Bears

Shaw putting up numbers, but hasn't lost edge

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Shaw putting up numbers, but hasn't lost edge

Andrew Shaw was getting very creative on his goal scoring lately. Off his shins, off his stick, it didnt matter; Shaw wouldve knocked the puck off any part of him to ensure success.

I dont think Ive scored off my head, Shaw said recently. But Ill work on it.

When Shaw returned for his second stint with the Blackhawks, the coaches told him what they wanted: energy, fire, determination and, if he potted a goal or two, it was a bonus. The good news for Shaw this time around is, hes still putting up numbers and he hasnt lost his edge in the process.

Shaw had a five-game point streak before he was held off the score sheet against New Jersey on Tuesday night. No, Shaw isnt supposed to be a tried-and-true goal scorer. But since he isnt afraid to get to the net and use himself as a human deflector something the Blackhawks havent had enough of these past two seasons and hes getting rewarded for it.

Hes a little guy but hes got a big heart, Marian Hossa said. He leaves everything on the ice. Hes always around the net and good things happen when he goes to those areas. He doesnt mind the dirty work and good things happen for him.

His commitment to that has earned him more ice time and more responsibilities. It also earned him a shootout chance against the venerable Martin Brodeur on Tuesday. Shaw beat the Devils goaltender, but instead hit post. Nevertheless, Shaws obviously earning respect from teammates and coaches.

I just think hes got that ingredient that you like as a competitor. He finds ways to get the job done and welcomes the challenges, coach Joel Quenneville said. Whether you use the term fearless or gutsy, you can add some more terms to that. You appreciate the way he competes for himself and his teammates.

Defenseman Duncan Keith said I think whats underrated with him is his speed. Hes not the smoothest skater but he gets to places and gets to the right areas.

Shaw got a second chance with the Blackhawks and hes taking advantage of it. Hes dealt with the pressure of a late-season playoff push. He got a taste of what the playoffs can be like in a heated game against Vancouver last week. Its heady stuff, and Shaws handled it just fine.

The kids got energy, Corey Crawford said. What can I say? Hes playing hard and has some skill, too. Were definitely glad hes in the lineup.

Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

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Recalling moments in Tom Brady history ahead of his likely last meeting with Bears

As Tom Brady approaches what in all reasonable likelihood will be his last game against the Bears and in Soldier Field, the first time this reporter saw Tom Brady comes very much to mind. Actually the first times, plural. Because they were indeed memorable, for different reasons.

That was back in 2001, when Brady should have started replacing Wally Pipp as the poster athlete for what can happen when a player has to sit out and his replacement never gives the job back. Drew Bledsoe, who’d gotten the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, had gotten injured week two of that season. Brady, who’d thrown exactly one pass as a rookie the year before, stepped in and never came out, playing the Patriots into the AFC playoffs the same year the Bears were reaching and exiting the NFC playoffs when Philadelphia’s Hugh Douglas body-slammed QB Jim Miller on his shoulder.

After that the playoff assignments were elsewhere, including the Patriots-Steelers meeting in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. Brady started that game but left with an ankle injury and Bledsoe came off the bench to get the Patriots into Super Bowl.

Then came one of those rare moments when you are witnessing history but have the misfortune of not knowing it at the time.

The question of Super Bowl week was whether Bill Belichick would stay with Bledsoe’s winning hand or go back to Brady. Belichick of course waited deep into Super Bowl week before announcing his decision at 8 p.m. on a Thursday night, the second time that season Belichick had opted to stay with Brady over a healthy Bledsoe. And of course Belichick didn’t announce the decision himself (surprise); he had it put out by the team’s media relations director.

You did have to respect Belichick, though, going into his first Super Bowl as a head coach with a sixth-round draft choice at quarterback and leaving a former (1992) No. 1-overall pick with a $100-million contract on the bench. The Patriots upset The Greatest Show on Turf Rams in that Super Bowl, Brady was MVP, and Bledsoe was traded to Buffalo that offseason.

History.

That Super Bowl also included one of those performance snapshots the Bears envision for Mitch Trubisky but missed a chance to let him attempt last Sunday at Miami in his 17th NFL start. Brady took the Patriots on a drive starting at their own 17 with 1:30 to play and no timeouts, ending with an Adam Vinatieri field-goal winner.

If Belichick was all right letting his second-year quarterback in just his 17th start throw eight straight passes starting from inside his own red zone, the next time Matt Nagy gets the football at his own 20 with timeouts and time in hand, best guess is that the decision will be to see if his quarterback lead a game-winning drive with his arm instead of handing off.

It may not happen this Sunday. Brady is a career 4-0 vs. Bears, and if there is one constant it is that his opposite numbers play really bad football against him, or rather his coach’s defense. Bears quarterback passer ratings opposite Brady, even in years when the Bears were good: Jim Miller 51.2 in 2002, Rex Grossman 23.7 in 2006; Jay Cutler 32.9 and Cutler again in the 51-23 blowout in Foxboro. Cutler finished that game with a meaningless 108.6 rating, meaningless because Cutler put up big numbers beginning when his team was down 38-7 after he’d mucked about with a 61.7 rating, plus having a fumble returned for a TD, while the Bears were being humiliated.

A surprise would be if Trubisky bumbles around like his predecessors (New England allows an average opponent passer rating of 91.6), but whether he can produce a third straight 120-plus rating…. Then again, Pat Mahomes put a 110.0 on the Patriots last Sunday night, but Deshaun Watson managed only a 62.9 against New England in game one.

Trubisky will make the third of the three 2017 first-round QB’s to face the Patriots. The first two lost.

Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

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Bulls Talk Podcast: The ultimate Bulls briefing to get you ready for Opening Night

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski sits down with Kendall Gill and Will Perdue to discuss all the need-to-know topics to get you ready for the season opener. The guys analyze how Lauri’s injury will make its mark on the early season rotation, whether Jabari will return to the starting unit or embrace the 6th-man role and why Portis betting on himself is the right move. Plus, Kendall has the key to unlock a “6th Man of the Year” award for Portis this season.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: