Blackhawks

Moon's Mailbag: Evaluating the 2011 defense

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Moon's Mailbag: Evaluating the 2011 defense

Each week until the end of the season, Bears Insider John 'Moon' Mullin will be answering questions from fans. Submit your questions on Twitter and check back on CSNChicago.com to see if your question gets a response.

Here are this week's questions:

From Aube2010:

Moon - What will the Bears do when Marshall is taken away by other team's defenses?

Two thoughts here. One is that Marshall doesn't get completely taken away very often. That's why he's had five straight 1,000-yard seasons and no fewer than 81 catches in those years, when he was the focus of defenses. The second is that it's impossible to take away ALL weapons in a good offense (unless you are rushing with the Steel Curtain). The Bears' most consistent receiving threat the past four years has actually been Matt Forte, and three of those were with Jay Cutler, so No. 6 is more than comfortable going to his franchise back, who is also a good bet to get back on top of 1,000 rushing yards. The drafting of Alshon Jeffery was a statement on top of Marshall as well.

The whole point of this offseason was to diversify as well as upgrade offensive firepower. Someone will shut Marshall down for a time; the Bears finally have more than one arrow in the quiver.

From KevinMcDonough5:

@MattBowen41 Will Marinelli deviate from the traditional Tampa 2? Will this offense expose how easy it is to exploit this scheme?

I'll cover for Matt. The fact is that the Bears were in true Cover-2 about one-third of the time last season. And I was watching practice with Matt and he was noting some specific attack points against the Cover-2. Every defense has pressure points; watch a Green Bay game, opening drive, and you'll more than see.

From @dsetwitt:

@CSNMoonMullin What's wrong with Carimi? Break yesterday makes sense. Break today means injury or demotioncompetition?

There's really nothing wrong with 72, more a matter of being supremely sensible about mixing rest with exertion. There is no demotion there, believe me, no is there true 'competition.' There's simply no point in pushing him until there actually is a problem. He's really looked very good, body fat down significantly and better quickness than even last year.

From @freak_44:
@CSNMoonMullin How does Roach look at mike back?

Roach always look the same there, very solid, and even more so now that he's another year in the system. I talked with Nick at some length about where he is now as the Mike, since it wasn't an instant success '09, for various reasons. He's a different player than he was then and I've always thought that if contract situations are managed smartly, you're looking at the real successor to Brian Urlacher.

From @helen goerne:
will it be Spaeth or Adams who makes roster at TE?

That'll show up in preseason games. Spaeth is more of a blocking force but Adams is a contributor on special teams. This could be a good competition before it's all settled.

From @RoadRage:
How would you rate the DT's?

I've been tracking Stephen Paea through all the offseason and he's looked the best overall, with Henry Melton flashing a lot more than he did last year. The thing I note with Melton is that he went to Texas as a running back, converted to defensive end, and didn't really switch to tackle until spot duty in 2010, with good results. A lot of people are eager to see if Brian Price has anything left in football after his personal losses. Matt Toeaina is a proven plugger. The competition with Price, John McCargo and DeMario Pressley is ongoing and you'll know what I know based on watching the preseason games and who plays first and most.

From @Reg:
Overall does this look as good as the 2011 defense?

Until the shots are thrown in anger, pretty hard to evaluate. The emergence of Stephen Paea is an upgrade at defensive tackle, which is significant, and investing a No. 1 draft choice on a pass rusher makes that area better, on paper. The Bears did not take steps backwards on defense other than adding a year to their vets' ages, but right now I would rate 2012's D ahead of 2011's.

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

All of the good graces Bill Belichick may have won on Tuesday afternoon -- when he compared the Bears' offense to Kansas City's -- are officially gone. 

Today, when talking to reporters, a Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison came up. Belichick, who coached LT as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator in the 1980s, was NOT having it: 

"Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now. I’m not putting anybody in (LT’s) class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor."

A bit harsh, Bill. 

For what it's worth, here's Khalil Mack's 2018 projection, assuming his latest ankle injury doesn't make him miss time: 

20 sacks, four interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries

That's .5 sacks less and four INTS, 16 FFs and 4 recoveries more than LT had in his 1986 MVP season. And yeah, maybe "they didn't record tackles/fumbles in 1986" and "16 forced fumbles would not only blow the current record (10) out of the water but is just plain unrealistic" but whatever, we're just sayin'. 

UPDATE: shocker, LT agrees: