White Sox

Home-field nightmare: Bears D lets Wilson, Seahawks get away

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Home-field nightmare: Bears D lets Wilson, Seahawks get away

The Bears had the Seattle Seahawks twice exactly where they generally will say they want any opponent: in Soldier Field, a long way from the Chicago end zone and needing a touchdown to win.
The trouble on Sunday was that it was the Seattle that had the Bears exactly where they wanted them.
Down 14-10 when they got the ball with 3 minutes to play, the Seahawks proceeded to drive 107 (with a 10-yard penalty they had to re-take ground previously captured) yards on their last possession of regulation, and 85 (Seattle tried to help with a delay of game penalty) yards on their first possession of overtime. They posted six first downs on each of those drives, converting four of six third downs against a defense that was fatigued by its own inability to get a defensive stop.
Seattle put 459 yards on the Bears, the most by any opponent this season. The Bears were allowing 307 per game coming in. Worse, the Seahawks scored all four times they got into the Chicago red zone, three times for touchdowns. Seattle put together three touchdown drives of 80 yards or longer.
The defense came away its 34th takeaway when Brian Urlacher forced the ball out of Marshawn Lynchs hands and into Kelvin Haydens. That was the end of takeaways and in the end, with the Bears unable to get off the field and allowing Seattle five possessions of eight or more plays.
DEFENSIVE LINE F
Russell Wilsons mobility was a nightmare for the Bears front four, which was clearly winded by mid-fourth quarter. Julius Peppers bull-rushed guard James Carpenter (a 2011 No. 1 pick at tackle now starting at guard, like Gabe Carimi) for a sack of Russell Wilson on the first series. Stephen Paea added to rebuilding momentum in the third quarter with a sack.
Shea McClellin pressured Wilson into a number of throwaways, keeping containment. The Bears used the rookie in spots to spy Wilson with his speed.
But in a game where containment was the first order of defense, the Bears lost theirs too often and with the game on the line. No defensive lineman other than Peppers and Paea has so much as one quarterback hit in more than 34 minutes and 39 pass plays, not including ones that started as passes but turned into runs by Wilson.
LINEBACKERS D-
Brian Urlacher popped the ball away from Marshawn Lynch on Seattles first drive, and the offense turned that into a TD. Urlacher was credited with eight solo tackles.
But Lynch finished with 4.6 yards per carry (19-87-1) and too many of Wilsons runs were into wide-open spaces without linebacker pursuit. Seattle netted 5.5 yards per carry with Wilsons 71 yards on nine carries.
Nick Roach had five solo tackles and Lance Briggs added five as well, one for a loss. But like the defensive line, the linebackers did not close down running lanes too often and were generally invisible in pass coverage.
SECONDARY D-
Tim Jennings, who injured his shoulder on a hit of running back Michael Robinson in overtime, was handled by Golden Tate for a 49-yard completion in the second quarter to set up a tying first-half touchdown.
Major Wright had a chance for a game-ending interception but had it broken up by Sidney Rice. The Seahawks then continued what was a go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.
Charles Tillman had a team-high nine tackles, eight of them solo, broke up two passes and forced a fumble that Seattle recovered.
But Wilson completed passes to eight different receivers, five of whom had catches of 11 yards or longer. Wilson completed 23 of 37 passes for 293 yards, two touchdowns and a rating of 104.9.
COACHING D
Schemes are only as good as the players executing them and the Bears had no answer for the combined running-passing of Russell Wilson. Coaches began assigning a spy (Shea McClellin) to Wilson in the second half but even that only was so effective when poor angles, containment and pressure were supplemented by poor tackling.
Coaches also used extensive substitutions on the line trying to keep players fresh for the fourth quarter against Wilson but it mattered little in the end.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Special teams saved the Bears in regulation but had few chances to do much else through the remainder of the game.
KICKING A
Robbie Goulds 46-yarder as time expired in regulation was a game-saver. For a few minutes, anyhow. Gould took elite returner Leon Washington out of the game with touchbacks on all four of his kickoffs.
Adam Podlesh had another strong game with a 41.4-yard average on five punts, three inside the 20 and two returned a total of one yard.
COVERAGE A
Zackary Bowman created a 97-yard field for Seattle by saving a touchback to Sherrick McManis inside 4 minutes to play. The defense wasted it by failing to stop the Seahawks from point through the of the game but the play was potentially a difference-maker. Bowman and McManis also added a tackle each.
RETURNS C
Eric Weems netted zero on one punt return and averaged 21.7 yards on three kick returns. He attempted to create something on the final kickoff in regulation but only used time and lost six yards (from where a touchback would've given the Bears the ball).
COACHING A
Seattle was not given many chances to create on special teams. None of Seattles 10 possessions started in the Chicago end and eight of the 10 started at the Seattle 20 or worse.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O'Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we'll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Jacobs

Head coach: Bill Mitz

Assistant coaches: Bubba Smith, Mike Warren, Brian Zimmerman, JM Foote, Ryan Arndt and Bob Mackey

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (5-3 Fox Valley Conference). Jacobs made the Class 7A playoff field. The Golden Eagles lost to Lincoln-Way West in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 Hampshire 

Aug. 31 @ Huntley 

Sept. 7 Dundee-Crown 

Sept. 14 @ McHenry 

Sept. 21 Neuqua Valley 

Sept. 28 Prairie Ridge 

Oct. 5 @ Cary-Grove 

Oct. 12 Crystal Lake South 

Oct. 19 @ Crystal Lake Central

Biggest storyline: Can the Golden Eagles move up in the Fox Valley Conference pecking order in 2018?

Names to watch this season: OT Joacheim Price and OL Nick Zonta

Biggest holes to fill: The Golden Eagles will need to replace its entire starting linebacker group from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Year in and year out, Jacobs is always a factor in the rugged Fox Valley Conference (seven playoff appearances in the last eight years). The Golden Eagles return some starters in several key spots. If the underclassmen group can step up this summer, look for Jacobs to challenge for the FVC conference title and a higher seed in 7A come IHSA playoff time.