Cutler realizes Bears need offense to step up


Cutler realizes Bears need offense to step up

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Jay Cutler understands the Chicago Bears need help to get to the playoffs, and they could use more than just an assist from archrival Green Bay.

How about getting that offense to pitch in?

It hasn't in recent weeks, and that's one reason the Bears (9-6) are in danger of missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. The struggles on offense have played a big role in their free-fall after a 7-1 start, and even if they win at Detroit in the season finale on Sunday, there's no guarantee they'll make it.

They'll still need Green Bay to beat or tie Minnesota. They could also get in with a tie if the Vikings lose.

``This is a big game,'' Cutler said. ``I think last week was a big game. We've got to win. There's nothing else to be said about it. And quarterback play, these are games you've got to have.''

After dropping five of their previous six, the Bears are coming off a 28-13 win over Arizona thanks to two defensive touchdowns. Starting running back Matt Forte's status for this week is in question after he injured his right ankle for the third time this season.

He came through with one of his better performances, running for 88 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries before leaving the game.

He did not practice Wednesday.

``His ankle is looking pretty good,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ``It's a big football game. They're all big. You always play guys when they're healthy and ready to go. Hopefully, that'll be the case with Matt. He's pretty encouraged by what's happened.''

That's good news for an offense that hasn't delivered much in recent weeks.

If Forte isn't ready, the Bears would turn to Kahlil Bell and Armando Allen with backup Michael Bush on injured reserve.

Injuries on both sides have mounted with the losses, but the defense at least has been doing its part. The Bears got back to their ball-hawking ways against an anemic offense last week, with Charles Tillman returning an interception for a score and Zack Bowman returning a fumble recovery one yard for another touchdown.

But the offense again had trouble finding the end zone.

The Bears have just three touchdowns rushing and eight passing over the past seven games and had only one of each against the Cardinals.

Cutler completed 1 of his first 11 passes and finished with 146 yards after throwing for just 135 the previous week in a loss to Green Bay that left the Bears looking for help to get to the playoffs rather than controlling their own destiny.

The offense did click in the two-minute drill just before halftime against Arizona, with Brandon Marshall hauling in an 11-yard touchdown pass.

``It wasn't (that) we were doing anything different or they were doing anything different,'' Cutler said. ``We were just making plays. Running good routes, guys were snagging the ball, the line played well all day. I think we just have to have a sense of urgency on every play and just get up there, like the call and go out there and execute it.''

One thing that's encouraging for the Bears is Cutler's history against Detroit. He's 6-2 against the Lions with 1,565 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception.

But he also realizes Detroit would love to knock out the Bears.

How Chicago's offense performs could go a long way toward preventing that. The Bears rank 28th in that area and simply haven't clicked the way they envisioned after bringing in Marshall and reuniting him with Cutler.

They've been banged up, and their offensive line has been a mess all year, struggling with injuries and poor play in general. That group actually held its ground last week.

``They're grown men and they get embarrassed,'' offensive coordinator Mike Tice said. ``They don't want to be the group that's screwing it up for everybody. They've taken their turns doing that. We all have.''

Notes: Bears DT Henry Melton teed off on the Lions, calling them a ``dirty team'' that's going to take liberties. ``Oh, they're going to be looking for cheap shots and all that mess. We've just got to hold our composure and play the game we know.'' There have been issues between the teams in recent years, and Brandon Marshall called out Ndamukong Suh on Twitter for what he thought was a dirty hit on a violent sack of Cutler during the Bears' win over the Lions in October. Cutler insisted at the time there was nothing illegal about the hit. ... Besides Forte, Brian Urlacher (hamstring), Tillman (ribs, elbow), S Chris Conte (hamstring), RB Armando Allen (knee) and LB Blake Costanzo (calf) did not practice.


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Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

A couple of weeks ago, John Wall was spotted at a Washington Mystics game with no brace to support his Achilles injury, a sign that his rehab from the injury was moving in the right direction. 

On Monday night at the 2019 NBA Awards, the Wizards point guard gave affirmation that he is indeed continuing to get healthier and stronger.

"I feel great, man," Wall told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the red carpet. "I'm doing a great job with my body, taking care of that."

Specifically, Wall has been able to slowly increase what he can do on his legs. The recovery and rehab for an injury as severe as his is a long road, and the point guard is making sure not to speed up the process and risk hindering the progress. However, he's about to reach a pretty big milestone in the journey during the coming weeks.

"I'm about to start jogging in like two weeks. Just riding the bike, I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don't have to sit down. I'm able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things," Wall said. "Just taking my time and progressing and letting everything heal the right way so I don't force myself back and get another injury."

As Wall continues to work to get back on the court, he's had plenty of motivational factors pushing him through some grueling months. His recent string of injuries have left some wondering if he'll still be an elite player when he finally.

He's heard those comments and he's using them to his advantage.

"I'm one of those guys that's very driven by all the hate and all the negative talk I'm getting. Keep it going," Wall said.

"Everybody said I can't be myself, I won't be nowhere near as good again. That's all the other stuff that's going to fuel me. I don't get upset about it, you're entitled to your own opinion. Please keep it going."

The haters have given Wall some extra juice, but so has his son Ace. Spending the offseason getting right has allowed Wall to work in another area of life: fatherhood.

The newest addition to his family has taken his desire for greatness to new heights.

"I've always had that drive that I want to be the greatest. To have a son like that, that's watching everything I can do. Even though he doesn't understand what's going on, he's putting memories in his head," Wall said. 

"So that gives me extra, extra motivation to another level I never thought I could. Like I said before, that's the best blessing a man could ever ask for is to have a son."

While Wall's offseason has been a busy one as he juggles rehab and being a dad, he's still been very involved in everything going on inside the franchise.

He's already chatted with first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura, and is excited for what is to come for the Wizards. Wall is also hoping that Hachimura will help improve his Japanese so that he can grow a larger following internationally. 

As the calendar slowly turns to July, both Wall and the Wizards' offseasons will ramp up. It's been an up and down time for both lately, but he's excited about the future.

"I think it's good," Wall said about the Wizards situation. "We added some pieces. See what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."


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Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

While he was putting together the best season of his career, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was also making a profound impact off the court and those efforts have earned him a significant honor, the NBA's 2018-19 Community Assist Award.

The news was revealed at Monday's NBA Awards in Santa Monica, CA as Beal got the nod over nine other finalists. He is the second Wizards player to win the honor in just the last four years following John Wall in 2015-16.

Beal was involved in a variety of charitable efforts this past season. He has partnered with the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast Washington to help underprivileged youth. He visited the school in December and gave out shoes.

During the All-Star break in February, as he made his second appearance in the annual showcase, Beal handed out meals at a food bank alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This past year he also gave out Christmas presents in the Washington area and took a group of kids on a tour of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Beal was named a finalist for the Community Assist Award in April along with Jarrett Allen (Nets), Mike Conley (Jazz), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Dwight Powell (Mavs) and Pascal Siakam (Raptors). Part of the criteria was based on fan voting through social media that was held from April 24 through May 25.

Beal, 25, continues to ascend on the court as well. This year he posted career-highs in points (25.6/g), assists (5.5/g) and rebounds (5.0/g). He nearly made All-NBA in late May with the most votes of any guard that was left out.

In Beal and Wall, the Wizards have quite the combination. Both have been All-Stars on the court and now both can say they won the NBA's top honor for charity work as well.