Preps Talk

Rizzo's journey to Wrigley

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Rizzo's journey to Wrigley

Anthony Rizzo will make his debut with the Cubs Tuesday at Wrigley Field. As Cubs fans will get their first look at the top prospect, let's take a look back at the journey Rizzo has had in 2012.

Rizzo ended 2011 in a sort of no-man's-land, as the Padres had just acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso and Rizzo's path to the big leagues was blocked. That prompted Bill Center, a Padres beat writer, to explain in a chat that he felt Chicago was the ultimate destination for Rizzo.

That turned out to be correct, as the Cubs dealt Andrew Cashner and minor-league outfielder Kyung-Min Na to the Padres for Rizzo and right-hander Zach Cates during the first week of 2012.

At the time, we wondered whether Rizzo was worth giving up Cashner, and Rizzo tweeted his reaction to the trade. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said after the trade that Bryan LaHair would start the season as the first baseman, with Rizzo in Triple-A.

CSN analyst and 12-year MLB veteran Todd Hollandsworth weighed in on the Rizzo deal, calling it a "very good trade." Rizzo's arrival pushed Brett Jackson immediately as the Cubs' top prospect.

As the slugger became a part of the Cubs' roster, the stories came fast and furious:

Jan. 14: Rizzo looking forward to his shot whenever he gets it

Jan. 21: Rizzo rated No. 1 first base prospect

Jan. 25: Cubs net three prospects in MLB's Top 100

Feb. 1: Baseball America's version of the Cubs' top prospects

Feb. 14: Jackson, Rizzo among impact rookies of '12

Feb. 16: Rizzo on being traded twice in brief career

Feb. 28: Rizzo, Vitters have something to prove with Cubs

Feb. 29: Could both LaHair and Rizzo find way into Cubs lineup?

Mar. 1: Cubs should wait on Jackson, Rizzo

Mar. 8: The search for the elusive lefty power bat

Mar. 23: Jackson and Rizzo won't be down for long

April 7: Cubs keeping their eyes on Jackson, Rizzo

April 24: Cubs minor-league roundup -- Week 3

April 30: Kaplan: Cubs shouldn't rush prospects

May 2: Rizzo named Cubs' minor-league player of the month

May 7: Cardenas begins youth movement from Triple-A Iowa

May 9: Kaplan: Cubs minor league report

May 16: Cubs minor league update: Rizzo still raking

May 20: The decision: Rizzo talks about to heat up for Cubs

May 22: Kaplan: No need to rush Rizzo

May 22: Rizzo continues to impress in Iowa

May 22: Cubs minor league update: Jackson still struggling

May 24: Anthony Rizzo is getting ready for takeoff

May 27: Keep waiting: Cubs not calling up Rizzo just yet

May 28: Hoyer knows Rizzo can't be the savior for Cubs

May 30: This time, Cubs think Rizzo can live up to the hype

June 1: Cubs keeping Rizzo in holding pattern

June 4: Don't look for Rizzo when Cubs play interleague

June 7: Minor league updates on Rizzo, Jackson, Jokisch

June 8: Rizzo, Vitters aren't options for Cubs yet

June 12: With Rizzo on horizon, Rowson is choice for next generation

June 12: Rizzo leaves Tuesday's game with leg injury

June 14: Cubs minor-league roundup

June 18: Cubs clearing the path for Anthony Rizzo

June 20: Soriano will welcome Rizzo with open arms

June 20: Cubs minor league round-up: Rizzo still hot

June 20: What is Rizzo getting himself into?

June 22: Sveum: No Rizzo this weekend in Arizona

June 23: Cubs notes: Still no Rizzo, but talk of his arrival continues

June 24: Cubs limp home knowing help is on the way

June 24: Kap: Rizzo to debut Tuesday?

June 25: The time is now for Cubs, Rizzo

June 25: Why did Rizzo struggle in San Diego?

June 25: Who is Anthony Rizzo?

June 25: Cubs final lineup card before Rizzo era begins

June 26: ???

Stay tuned. There will be plenty more to come.

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.”