Preps Talk

Lions are a messand they know it

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Lions are a messand they know it

DETROIT -- The Bears held on to defeat the Lions 26-24 at Ford Field, but didnt get the help they needed from the Packers -- who lost to the Vikings -- and will not make the playoffs. While the city of Chicago searches for answers, the people of Detroit also are left wondering how the Lions went from a 10-6 playoff team in 2011 to a 4-12 mess just a year later.
Its tough, Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. You feel like you were turning the corner as a franchise and for the people and for the city and the fans. Its frustrating to let down the guys in the locker room, but for me its more frustrating to let down the fans.
Lions guard Rob Sims couldnt wrap his head around his team's eight-game losing streak.
It does blow my mind, Sims told CSNChicago.com. Matthew Stafford was missing a lot of his weapons for a good part of that time. We couldnt fix it.
It seemed like the pile of Detroit losses was just starting to sink in for defensive end Cliff Avril.
Thats crazy, Avril said. To not have a won a game in two months is tough."
In Week 9, both the Lions and Bears had their biggest blowout wins of the year. Chicago crushed Tennessee by 31 to move to 7-1, while Detroit throttled Jacksonville by 17 , pushing their record to 4-4. The Bears would lose five of their next six games before getting things back on track with back-to-back wins to close out the regular season. The Lions, on the other hand, lost eight straight to finish a dismal 4-12.
In the end the Lions and the Bears just werent good enough this season. Whether a 10-win team that failed to make the playoffs or a four-win team that failed to make the playoffs, you are still on the outside looking in.
Is Schwartz the right fit in Detroit?
My opinion, Jim Schwartz is a real good mixture of being a smart coach and an emotional coach, Vanden Bosch said. I think he understands what players need and this year, for whatever reason, as a group we didnt respond the way we needed to.
There were conflicting job security reports on Schwartz prior to Sundays loss to the Bears, but afterwards his players seemed to still believe he was the right guy to lead them out of their recent slumber.
I think hes a great coach, Sims said. Hes an improving coach, I think well all band together. Once in a while you can hit a bump in the road.
Lions wide receiver Brian Robiskie, who had two catches for 30 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, summed everything up.
Last year we were in it, this year didnt go our way, he told CSNChicago.com. We know we have the pieces to make things work, we just have to get it turned around and get it going.
Melton is no clown to all Lions
Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team earlier in the week and took some criticism from Lions center Dominic Raiola. While Raiola did not speak on the record following Sundays loss, one of his teammates on the offensive line chimed in.
I wouldnt say Melton is spectacular, but hes an emerging player, Sims told CSNChicago.com. I think what he gets he deserves. In the beginning of the week he was running his mouth a little bit too much and we didnt like that.
Better luck next year
So what does Avril think about the Packers and Vikings being at the top of the division and in the playoff discussion, while Detroit is not?
I dont care about them, Avril said. I want to win. I want to get to be one of those teams. It sucks that we werent a part of it.
I think thats something all fans of non-playoff teams, in the Motor City or the Windy City, can agree on.

34 Days to Kickoff: Bartlett

34 Days to Kickoff: Bartlett

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: Bartlett


Head coach: Mark Erlenbaugh


How they fared in 2017: 2-7 (2-3 Upstate 8 Valley Conference), Bartlett failed to qualify for the 20127 IHSA state football playoff field.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 25 @ East Aurora
Aug. 31 vs Glenbard East
Sept 8 vs Glenbard South
Sept. 14 @ Elgin
Sept. 21 @ West Aurora
Sept. 28 vs West Chicago
Oct. 5 vs Larkin
Oct. 13 @ South Elgin 
Oct. 19 @ Streamwood


Biggest storyline: Can the Hawks soar in the newly realigned Upstate 8 conference?


Names to watch this season: QB Dean Kotsovetis WR Austin Gates


Biggest holes to fill: The Hawks will need to fill in several spots this summer especially upfront on the offensive and defensive lines due to graduation losses.


EDGY's Early Take: Bartlett new head coach Matt Erlenbaugh comes in from Chicago Solorio and takes over the Hawks football program. Look for Bartlett to have a chance to challenge in the newly realigned Upstate 8 schedule. The Hawks schedule this season won't include the likes of several 2017 state playoff teams like Lemont, Prairie Ridge and St. Charles East.

Anthony Rizzo is ready to be the leading man 

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USA TODAY

Anthony Rizzo is ready to be the leading man 

When discussing his unconventional lineup choices, Joe Maddon had this to say, "It's almost a backwards way of doing this right now that I'm finding fascinating.....So I'm just gonna let it play for just a little bit and see where it takes us."

And it is hard to blame Maddon for letting his experiment ride out longer.

Via our Chris Kamka, Rizzo has hit in the leadoff spot seven times this season. In those seven plate appearances he has a single, double, triple (July 21), home run, walk, hit by pitch and a groundout. Rizzo’s numbers as a leadoff hitter are staggering:

And it appears the Cubs agree.

After their 7-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday, Ben Zobrist joked that Rizzo is the “self proclaimed greatest leadoff hitter...”. And while on paper, having Zobrist bat fourth in the order and Rizzo lead off seems contradictory, the move has definitely energized the offense. Immediately following all the lineup shuffling, the Cubs reeled off four straight wins before the Cardinals 18-run, 18-hit explosion, but even in that game Rizzo did draw a base by HBP.

And sure enough, in Saturday’s game, there was Rizzo, dominating to the tune of three walks and a triple. There is no telling if Maddon will continue to keep him in the leadoff spot. The move was originally made to help Rizzo get his groove back, which if Saturday’s win was any indication, he has.

But with Jason Heyward having a great offensive season, Jesse Chavez looking good in his Cubs debut (two clean innings with one strikeout) and Baez continuing his MVP-like play, Cubs fans should be as optimistic as one certain fan at Wrigley Field.