Bears

Fire look to end struggles against sliding Colorado

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Fire look to end struggles against sliding Colorado

Friday, April 29, 2011Posted: 6:56 p.m.

By Dieter Kurtenbach
CSNChicago.com

These are desperate times for the Chicago Fire. And desperate times draw other desperate teams.

Saturdays matchup against the Colorado Rapids will bring together two teams in the pits of tough stretches. Colorado, loser of three straight games, is eager to prove that it still has the form of an MLS Cup winner. The Fire, winless in its last four games, are looking to show that its hot start to the season was not a mirage.

We need it both teams. Chicago Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said in a rare blunt statement after training Thursday.

The Fire has already beaten the Rapids in 2011 with a 2-1 U.S. Open Cup win in Peoria. But with Chicago using mostly first-team players and Colorado not dressing their top squad in the loss, Fire defender Dasan Robinson doesnt read too much into the teams previous matchup.

You cant take too much from the Open Cup game, Robinson said. Maybe they have a little something against us because we won that game... You have to know in knowing its going to be a fight. Theyre the defending champions, for them to lose three in a row, its kind of like oh, whats going on.

The lineups will likely be different again on Saturday. Both teams have been rattled by injuries and have struggled to create winning lineups in the absence of key players.

The Fire will be without captain Logan Pause and veteran defender Cory Gibbs on Saturday. Colorado is hoping that forward Conor Casey, who is questionable for the game with a left hamstring sprain, will be able to go, reuniting one of the top striking duos in MLS.

Caseys regular partner in crime, Omar Cummings, has struggled without Casey in the lineup, going goalless in his past three games, all Colorado losses. Chicago is hoping that Casey remains out of the lineup, as it would only help Cummings, who has five career goals in four games against the Fire.

I dont think its a matter of trying to shut them down, its a matter of kind of containing Cummings and Casey, Robinson said. You know what theyre capable of, you know what their strengths are. You just have to do your best to try to limit those chances that they get. We know what were strong at.

Despite the lack of positive results, morale is high amongst the Fire, who ended its final training session with a penalty shootout in the mud. De los Cobos said that he is trying to keep a positive attitude in the locker room, but hes not putting as much focus on spirit with the winless streak.

The attitude is not everything in life, de los Cobos said. Attitude is part of this is. Sure, we need to have a very good attitude its important, but its not all. You need to want, and you need to can do it.

The Fire will find out if they have that can on Saturday. First kick in Commerce City, Colorado is set for 8 p.m. Central.

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: