Preps Talk

With rebuilding process underway, Cubs in good hands

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With rebuilding process underway, Cubs in good hands

The rebuilding process of the 21-41 Chicago Cubs is well underway at the corner of Clark and Addison where the "Theo Trio" is continuing their overhaul of the worst team in baseball. The current edition of the Cubs has very few players that will be here when the team is expected to be a pennant contender so that means that Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have to use every available method to add talent to an organization that is devoid of impact players at all levels of their system.

With the first year player draft now over Epstein and Hoyer's attention turns to the trading period with the Cubs expected to be the most aggressive team in moving players to contenders. With that mindset obvious it is imperative that the clubs starts making trades as soon as is feasibly possible. Ryan Dempster should fetch a solid package in return and with the dominant outing that he had on Friday against the Boston Red Sox it should increase interest in American League teams that might have questioned his ability to pitch in the AL prior to his red hot start to the 2012 season.

However, while Dempster will be in high demand among contenders in both leagues he will not be as sought after as Matt Garza will because of his previous success in the AL East when he pitched for Tampa Bay. Add in the fact that Garza is under team control for another season and you have a pitcher that any contender would love to have. "Unless the Phillies decide to trade free agent to be Cole Hamels and I don't think they will, Matt Garza is definitely the number one starting pitcher available on the market and he should bring back 2-3 quality players," Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons told me before the opening game of the Red SoxCubs series at Wrigley Field.

Gammons opined on a number of Cubs related topics including the rebuilding process that Epstein and Hoyer are in charge of. "When Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod left Boston to run the San Diego Padres they took over a franchise that was ranked the worst organization in baseball. When they left to go to Chicago they left a Padres organization that was ranked 1 in all of baseball. They did that by making smart trades and drafting very well. Theo and Jed will do the same thing here in Chicago and with the resources of the Ricketts family who are very well respected in the game and committed to building a great organization from top to bottom the Cubs will get it done. However, it will take 2-3 years to see them get competitive but then you should have a sustained run of success," Gammons said.

IHSA Preps Football AP Poll: Week 9

IHSA Preps Football AP Poll: Week 9

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:

Class 8A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Lincoln-Way East (9) 8-0 98 1
2. Maine South 7-1 87 2
3. Marist (1) 7-1 79 3
4. Oswego 8-0 74 4
5. Homewood-Flossmoor 7-1 60 5
6. Bolingbrook 7-1 43 7
7. Naperville Central 6-2 25 8
8. Warren 7-1 23 NR
9. Glenbard West 6-2 21 6
10. Hinsdale Central 6-2 15 10

Others receiving votes:  Oswego East 8, Oak Park-River Forest 5, Neuqua Valley 4, Edwardsville 3, Plainfield South 3, West Aurora 2.

Class 7A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Batavia (6) 8-0 102 1
2. Brother Rice (2) 8-0 96 2
3. East St. Louis (3) 6-2 81 3
4. Nazareth  7-1 77 T-4
5. Mt. Carmel 7-1 64 T-4
6. Simeon 8-0 63 6
7. Hononegah 8-0 43 7
8. Normal Community 7-1 31 8
9. Glenbard East 8-0 23 NR
10. St. Charles North 6-2 7 10

Others receiving votes: Rolling Meadows 6, Belleville West 4, Moline 4, Wheaton Warrenville South 2, Lincoln-Way West 1, Hoffman Estates 1.

Class 6A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Cary-Grove (7)  8-0 106 T-1
2. Richards (4) 8-0 102 T-1
3. Willowbrook 8-0 76 3
4. Phillips 6-2 73 5
5. Glenwood 8-0 62 6
6. Prairie Ridge 6-2 48 4
7. Niles Notre Dame 7-1 47 7
8. Normal West 7-1 38 8
9. DeKalb 7-1 33 9
10.  Providence 5-3 8 10


Others receiving votes: Sacred Heart-Griffin 8, Kenwood 3, Bloomington 1.

Class 5A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Washington (9) 8-0 107 1
2. Montini (1) 8-0 98 2
3. Sterling (1) 8-0 89 3
4.  Hillcrest 8-0 75 4
5.  Highland 8-0 63 5
6. Antioch 8-0 58 6
7. Decatur MacArthur 6-2 39 8
8. Metamora 7-1 31 7
9.  Payton 8-0 21 10
10.  Kaneland 6-2 14 NR

Others receiving votes: Marion 4, Sycamore 3, St. Francis 2, Carbondale 1.


Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. IC Catholic (12) 8-0 147 1
2. Rochester (3) 7-1 136 2
3. Rockford Boylan 7-1 111 4
4. Taylorville 8-0 109 3
5. Cahokia 7-1 76 6
6.  Coal City 7-1 69 5
7.  Richmond-Burton 7-1 50 7
8. Columbia 7-1 48 8
9. Pontiac 7-1 42 9
10. Marengo 6-2 23 NR

Others receiving votes: Freeburg 4, Breese Mater Dei 3, Fairbury Prairie Central 3, Urban Prep Charter/Bronzeville 2, Herrin 1, Murphysboro 1.
 

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Byron (6) 8-0 144 1
2. Bishop McNamara (7) 7-1 137 2
3. Carlinville (2) 8-0 130 3
4. Monticello (1) 8-0 125 4
5. Farmington 8-0 96 5
6. Williamsville 7-1 78 6
7. Lisle 8-0 55 7
8. Beardstown 7-1 44 9
9. West Frankfort 7-1 30 10
10. Paris 8-0 22 NR

Others receiving votes: Fairfield 9, Anna-Jonesboro 2, Monmouth-Roseville 2, North Boone 1, Rock Island Alleman 1, Vandalia 1, Breese Central 1, Dunbar 1, Elmwood-Brimfield 1.

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Maroa-Forsyth (10) 8-0 145 1
2. Orion (4) 8-0 133 2
3. Decatur St. Teresa (1) 8-0 118 3
4. Sterling Newman 7-1 98 4
5. Eastland-Pearl City 8-0 93 5
6. Illini West (Carthage) 8-0 72 6
7. Pana  7-1 53 7
8. Hope Academy 6-2 51 8
9. Nashville 7-1 39 10
10. Eldorado 6-2 6 NR

Others receiving votes: Rockridge 5, Knoxville 4, Bismarck-Henning 4, Collins 2, Clifton Central 1, Mercer County 1


Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (15) 8-0 168 1
2. Lena-Winslow 7-1 142 2
T-3. Tuscola 7-1 114 3
T-3. Princeville 8-0 114 T-4
5. Ottawa Marquette (1)  8-0 113 T-4
6. Camp Point Central 7-1 75 6
7. Argenta-Oreana 8-0 68 8
8. Concord (Triopia) 7-1 53 7
9. Milledgeville 8-0 39 9
10. Aurora Christian 5-3 19 10

Others receiving votes: Athens 10, Sesser-Valier 6, Madison 5, Fisher 4, Carrollton 2, Red Hill 2, Orr 1.

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

Film review: Albert Wilson's 75-yard TD shows how Sunday was an aberration for the Bears' defense

(For a bonus film review, check out the video above of Akiem Hicks' forced fumble on the one-yard line)

When Eddie Jackson didn’t stay on top shoulder of Randall Cobb in the fourth quarter of the Bears’ season opener, there was a clear coaching point from that 75-yard backbreaking touchdown. The Bears’ defensive mantra the week after was to focus on “plastering” receivers, which this defense did a good job of over the next three weeks. 

There surely are coaching points leveled by Vic Fangio and his assistants after the Bears were carved up by Brock Osweiler and the Miami Dolphins in Sunday’s 31-28 loss in Miami. But maybe the over-arching though here is this: The Bears didn’t, during the off week, go from being one of the league’s more sure-handed tackling teams to one of the worst. 

A defense that swarmed to the ball over the first four weeks looked a step slow and frequently out of position on Sunday. The more likely explanation for that development isn’t the plot to Space Jam 3, where a group of cartoon aliens steal the athletic power of an entire defense to use for their own. More likely, it was the heat in south Florida that sapped this team’s energy over the course of a long afternoon.

In this week’s film breakdown, we’re going to look at Albert Wilson’s 75-yard touchdown, which was wildly uncharacteristic of this defense. 

Image 1: the Bears are in nickel man coverage with Wilson (red circle) lined up in the slot across from Bryce Callahan. Danny Amendola goes in motion to the boundary (green arrow), with Danny Trevathan (green arrow) following him, though safety Adrian Amos will be the guy covering the Dolphins receiver. Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard are the two down linemen in the interior, with Leonard Floyd rushing from the left and Khalil Mack from the right. 

Image 2: Mack is chipped by tight end Nick O’Leary (yellow circle), with Roquan Smith (yellow arrow) responsible or covering him. Trevathan (green circle) is in space with Amos (blue circle) picking up Amendola. With Mack chipped, the Bears have three pass rushers to go against five offensive linemen. 

Image 3: There’s about 10 yards of space between Mack and Osweiler (yellow arrow) after Mack comes free of O’Leary’s chip. Trevathan (green circle) is in a good position here, with Amos (blue arrow) closing on Amendola. Wilson works into space ahead of Callahan (red arrow), while both Dolphins outside pass-catchers run go routes to clear cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Kevin Toliver II out of the play. 

Image 4: First, the white circle — Hicks had his helmet ripped off, with right tackle Jesse Davis the apparent culprit. He still manages a good pass rush against a double team that could’ve hit home, or forced Osweiler to Mack (who’s about five yards from Osweiler when the ball is released) or Floyd, had the play extended longer. Meanwhile, when the ball is released, Callahan (red arrow) and Trevathan (green arrow) are in good position to bring down Wilson, while Amos (blue arrow) is there for help if Wilson were to turn upfield to the far sideline. 

Image 5: Wilson catches the ball and goes to the far sideline, away from Callahan (red arrow) and toward Trevathan (green arrow). After O’Leary and Smith engaged, the rookie linebacker is the farthest back from the play of these three when the ball is caught. 

Image 6: Trevathan (green arrow) seems to over-commit, giving Wilson a lane toward the boundary to cut upfield. 

Image 7: Amos (blue arrow) still has a chance to bring down Wilson short of the sticks.

Image 8: Amos misses the tackle, and Trevathan is blocked by O’Leary. That leaves Jackson (yellow arrow) as the last guy who can stop Wilson from breaking this play open. 

Image 9: In missing the tackle, Amos tripped Wilson a bit, which Jackson admitted threw him off (“but that’s not an excuse for it,” he added). Wilson re-gains his balance, cuts inside, and Jackson whiffs on the tackle. 

“Probably just try to shoot my shot on the tackle instead of just guessing, just probably should have shot my shot,” Jackson said of what he felt he should’ve done differently. 

Wilson goes to the house, and the Dolphins tie the game one play after the Bears took the lead. The last image here is Wilson’s route chart from NFL Next Gen Stats, which shows just how much running he did after the catch on that play — yardage-wise, it was 71 yards, but by distance it was much further. 

“We talked about how many tackles we missed,” Jackson said. “Some of that could have really changed the momentum of the game if we would have made some of those tackles. Unfortunately, two of them resulted in big play touchdowns.”

No members of the Bears defense were willing to use the heat as an excuse, instead opting for thumb-pointing instead of blaming teammates, coaches or the sun. But there’s a good chance we look back at Week 6 in Week 10 or 11 and can say with some confidence that the Bears beat themselves more than the Dolphins did, and it’s something that hasn’t happened since. 

“We know we made mistakes, that don’t kill our confidence,” Jackson said. “That don’t kill our swagger. We know what we gotta do, we know what we gotta correct. So we come in here, we’re going to play Chicago Bears football that we’re used to playing.”