is growing amid mistakes that clearly rest with players themselves.

“For sure, 100 percent trust in Coach Nagy and what he believes is best for this team,” Trubisky said. “What he believes is what I believe is best for this team. Whatever he calls, we're going to run it to the best of our ability. We put ourselves in a great chance, and I have faith in our guys that next time we get the opportunity we make it.”

Opportunities taken and opportunities missed

For Trubisky, the linchpin of the evolving offense, it was a day of extremes.

His production (316 yards) gave him consecutive 300-yard games for the first time in his 17-game career. His passer rating (122.5) was the seond-highest of his career, behind only the stratospheric 154.6 of the Tampa Bay game. His three TD passes are second only to his six against the Buccaneers. Trubisky’s yardage outputs this season are pointing in a decidedly upward arc: 171 at Green Bay, followed by 200-220-354-316.

But decision-making proved costly at tipping points against the Dolphins. From the Miami 13 with a 21-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, and holding a chance to create potentially decisive breathing room on the scoreboard, Trubisky forced a throw toward tight end Ben Braunecker, who was double-covered in the Miami end zone. The ball was intercepted by safety T.J. McDonald, and the Dolphins went from the touchback to a touchdown and subsequent game-tying two-point conversion.

“I just thought the safety went with the ‘over’ route,” Trubisky said. “He made a good play. I lost him when I was stepping up [in the pocket], and I forced one in the red zone when I shouldn't have… . I forced it and I put my team in a bad position, and I shouldn't have thrown that pass.”

The second-year quarterback started poorly, with an overthrow of a wide-open Anthony Miller on the third play from scrimmage, resulting in a three-and-out and a concerning start for what would be only scoreless Bears first half this season. A failed fourth-and-2 conversion gave Miami the football at its 41 later in the quarter.

Trubisky badly overthrew an open Miller in the second quarter, creating a third-and-long on which the Dolphins broke down his protection for a second sack in the span of just 11 plays. After a 47-yard completion to Taylor Gabriel, Trubisky threw an checkdown pass nowhere near running back Jordan Howard.

Fatigue factor overlooked?

Running back Tarik Cohen totaled 121 yards for the second straight game and the second time in his career. For the second straight week Cohen led or co-led the Bears with seven pass receptions.

But the last of the seven came with a disastrous finish. Cohen was hit by Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso after taking a swing pass and picking up 11 yards, fumbled and had the ball recovered by cornerback Xavien Howard at the Chicago 45. The defense did manage a stop, leading to the overtime, but the result was devastating.

“Personally for me, it’s [frustrating] because I know I took my team out of position to win the game late in the ball game,’ Cohen said. “So personally, that’s frustrating for me… . I feel like I had an opportunity to get ourselves down in scoring position. I let fatigue get the best of me, and I forgot about the fundamentals.”

That Cohen mentioned “fatigue” is perhaps noteworthy. A question was raised to Helfrich last week as to whether there was an optimal or max number of snaps for the diminutive Cohen, who had five carries and was targeted nine times – not including one punt return and plays on which he ran pass routes but was not thrown to in the south Florida heat.

“It was hot,” said defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. “It was hot out there.”

Weapons rising

Last offseason and millions in contracts were spent upgrading offensive weaponry. The investments produced in Miami.

Touchdown passes were caught by wide receivers Anthony Miller (drafted) and Allen Robinson (free agent) plus tight end Trey Burton (free agent). Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (free agent) caught the five passes thrown to him for a team-high 110 yards, his second straight 100-yard game after none in his previous four NFL seasons.

Five different players posted plays of 20 yards or longer, including pass plays of 54 and 47 yards by Gabriel and a run of 21 yards and reception of 59 yards by Cohen.

Uncharacteristically for the normally fast-starting Bears offense, the group followed the scoreless first half with 21 points in the third quarter and 343 yards of combined offense in the second half and overtime.

“We came out with more energy and had the attitude that we were going to go down and score the ball,” Trubisky said, “and we played a lot better the second half.”