Cubs

Jeffery not placing the blame on refs

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Jeffery not placing the blame on refs

Alshon Jeffery said it over and over again after Sundays loss, how this is a physical game and he has to play accordingly.

Unfortunately on Sunday, Jeffery got penalized over and over for that physical play.

Jeffery was whistled for three offensive pass interferences, including one in the end zone, in the Chicago Bears 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. It was a tough day for the rookie wide receiver, who was the Bears second-round pick (13th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft. But Jeffery didnt think there was anything technically wrong with how he played.

I have to play physical. Thats the way the game is played, right? he said. My mindset going into the game is make the plays receivers making plays and stepping up. We knew they were going to try to be physical. We just tried to come and make plays.

At least one of those was questionable. And Jeffery got away with one early in the game when he grabbed Sam Shields by the facemask. But as far as the calls on him, Jeffery wasnt going to blame the officials.

Im going to have to go back and check the film and see, he said. Im not going to put it all on their side.

Packers cornerback Shields agreed with all of them.

It was perfect. It's hard to get them called. We got them and they gave us some good time to get off the field, he said.

Teammate Tramon Williams agreed.

Its unheard of, but its correct, he said. Hopefully we get more refs to do that.

Coach Lovie Smith said hes never seen three in a game before.

When you look at our history, we havent gotten a lot of them. So all of them were really big plays, he said. Normally you get a call that goes your way, but we had a lot of opportunities and thats how the officials saw it.

Two were very big. The first nullified a 1-yard touchdown pass. The second, with the Bears trailing 21-13, nixed a potential 36-yard reception with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

Quarterback Jay Cutler wasnt getting into the what-waswasnt-a-penalty discussion.

I dont think anyone wants to get fined, first of all. Secondly, thats not what lost us the game, he said.

But a few minutes later, Cutler was asked if veteran receivers can get away with more than young guys like Jeffery.

Bump and run and press they let him play early on and then started calling it later. I dont know for what reason. Alshons a big receiver and whenever he bumps a guy the guys going to move, Cutler said. Im at a loss for this question. Youre baiting me into things and Im not going to fall for it.

Jeffery had a tough day. He plays a physical game, and hes not planning on changing that anytime soon.

Thats the way the game is played, he said.

Albert Almora Jr. gave another example of his all-around game

Albert Almora Jr. gave another example of his all-around game

Albert Almora Jr. might be in the middle of a breakout season. The 24-year-old outfielder continues to show his impressive range in center field and is having his best year at the plate.

In Sunday's 8-3 win against the Giants, Almora had three hits and showed off his wheels in center to rob Evan Longoria of extra bases. The catch is visible in the video above.

"Defensively, right now he's playing as well as he possibly can," Maddon said.

On top of the defense he has become known for, he is hitting .326. That's good for fifth in the National League in batting.

"He's playing absolutely great," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's working good at-bats. His at-bats have gotten better vs. righties.

"The thing about it, is there's power there. The home runs are gonna start showing up, too."

There's also this stat, which implies Almora is having a growing significance on the Cubs as a whole:

There may be some correlation, but not causality in that. However, with Almora's center field play and growing accolades at the plate, the argument is becoming easier and easier that he is one of the most important players on the Cubs. That also goes for Almora's regular spot in the lineup, which has been up in the air with Maddon continuing to juggle the lineup.

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”