Bulls

Miller: Last night was embarrassing

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Miller: Last night was embarrassing

Everyone is going to hammer the Chicago Bears after last nights embarrassing performance while losing to the San Francisco 49ers, 32-7. There really wasnt much to cheer about in terms of effort, execution, and heart.

Not all Bears players lack the want to in the heart department, but the few that do forget its all broadcasted for everyone to see. As disappointing as last night was, there are some very painful realizations of who the Bears are and where they need to go. Here would be the three most glaring realizations:

Jay Cutler

No one can question his toughness, drive, or demeanor moving forward. Without Cutler, the Bears lacked the edginess of accountability this offense apparently desperately needs. Cutlers methods may be unorthodox and at times not professional or pleasing, but his desire to win, ownership in his team, and his emotions was sorely missed.

Offensive Line

I think it's clear that the Bears cannot play from behind, and its ironic losing to the 49ers because they cant pass protect either. Here are the offensive lines who have given up the most sacks in 2012, including the six sacks the Bears gave up last night:

Arizona Cardinals: 44

Chicago Bears: 34

Philadelphia Eagles: 33

Green Bay Packers: 32

San Francisco 49ers: 31

San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh may elect to start Colin Kaepernick moving forward because of his athleticism to avoid sacks, but their formula to win is no different than the Bears'. They want to get a lead, play good defense, and run the football.

As embarrassing as last night was from a pass protection standpoint, right tackle Gabe Carimi was drafted to run the football. Its what he did in college at Wisconsin where he played left tackle, but almost every scout had him moving to right tackle in the NFL because he could run blocks and know his assignments.

Just looking at the Bears' most recent history of where the offensive line has struggled most, reflects when they play a dominant front four defensive line. They have a difficult time when other players like tight ends or backs cannot always be committed to giving every guy help upfront who is outmanned.

Everyone remembers the 10-sack performance against the Giants in Metlife Stadium two years ago, but outings against the Packers this year (seven sacks), and when Jay Cutler worked magic against the Lions front four at Ford Field under former offensive coordinator Mike Martz stick out the most. This is Lovie Smiths chosen path philosophically and why the Bears currently have who they have on the roster.

The key to this is that the Bears must play with a lead or keep games close for this philosophy to be utilized.

Heavy sets give Bears' defense problems

Unless the Bears play with a lead to take an opponent out of these sets, they will continue to see heavy sets.

Heavy sets are two tight end sets, or in last night's case, the 49ers used 350 pound tackle Leonard Davis as a third tight end to run the football. Ive said it numerous times; heavy sets are the blue print to beating the Tampa-2 defense. Its how the Bears beat Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffen, and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli twice in one season in 2001.

Some consider those defenses with defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Derrick Brooks, defensive end Simeon Rice, safety John Lynch, and cornerback Ronde Barbert. Heavy sets destroyed them; much like the Bears got destroyed with it last night.

Carlos Boozer says Nate Robinson was one of his favorite teammate because 'he would bring snacks to every flight'

Carlos Boozer says Nate Robinson was one of his favorite teammate because 'he would bring snacks to every flight'

Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson only played one season together with the Bulls. But oh, what a memorable campaign it was.

And it produced a friendship that still lasts to this day. Cupcakes and snacks will do just that.

Boozer retold a story to NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday of Robinson and his daughter, Navyi, baking cupcakes for Bulls players on road trips.

"We had so much fun. Me and Nate hit it off right away," Boozer said. "We're both very animated, we're both very loud, we talk a lot, we're great teammates. We love playing passionately, we compete.

"Nate is one of the best teammates I ever had. I played my whole life, I've been playing a long time and he's the only teammate that would bring snacks to every flight. And we'd travel on the road, he would bake us cupcakes for every road game. I never had that before.

"Him and his daughter, Navyi, would bake the cupcakes before every road game. So every road game we'd get to the plane and Nate would hook us up with cupcakes.

"Just a great teammate. He'd go through a brick wall for you, never complained, practice every day, play every day, ready to come and give it his best."

Boozer and Robinson will face off against each other during the Big3 Tournament, which begins this weekend in Houston. The league will travel to Chicago and the United Center on June 29.

"I'm looking forward to being in Chicago," Boozer said. "We've got a lot of great fans out there. I miss the (United Center), miss that Chicagotime summer weather and looking forward to getting back out there in a couple weeks."

Boozer's Ghost Ballers and Robinson's Tri-State team won't square off against one another until Week 5 in Miami. But it's sure to be a fun matchup for the two friends and snack buddies.

"He's one of my brothers, one of my closest friends," Boozer said. "Nate has been training like an animal and he's gonna use this platform to show everybody how much skills he has, also to get back into the NBA. Nate's a great talent and I'm looking forward to seeing him get down."

Boozer's team includes co-captains Mike Bibby and Ricky Davis, which gives them a pretty solid trio heading into the event. But no teammate, NBA or Big3, can match Nate Rob and his cupcakes.

Check out more on the Big3 right here.

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

Why what Mike Montgomery did against LA could go a long way toward keeping him in the Cubs' rotation

Joe Maddon needed Mike Montgomery to get through at least six innings given the circumstances presenting the Cubs' manager before Game 2 of Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Not only were the Cubs short a man in the bullpen (thanks to Brandon Morrow’s pants-related back injury), but Maddon had to use four relievers — including Pedro Strop for two innings — after Tyler Chatwood managed only five innings in Game 1 earlier in the afternoon. 

So when Montgomery — who had only thrown over 100 pitches once in the last two and a half seasons before Tuesday — saw his pitch count sit at 40 after two innings, and then 63 after three, he knew he needed to regroup to avoid creating a mess for the Cubs’ bullpen. 

What followed was a start that, statistically, wasn’t the most impressive of the five Montgomery’s made since re-joining the Cubs’ rotation earlier this year. But it was an important start in that the 28-year-old left-hander didn’t have his best stuff, yet didn’t give in to a good Dodgers lineup. And holding that bunch to one run over six innings was exactly what the Cubs needed in what turned out to be a 2-1 extra-inning win. 

“Especially when you don’t have have your best stuff, you always gotta — that’s when you really learn how to pitch,” Montgomery said. 

It’s also the kind of start that could be a major point in Montgomery’s favor when Maddon is presented with a decision to make on his starting rotation whenever Yu Darvish comes off the disabled list. Knowing that Montgomery can grind his way through six innings when his team needs it the most without his best stuff only can add to the confidence the Cubs have in him. 

Montgomery didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday, issuing more walks (four) than he had in his previous four starts (three). He threw 48 pitches between the second and third innings, and only 25 of those pitches were strikes. Of the nine times the Dodgers reached base against Montgomery, six were the result of fastballs either leading to a walk or a hit. 

Even though the Dodgers were able to bother Montgomery a bit on his fastball, Maddon said that’s the pitch of his that’s impressed him the most over the last few weeks. 

“He never got rushed,” Maddon said. “In the past he would seem to get rushed when things weren’t going well, when he spot-started. Overall, fastball command is better — even though he was off a little bit tonight, the fastball command still exceeds what I’ve seen in the past couple of years on a more consistent basis. The changeup, really, good pitch. He got out of some jams but I think the fact that he knows where his fastball is going now is the difference-maker for him.”

Darvish will throw a simulated game on Wednesday after throwing two bullpen sessions last week. Maddon still doesn’t have a timetable for the $126 million right-hander’s return, and said he’s not entertaining what to do with his rotation until Darvish comes off the disabled list. But Maddon did mention Montgomery’s relative lack of an innings load — the most he’s thrown in a season in 130 2/3, which he did in 2017 — as a reason to perhaps not rush him into a permanent starting role the rest of the season. Going to a six-man rotation is a possibility, too, Maddon said. 

But the over-arching point is this: Montgomery will remain in the Cubs’ rotation as long as he keeps earning it. That can be the product of strong outings in which he has good stuff, or games like Tuesday in which he shows the Cubs the kind of resiliency most starters need to get through a full season. 

“I pitch well, good things happen,” Montgomery said. “I’ve always thought that. Opportunities, you just gotta make the most of them.”