defense

Aye dios mio, search the Bulls defensively crumbled against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday allowing the previously win-less Hornets to score 130 points on them – ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY POINTS.

We can trash talk the Bulls play against the Hornets all we want, see but the overlying issue here is whether this was just a one game blunder with a valuable defensive lesson, or if this is the future of this Bulls’ squad under new Head Coach Fred Hoiberg (and small tear falls down my cheek).

Jimmy Butler was the first to vocalize his frustration with the game, explaining that the team hasn’t been playing tough enough defense. Butler, who was brought up in the league under coach Thibodeau who preached his defense-minded game strategy until he was blue in the face, is definitely not used to getting out played on the boards by a 0-3 team.

We got to nip that in the bud now because that’s not winning basketball. It will never be winning basketball here and it never has been winning basketball here. We’ve always prided ourself on playing hard and not being pretty. Tonight, we were pretty, we were soft. Got our asses whipped. – Jimmy Butler

Something interesting to note, was prior to Tuesday’s game the Bulls were fourth in the NBA for points allowed per 100 possessions according to ESPN Stats. There was also Pau Gasol’s huge Lebron James block to win the season opener and Jimmy Butler’s game-winning defensive moves to hold onto a win against the Magic. The Hornets did however shoot over 50 percent from the field and 60 percent from beyond the 3-point line – so maybe they had their most incredible game ever, or there’s something deeper happening here. Butler seemed to think the problem was rooted in all the offensive scorers on the roster. With the additional offensive freedom given by Hoiberg, the goal has been to out-score other teams. What’s essential to remember is that basketball is a two sided game. You have to make the buckets, but you also have to stop other teams from scoring. The Bulls are too big and too strong to get out rebounded by any team, use your size to an advantage guys.

After a game like this, comparisons between new Head Coach Fred Hoiberg and previous coach Tom Thibodeau are inevitable. Is Hoiberg’s offensive freedom-focused strategy actually the path to success for the Chicago Bulls? Thibodeau’s strategy was criticized for being overly focused on defense, not producing enough offense to win the big games against opponents like the star-studded Miami Heat of season’s past. Will we ever see a happy medium? A team that is able to produce the points, but also prevent opponents from going on crazy scoring runs. I guess I’ll have to put it on my Christmas wish-list.

Tonight will be an ultimate test as the Bulls prepare to take on the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder. If defense doesn’t show up to the game tonight, things are going to get real ugly real fast.

The goal is to have Jimmy feeling more like this after the game:

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Photo Credit:  Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Bears fans are scratching their heads at how a team so talented could be so inconsistent and awful.  And now fans aren’t the only ones scratching their heads, seek as many Bears players are asking themselves the same questions.  Half way through the season, cialis Chicago’s own are struggling to find any sort of rhythm and consistency out on the field.

To quickly recap this past Sunday’s game vs. the New England, no rx Patriot QB Tom Brady

Tom Brady, Source: espn.go.com

Tom Brady, Source: espn.go.com

played one of the best games of his life as NE quickly destroyed the Chicago Bears, 51-23.  All five of Brady’s touchdowns occurred in the first half of the game, while Chicago only had one in the first half.

While the Bears have a 3-5 record overall (third in the NFC North), their only victories on the road… and not against QBs named Tom Brady.  To quote Brandon Marshall, “This is simply unacceptable”.

Who’s to blame?

If I could assign a grade to the Bears performance for the first half of the regular season, I would give them a D+ or C-. Lack of leadership (Jay Cutler), locker room blow-ups (Brandon Marshall), and negative comments regarding fans (Kyle Long) make these last couple weeks brutal at best.

Let’s break down a couple key players performance so far this year:

Jay Cutler Jay Cutler – C

I’m probably being too nice, Jay. I still wear my “Jay Cutty is my Buddy” t- shirt, but I can’t say the friendship is there anymore – we’re more like frenemies.  The Bears front office has been grooming you for this leadership role and you’re failing miserably. Heck, even your bromance buddy, Brandon Marshall is calling you out. 293 attempted passes with only 197 completions? 8 interceptions and 9 fumbles? UNACCEPTABLE!

Brandon Marshall – B-

Marsh has 34 receptions for 384 yards with 5 touchdowns and 1 fumble so far this season.  Not bad.  However, he had 100 catches for 1,295 yards with 12 touchdowns and 0 fumbles in 2013.  Granted, I’m comparing a full 2013 season to a partial 2014 season but it looks like Jay should connect more with Marsh to give us both the yards and TDs that we so desperately need.  Marshall’s leadership is also what makes him a key player for Chicago. I love that he’s the first to admit that the Bears sub-par performance is ridiculous.

Alshon Jeffrey – B+

Jeffrey has 38 receptions for 563 yards and 3 touchdowns. In his 2013 season with the Bears he had 89 receptions for 1421 yards.  Cutler has 2 of the best WR in the league – how can he not take advantage of this opportunity?

Matt Forte – A

Forte is our silent force on the field. He has over 562 rushing yards this season and 3 touchdowns, compared to the 1,339 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns in 2013. He’s consistent, reliable and one of the top 10 leading rushers in the NFL to date. (He currently sits at #5.)Matt Forte Running

Isn’t it weird that our offense is pretty solid? Where’s the problem? Defense. The Bears defense sits at 3rd for most allowed the most points in the league at 222. (Side note: please don’t get me started on Lamarr Houston’s sack and torn ACL.)

Hopefully Coach Trestman can find a way to rally the troops during this bye week. I hate saying this, but maybe we need to take a page out of Dallas’ playbook.  The Cowboys know they have a weak defense (sound familiar Bears fans?) so they try to run the clock on offense – giving the D little time as possible on the field.

Bottom Line

We need more than positive thinking to get us through the second half of the season. Otherwise, Bears fans will continue to spend hundreds of dollars to sit at Soldier Field and boo what could be a spectacular but what has sadly become a sub-par team. Next up? Bears take on our arch-nemesis, the Green Bay Packers 11/9 at Lambeau Field. Unfortunately, with Jay’s lack of wins against GB, I am already going to say that I don’t foresee a Bear victory.

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The Chicago Bears were their own worst enemy this regular season – a season that ended abruptly tonight in a heartbreaking loss to the rival Green Bay Packers in a winner-take-all scenario.

After blowing the opportunity to clinch the division last week in Philly, pharm you would’ve thought that the Bears would have come out guns blazing today against their arch-nemesis the Green Bay Packers… and yes, while there were some great sparks and bouts of excitement today, a couple of key plays ultimately would cost them the game – and their post season aspirations, as they once again, fell to the Pack, this time in a close one, 33-28.

The bottom line here is this:  A potential play-off spot literally fell into their lap and CHICAGO SOMEHOW MANAGED TO BLOW THEIR CHANCE TO WIN THE NFC NORTH AND HEAD TO THE PLAYOFFS.

Instead, the 8-7-1 Packers win the division, almost by default and the Bears miss the postseason for the sixth time in the last seven years. Talk about a heartbreaking end to Trestman’s first year as coach…. there’s going to be lots of talk about the future of key players (Cutty included).  Here’s what you need to know about the saddest game of the season.

What You Need to Know:

  • Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was anything but rusty tonight in his return after missing seven games due to a broken collarbone. In fact, he threw the most beautiful 48-yard TD pass to WR Randall Cobb with 38 seconds remaining in the game to give Green Bay the victory. Rodgers went 25-for-39 for 318 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions and a passer rating of 85.2.
  • The Bears offense played well – but not good enough to get the win and make up for the faulty defense that ultimately broke down in the end. Matt Forte rushed for 110 yards on 22 carries and had four receptions for 47 yards (and my fantasy team thanks you) and three TDs. Jay Cutler had his best game of his career against the Packers and went 15-for-24 with 226 yards, two TDs, one pick and a passer rating of 103.8.  Brandon Marshall also had six receptions for 74 yards and one TD.

    Bears Women’s Navy Revelation Long Sleeve by College Concepts, Clark Street Sports: $29.99

  • Bizzare Play of Game:  WR Boykin scored on a Pack fumble to give Green Bay the lead in the first half. Boykin picked up what he thought was a dead ball (although there was no whistle) and stood there for a couple of seconds before he was urged to run into the end zone by his Aaron Rodgers.  Please note that the Bears defenders just stood around during this whole fiasco.  Apparently both teams had thought Rodgers had thrown an incomplete pass.  Hey D, for future reference: Always pick up the ball and run.  I’m sure the refs will tell you to stop if needed.

Your Take Away Piece:

“The Chicago Bears were 8-8 this year with Marc Trestman as head coach.  Our offense has drastically improved with the reliability of Matt Forte, the connection and relationship between Cutler and dynamic receivers Marshall and Jeffrey, and a surprisingly fun appearance from McCown while Cutler was out. Unfortunately, I do not have as much to say about our defense in 2013 as they were plagued with injuries and riddled with errors.”

What’s Next:

I’m not upper-level management or the McCaskeys but I think there will be some internal discussion regarding the defense (particularly safeties) and a restructuring of the d-line for next year.

I know there’s A LOT of rumors and public opinion on Cutler’s return…. and while he may not be the quarterback Chicago feels it deserves, he’s the quarterback Chicago needs right now. (Yes, I just loosely referenced “The Dark Knight”.)  I say this because I just don’t see many other QB options available out there right now and as we’ve seen this year, when you have a good offense you can plug in any QB and get some decent results.  My guess is Cutler and McCown will be back and that we will see some major changes defensively for the 2014 season. 

Until next season, Bear Down Chicago fans! It has been a pleasure chatting football with you.  I’ll be spending my next few days anticipating the Sugar Bowl.  Roll Tide!”

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Bears vs. Eagles

After the (8-6) Bears win on Sunday against Cleveland, cialis I was only partially relieved.  Yes, capsule Cutty was a little rusty… but he managed to pull through and gained that 4th quarter momentum when we needed him most.  Better yet, healing our defense even showed signs of life with a pick-six! Yet, full relief was not felt until Monday night when the football Gods shined down upon us handing Detroit a much-needed loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.

The Bears now sit in first place in the NFC North with a one-game lead in the division.

The Bears need to continue their winning ways on Sunday Night when they take the national stage on NBC’s Sunday Night Football against the (8-6) NFC East leading Philadelphia Eagles.  A win tonight gets the Bears one step closer to the playoffs, but first they must get past the surging Eagles who will be looking to clinch the NFC East tonight with a win at home. The Bears also need the Detroit Lions to lose today at home against the New York Giants. There’s a lot riding on tonight’s game. With a full day to prepare for the matchup ahead, here’s what you need to know:

What You Need to Know:

  • Last Sunday, the (8-6) Philadelphia Eagles had a five-game win streak snapped to a Adrian Peterson-less Minnesota (ouch).  The Eagles are looking to get back at their hot streak and need a victory to continue their journey to the post-season.
  • The Bears can clinch the division Sunday with a win – but only if the Packers and Lions lose their respective games.  So pending on those games which occur earlier in the day, we will have a better idea of what’s at stake Sunday night.

Who and What to Watch For: 

EAGLES:

LeSean McCoy

  • The Real McCoy: RB LeSean McCoy has more yards (1,017) and touchdowns (5) on rushes than any other team this season. He’s hungry and eager to get the ball vs. Chicago on Sunday – so expect the Eagles to run the ball by the Bears mediocre defense.
  • QB Nick Foles has been playing decent football since he replaced QB Michael Vick in game 6 of the season. Versus Minnesota last week, he threw for 428 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. He’ll be working to target McCoy frequently as the team has made it obvious that they plan to rush often.

BEARS:

  • The Dynamic Duo: In last week’s win against the Browns, Alshon Jeffery had 5 receptions for 72 yards and another amazing TD and Brandon Marshall had 6 receptions for 95 yards and 1 TD.  They can’t and won’t be stopped, so good luck Philly!
  • No D for Chicago:The Eagles have the number 1 rushing offense in the league and the Bears are straight up awful on the rush defense this year (yeah we’re first too… first place at having the WORST run defense).  Luckily for the Bears, Briggs might be back after he’d been out for more than 6 weeks with a shoulder injury.

Lance Briggs

  • Since our beloved Charles “Peanut” Tillman has been confirmed out for the remainder of the season with a tricept tear, it would be nice to see another one of the beloved defense vets (like Briggs) back out on the field.

 

Your Take Away Piece: 

“I’m redundant here but the Bears aren’t the only ones in the NFL struggling with their defenses, as Philadelphia’s is weak too.  This gives our crazy-good offense an opportunity to shine; I expect a high scoring game on both sides.  While the Eagles might have the #1 rush, they don’t have the best receivers in the league and I’m putting money on Alshon and Brandon to lead the way victory vs. the Eagles.”

Chicago Bears Women’s Navy Memoir V-Neck Tee by College Concepts, Clark Street Sports: $34.99

Check out the game in the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday night at 7:30PM on NBC.

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At the Chicago-Minnesota game last year; note there was no cheering for the Bears by the gentleman on the far left.

Living in a divided NFL household (yes, no rx my boyfriend is a stupid Dallas fan), purchase I openly admit to having a lot of pride, hospital bragging rights and a vested interest riding on this upcoming Bears/Cowboys game… Especially since he and I will spend this Monday Night Football matchup together at Soldier Field, freezing our butts off to watch a Bear victory.

(FYI: My boyfriend will never cheer for the Bears and therefore I will have nobody sitting next to me to help celebrate great plays; I usually end up high-fiving his head after every TD… so please help me out/don’t let me down, Machine Marshall.)

However, my pride is already struggling as the 6-6 Bears have hit a slump and have lost six of nine games since their 3-0 start. They are currently one game back with the Detroit Lions holding the first place position in the NFC North.

Dallas on the other hand, has won five of their last seven games and remains neck-and-neck with the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in their division.

OK, so obviously there’s a lot more than my pride that’s on the line here for Chicago (and Dallas) football.  Here’s some other “minor” details regarding this MNF match-up:

What You Need to Know:

  • On Thanksgiving Day, Dallas (7-5) stormed back to beat Oakland 31-24, while the Bears (6-6) had a bizarre OT loss to Minnesota 23-20 the following Sunday.
  • Both teams are struggling on defense which could make this a high-scoring game. With Lance Briggs, Peanut Tillman and Henry Melton all still out, the Bears will still struggle against the run and will need to do a better job putting pressure on Romo and containing his impressive receiving core.
  • This is a must-win for the Bears. With only four games remaining, the Bears are technically still in the hunt for the NFC North, however, in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, they need to win every remaining game and need Detroit to stumble down the stretch.
  • When it comes to the Bears-Cowboys previous match-up… Note that the Bears beat the Cowboys 34-18 in Dallas last October. Cutler threw for 275 yards and two TDs while Romo was picked off a career high-tying five times.

Who and What to Watch For:

DALLAS:

Tony Romo, Photo Credit: Tom Pennington, Getty Images

Tony Romo has generally struggled in December, with 13 wins and 17 losses since he took over as QB in 2006. While I like to tease my boyfriend relentlessly about Romo’s inconsistencies as a QB, the passing offense is one of the biggest strengths of the Cowboys this season. Romo’s actually completed 285 passes for over 3,140 yards with 24 TDs and only 7 INT this year. Not bad Romo, not bad.

Dez Bryant might be a little bit of a headcase, but it is just cause he’s so dang passionate about winning!  He and Romo definitely have a bit of a bromance going on as the wide receiver has lit up the field this season.  Expect the Bears defense to have 2 men on him at ALL TIMES Monday night. Unfortunately for the Bears – Romo has awesome targets with both WR Miles Austin and TE Jason Witten if Bryant is covered.

DeMarco Murray is coming off of a career-high three touchdowns Dallas’ win vs. Oakland and with the Bears defense allowing so many yards these days, expect Dallas to attempt RB Murray’s run game too when Bryant is covered.

CHICAGO:

Jay Cutler has missed games due to injury all season but we have actually played very well on offense without him.  As of today, Cutler has been ruled out to play on Monday night due to his ankle injury. With McCown leading the offense they are averaging 26.9 points and 381.4 total yards per game, not bad and definitely capable of beating the Cowboys.

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are the tag-team, dynamic duo, powerhouse of

Brandon Marshall

wide receivers that just cannot be stopped.  Between the two of them they’ve totaled over 2,099 yards and 14 TDs this season.  Remember, Jeffery had a career game last week against Minnesota with 12 catches for a franchise record 249 yards and two huge TDs.  Jeffery also broke his own single-game team record for receiving yards.  If Dallas’ defense is smart – they’ll be looking to shut down our WR at every opportunity.

We’d love to see more of TE Martellus Bennett on Monday night against his former teammates. The Black Unicorn has been relatively quiet lately due to non-threatening injuries that have not made him a regular target of McCown’s.

Your Take Away Piece:

“The major red flag for both teams this season thus far rests in their defenses. What a difference a season can make…this year the Bears rank in the bottom five of the league for scoring defense and total yards allowed and that is just NOT GOOD (but the Cowboys isn’t much better).”

With both the NFC East and NFC North divisions respectively still up for grabs, the Boys and the Bears each have enough motivation to clinch a most desperately needed victory on MNF. My guess is whoever has the better defensive play during this match-up will determine the winner.

So please don’t let me down Bears, I know the fans in our section will want to see me high-five my boyfriend in the head multiple times. And on top of that, I’d like to spend the following 364 days reminding him who “America’s team” should REALLY be.”

Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m. CT Monday night a Soldier Field and on ESPN.

 

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Ashley Erin Sellers at Chicago Bears Football 101 Ladies Night

Finally the NFL and the Chicago Bears have realized what we’ve known for a long time:  female football fans exist! With the NFL’s recent onslaught of improved and relevant marketing initiatives geared toward the female demographic, medicine female fans should appreciate the fact that teams and the league have finally begun to realize we respond to different messaging.

An example of how to cater to the female fan was on full display when the Chicago Bears hosted their Meijer Football 101 event on Tuesday night at Soldier Field. The annual event drew more than 700 female fans to the field for a night dedicated to the Chicago Bears legacy and the women that love it.

If you’ve never been to this gathering of Bears female fans, you will definitely want to put it on your radar for next year.  Here’s why:

SDI Founder, Monica Murphy-Vargas sampling Absolut Tune

Women enjoyed taking in the sights of Soldier Field without the normal craziness and crowds of a game day Sunday (or men, for that matter).  Vendors ranging from Absolut to Verizon Wireless were on site for sampling and product information.

Women of all demographics were in attendance and their favorite apparel was in full force.  Apparel stores inside the United Club were also open, enabling female fans to pick-up the latest gear.

Some women donned jerseys (we saw: Forte, Cutler, Marshall, Urlacher and even a couple of Knox) and others took their fashion fandom to a whole new level. Sara of Crystal Lake has made the trek to Soldier Field for Football 101 over six times and she came prepared with her very own “#34 Sweetness stilettos”.  Talk about the best Sportsanista look of the night!

Sara’s “Sweetness” Stilettos

Tours of the Bears locker room and Soldier Field concourse were also highlights of the evening.  While we passed on the autographs (sorry rooks), we weren’t going to miss a tour of iconic Soldier Field.

As we passed along the 100 level concourse, we stopped for pictures as our guide took questions from fans. My personal favorite: Why doesn’t the Chicago Park District fix this field already? Afterward, we were led down into the Bears locker room.  I was as giddy as a school girl knowing that all the great Bears have walked in the same setting and dressed for game day.

Equipment coaches were also on hand with a demo table – showing off their gear in the middle of the locker room and almost all the lockers were empty – except for Brandon Marshall’s – with full gear on display for viewing… and modeling of course.

Clearly future WR material

From the locker room, we headed through the tunnel out onto the field.  It was breathtakingly overwhelming, I could never imagine what it would feel like on game day… stadium packed, lights on running out onto that massive field (that always appears much smaller to the viewer).

Although you couldn’t pass the yellow rope, being on the field and looking up into the stands was a view I will never forget.  (Also, I give Forte mad props for running the field – five yards doesn’t seem like much on TV but when you’re on the field you realize that MAN, it is a lot.)

We had the pleasure of meeting new Bears sideline reporter, Lyndsay Petruny. The Pittsburgh native recently made the move to Chicago and is now a co-host on the Chicago Bears Network (CBN) new entertaining digital program, Inside the Bears as well as a reporter for Bears GameDay Live that airs on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. on FOX32News.

Ashley Erin Sellers, Lyndsay Petruny, Monica Murphy Vargas

I can’t help but think the Bears are catering to more women with programming like Inside the Bears. A perfect dose of lifestyle entertainment and insider access with Bears news, this is a weekly must-hit and one of the new digital programs the Bears have launched on their owned and operated Chicago Bears Network which is produced in house at the studios in Halas Hall.

“It’s been great walking around here tonight among these passionate female fans and I’m excited because many women have come up to me and recognized me from Inside the Bears, which is great to see that women are watching,” said Petruny. “We’ve done some great segments, some really heartfelt stuff that fans will love. We just wrapped up an interview with Virginia McCaskey, we’ve talked to William “the Fridge” Perry, we talk to fans on the street…it’s great to see that fans are watching.”

After the tours and autograph signing commenced, women were invited for the Meijer Bears Football 101 workshop where Jeff Joniak and Tom Thayer emceed a panel of rookies and surprise guest, Josh McCown

Beyond the questions of “Boxers or briefs?” and “Show us your touchdown dance!” (along with repeated screams for Jon Bostic to “TAKE OFF HIS SHIRT!”) there were some great questions that helped further female football knowledge like, “Who does your playing style resemble/emulate?”, “What is a west coast offense; do we have one?” and “How have you prepared for the NFL?”.

One of my favorite questions of the night was geared to McCown and it obviously touched on the Cutler injury debacle and McCown’s recent victory against the Packers.  McCown was poised and classy with his response reiterating that while he never wants to see a player injured, he’s excited about his opportunity and hopes continue to be a team player and contribute to a winning Bear’s team.  (He also claims there is no “bromance” with Cutler – as he’s not sure how to define that term – and while yes, they are friends, it is strictly a working relationship on the field.)

Jon Bostic

As a first time attendee, I can honestly say even as an avid and aware female Bears fan, I think this event is a good bet for any woman that loves the Bears. You don’t have to be a football fanatic to appreciate an event of this caliber. Not only do you get access to areas of Soldier Field that most fans can only dream of, attendees get the chance to really connect with the team and the brand along with hundreds of fellow females that share your passion.

While I know the event is labeled as Football 101 – I definitely think the Bears could take it to the next level and offer a few basic and advanced courses to cater to both female novice fans and aficionados. Once the Bears and the NFL realize that they must take their marketing message to women even further – that one blanket message to her won’t cut it – then I think the opportunity to host truly impactful female targeted events that actually move the needle, will be a reality.

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