Cubs

Tillman on course for NFL defensive player of the year?

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Tillman on course for NFL defensive player of the year?

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was named NFC defensive player of the week for his performance against Calvin Johnson in the Bears 13-7 win over the Detroit Lions last Monday. It was his second win in the last three weeks, having received the same honor for his play in the Jacksonville game, when he returned an interception for a touchdown for the second straight week.

Tillman is a favorite to add the award for NFC defensive player of the month next week, with two weekly awards in the five October weekends.

But Tillman, who was overlooked in Pro Bowl considerations for his career until last season, is moving into rarified air. His work is expected to move him into the discussion for NFL defensive player of the year.

History and hype against him

Tillmans chances are modest at best. The play and accompanying hype of Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt for his sacks and deflections make him the favorite at this juncture.

Indeed, only five players in the 40-year history of the DPOY award have been cornerbacks and three of those were on Super Bowl winners. Three of the four eligible were installed in the Hall of Fame and the fifth is headed there.

Mel Blount (1975) won as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Lester Hayes (1980) won a Super Bowl as an Oakland Raider. Rod Woodson (1993) didnt reach the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers but he did and won with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, after hed moved to safety, something Tillman and the Bears arent planning in Chicago just yet.

Deion Sanders (1994) played one year with the San Francisco 49ers but made it count for a Super Bowl.

The Woodson template

The Green Bay Packers didnt win the Super Bowl in 2009 with DPOY Charles Woodson but they and he were posting Bear-like numbers that season. And team performance is unquestionably key for the award.

The Packers ranked No. 2 in yardage allowed in 2009; the Bears currently are sixth in yardage but No. 1 in scoring defense. Green Bay had 30 interceptions; the Bears have 14 through six games.

The Packers led the league with 40 takeaways in Woodsons DPOY season; the Bears have 21 through six games.

Tillman needs more than his two interceptions, however. Woodson posted his career high of nine and returned three of them for touchdowns.

Timing matters

But Tillman already has had two pick-sixs. More important perhaps, he has done some of his finest work on the national stage.

Woodson won DPOW (weekly) for his play against the high-profile Dallas Cowboys. Tillman returned his first interception for a touchdown at Dallas, and did it on MNF.

Woodson won his second DPOW for his shutting down of Calvin Johnson, holding the Detroit wideout to two catches, one for a touchdown. In winning his own second DPOW, Tillman limited Johnson to three catches, none for a touchdown.

Woodson was savvy enough to do it to Johnson in a Thanksgiving Day game. Tillman doesnt play on Thanksgiving this year but he did do his work on Johnson on the MNF platform.

After the Bears games vs. Carolina and at Tennessee, the Bears play Houston in the Sunday night prime-timer on NBC (think the network can find a story line with Tillman and Watt in the same game?)

Then they are at San Francisco eight days later for another Monday Night session.

Nothing is ever really settled in six games. But Tillman already has played his way where no Bears cornerback has gone before.

A lots been said about this over-the-hill defense gang that we have, said coach Lovie Smith. I just know that last year Charles went to the Pro Bowl at that age and he had a career year. I just know hes a good football player right now.

Maybe even the NFLs best one on defense.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do the Cubs need to make a deal?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Do the Cubs need to make a deal?

On this episode of SportsTalk Live, Fred Mitchell, Seth Gruen and Jason Goch join David Kaplan on the panel.

The Cubs bats come alive against the Giants while Theo says there have been plenty of trade rumors but no trade talks. Do the Cubs need to make a deal?

Plus, Ray Ratto joins Kap to talk about the Warriors struggles and the guys debate if LeBron is playing his final game in a Cavaliers uniform.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

91 Days to Kickoff: Joliet Catholic

91 Days to Kickoff: Joliet Catholic

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Joliet Catholic Academy

Head coach: Jake Jaworski

Assistant coaches: Dave Douglas, Cory McLaughlin, Chris Kinsella, Mark Mettille, Jake Ziesmer, Zach Dolph, Josh Greenback and Craig Slowik

How they fared in 2017: 3-6 (2-5 East Suburban Catholic Conference). JCA failed to make the 2017 IHSA state playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs. St. Rita

Aug. 31 @ IC Catholic Prep

Sept. 7 @ St. Viator

Sept. 14 vs. Carmel

Sept. 21 @ Marist

Sept. 28 vs. Benet Academy

Oct. 5 vs. Marian Catholic

Oct. 12 @ Nazareth Academy

Oct. 19 @ Notre Dame

Biggest storyline: Can Joliet Catholic snap a two-year hiatus from the state football playoffs?

Names to watch this season: OT Dave Monnot and RB Kenyetta Williams

Biggest holes to fill: The Hilltoppers will need to reload at the quarterback and wide receiver positions. 

EDGY's Early Take: It's been a rough few seasons at one of the state's best football programs. That said, 2018 has the potential to be the turnaround year the Hilltoppers have been looking for. Second-year head coach Jake Jaworski will feature four big and experienced offensive linemen, led by senior OT Dave Monnot (6-foot-6, 287 pounds). They also have a name to watch in junior-to-be RB Kenyetta Williams. If Joliet Catholic can survive another challenging early season non-conference schedule, they will compete in the always-tough ESCC.