Category Archives: Blogs

It’s On Mike Glennon To Open Up Bears’ Running Game

By Chris Emma— (CBS) In the aftermath of his Bears regular-season debut and a hard-fought loss, quarterback Mike Glennon was among those offering praise for rookie running back Tarik Cohen. “Secret’s out,” Glennon said after a 23-17 loss to the Falcons on Sept. 10. The Bears had just unleashed Cohen to the tune of five rushes for 66 yards and eight receptions and a touchdown on 12 targets. Atlanta wasn’t expecting to see the fourth-round pick out of North Carolina A&T lining up all over the field as the most prominent piece to Glennon’s offense. The Bears nearly pulled the upset thanks to Cohen masking their issues offensively. But the words of Glennon also spoke to the Bears’ problem offensively. What more do the Bears have than a secret who’s now on everyone’s scouting report? Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains again stated Wednesday that the Bears are a run-oriented offense, but they haven’t gotten Jordan Howard to the second level. Howard is the single most important piece to this offense, and he can’t get to open field. On the Bears’ 0-2 start, he has rushed a combined 22 times for 59 yards. “The thing is — and I wish there was a better answer — the fact is it was one guy on each play,” Loggains said of Howard’s struggles. “It wasn’t one guy playing poor. We’re going to face overpopulated boxes. We know that. There’s going to be seven, eight guys in the box every time, and we have to execute better. It comes down to that.” The answer to this problem comes with the Bears’ passing game, which is halting the running game. Glennon’s longest completion on the season is for 22 yards. He hasn’t tried to attack a defense over the top, primarily passing within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. In fairness, Glennon hasn’t had the receivers to go deep. The Bears’ hope is that Markus Wheaton can change that against the Steelers on Sunday. With Wheaton, the Bears hope to create “more three-level throws,” Loggains said. That would force the safeties to drop back into coverage, thus opening up the box. But will the Steelers even fret the deep threat from Glennon? Glennon has completed just 21 passes for more than 30 yards in his career, and 13 of those went to receivers named Mike Evans or Vincent Jackson. Wheaton has a good track record of big plays, but those came with Antonio Brown lining up across from him and Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. On Sunday, those two will be on the opposite sideline. Howard set a Bears rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards on 252 carries in 2016, good for a 5.2 yards-per-carry average. He’s averaging 2.7 yards this season after rushing nine times for seven yards in an ugly loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday. There’s new personnel around Howard this season. Glennon is the starter at quarterback, Alshon Jeffery is a Philadelphia Eagle and not the Bears’ big-play threat and the offensive line has been shuffled. “I would definitely just say it’s different,” Howard said Monday during his weekly press availability. “We have so many new pieces, but I don’t have any doubts about us putting it all together.” Cohen has been a key cog to the offense, but he’s now a marked man after that debut against the Falcons. As Glennon said, the secret’s out. This offense must run with Howard. The Bears certainly have fair intentions with their goal of being a run-based offense. They’re still trying to figure out Glennon’s fit in this offense and doing so with a mix at receiver. It would be nice to simply rely on that running game to keep the ball moving, but there’s no complement from the passing game. It’s up to Glennon to open up the box for Howard and Cohen, or else there’s little hope for this offense. Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

Baffoe: Aaron Hernandez’s NFL Accomplice

By Tim Baffoe– (CBS) Andre Waters. Junior Seau. Dave Duerson. Regardless of its high-powered attorneys and alibis that muddy the waters of examination, regardless of the deflections it will provide and the huffy resignation that it can’t stop us from connecting our own biased dots “without all the facts,” football is an accomplice to murder. That football ravages the body has been known since linemen’s crooked fingers were romanticized in NFL Films of yore and Hall of Famers limped to a podium to give an acceptance speech. The NFL’s operation, though, exposed over recent years as the 21st-century’s Big Tobacco, has shown that the league long knew of football’s effects on not only the bodies but the brains of its players and worked to deflect attention from the destructiveness viewers should’ve always assumed from skull-cracking highlight tapes lauded for decades. The latest known casualty of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE, is former New England Patriot and temporarily convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez. On Thursday, it was revealed that Hernandez, who committed suicide in prison in April, had in fact the most severe case of CTE researchers have ever seen in a 27-year-old. According to Hernandez’s lawyer, Jose Baez, his brain showed wear normally seen in brains of ex-players 40 years older than Hernandez. Dr. Ann McKee, director of the CTE Center at Boston University, studied Hernandez’s brain and said that he had “early brain atrophy” in Stage 3 of CTE. From her four-stage categorization of the brain disease:
Those with Stage 3 of C.T.E., including Duerson, a former All-Pro defensive back for the Chicago Bears who killed himself (in 2011), had cognitive impairment and trouble with executive functions like planning and organizing.

The NFL didn’t murder anyone. It just helped manufacture the weapon. Jovan Belcher. Ray Easterling. Justin Strzelczyk. Hernandez was found guilty in 2015 of murdering Odin Lloyd in 2013. It was assumed by many that Lloyd’s death was due to him knowing incriminating information regarding the murders of Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu and Safiro Teixeira Furtado in 2012 for which Hernandez was tried and acquitted five days before his suicide. Hernandez had a distinguished history of violence and connections to it that ran parallel to playing football at the highest levels. Hernandez shouldn’t yet be forgiven for his actions any more than Belcher for his murder of his girlfriend or Duerson for his spousal abuse or the violence committed by any other deceased player, all of whom knew right from wrong while battling a demon they didn’t understand and couldn’t shake. I hesitate to absolve someone suffering from CTE for harming others as I do sufferers of a disease like alcoholism or other chemical dependence. To do so erases victims of that violence. We can’t “Yeah, but…” women subjected to domestic violence at the hands of gigantic professional collision machines. A CTE diagnosis of a murderer doesn’t bring back Kasandra Perkins or Lloyd or Abreu or Furtado, and it won’t comfort their loved ones into thinking, “Oh, well, since they were killed by someone with brain disease, I can rest easier.” “I’m not happy about (Hernandez’s) death,” Abreu’s father, Ernesto, said in April. “It’s actually a shame. Any loss of life is a shame. I believe in leaving things in God’s hands.” Terry Long. Shane Dronett. Paul Oliver. And victims of that violence aren’t unlike the countless injured from second-hand smoke through no fault of their own. Tobacco barons didn’t themselves harm those sick or dead who never themselves took a drag, but they supplied the weapon. This time around the weapon is a helmet, one supposedly designed to protect people but one that often changes them instead. A facemask becomes a permanent mask, a shadow of the former self, the player fretting upon some demented stage away from the field. And then is heard no more, either withered away into darkness or explosively extinguished by his own hand. Hernandez died of violence, violence to himself from unleashing violence upon others between exchanging on-field violence among peers. The third likely contributed to the second which ended in the first. He’s tragic, not in the overused Americanized version of the word but in the dramatic sense. A tragic figure might draw some pity from the audience, but he’s not necessarily forgiven. And there’s often an accomplice, arguably more evil than the tragic figure. The accomplice spurns the other one on, creates him in a way. Brutus has hardly any murder in him before Cassius plants a seed. Macbeth probably doesn’t act on regicide without Lady Macbeth questioning his manhood. Othello is doing just fine before Iago decides to play evil puppeteer. Still, Shakespeare doesn’t ask us to un-convict these men of murder. Nor does he forget to punish the accomplices. Cassius dies by the sword. Lady Macbeth degenerates into madness before suicide. Iago is stabbed in the end, but we don’t witness a last breath. When asked why he lied so profusely to a man to make that man kill his innocent wife, Iago sneers: “Demand me nothing. What you know, you know. / From this time forth I never will speak word.” He won’t admit a damn thing while acknowledging that others can make whatever connections they want. The tobacco CEOs got tight-lipped when in a similar position, too. And we will make connections, ones that the NFL can “Who? Me?” about. If he doesn’t bleed out from his wound, perhaps Iago, who helps create an evil that ripples across multiple dead, recovers to take a job in an NFL office. Hell, Ray Lewis gets a check to do the league’s dirty work. Maybe Hernandez always had this violence in him despite anything football. Like veteran Karl Marlantes says in Ken Burns’ documentary “The Vietnam War,” the military doesn’t turn people into killing machines. “It’s just finishing school.” Hits to the head in a culture of choreographed violence probably help do the same trick. In the end, people are dead. Football has an obvious connection. Again. Besides a lawsuit, the NFL will move on from it all. Again. Until the next one. Again. Aaron Hernandez. Daniel Jorge Correia de Abreu. Safiro Teixeira Furtado. Odin Lloyd. Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.

Gabriel: Did The Bears Make A Mistake In Signing Mike Glennon? Yes

By Greg Gabriel–

(CBS) Not long into free agency back in March, the Bears signed quarterback Mike Glennon to three-year deal that practically speaking was a one-year contract. Given the structure of the contract, it was clear the Bears planned on selecting a quarterback in the draft in April. We just didn’t know who and when. Glennon was set to be the quarterback while the rookie learned the NFL game, and that’s sound reasoning for planning the development of a young quarterback. Those around the league insist Bears general manager Ryan Pace had strong feelings about the talent and future of Glennon when he signed him. Knowing that answers the question as to why the Bears chose to sign Glennon. The question now is, was it the right decision? This is certainly hindsight now, but that’s the perspective we operate from when a signing doesn’t go as well as expected. After the 2016 ended, it soon became clear the Bears weren’t going to retain Jay Cutler. There were other veteran quarterbacks on the roster as well. Brian Hoyer played well last season before he broke his arm. He was followed by Matt Barkley, who was inconsistent at his best. While Hoyer didn’t win games, his numbers were excellent. He completed 134 of 200 passes for 1,445 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions, most importantly. While Hoyer doesn’t possess a great arm, he reads the field well, is a good decision-maker and gets the ball out of his hands quickly. The Bears could move the ball, score and not turn the ball over when he was under center. The Bears have struggled mightily with their passing game this year, as Glennon isn’t a quick processor, has a problem keeping plays alive with his feet, has a slow release and can’t get the ball downfield. When you look at Glennon’s tape with Tampa Bay, you really saw the same tendencies. What the Bears had hoped for was that while he didn’t get playing time in 2015 or 2016, his game had improved with practice reps he and the experience of being in the league longer. We now know they were wrong. Glennon is owed $16 million in this 2017 season, with a salary cap hit of $14 million. Had the Bears chose to keep Hoyer instead, we’d have seen better quarterback play at a considerable savings for the team. Hoyer signed a two-year deal with the 49ers with a cash payout of $7.5 million in 2017, with a cap hit of $5.275 million. That’s considerably less for a player with more talent and production. It could also be argued that Hoyer may have been a better mentor to rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Pace had an affinity for Glennon. I understand that, but he guessed wrong. There isn’t a talent evaluator in the NFL who hasn’t been wrong on some players. When you look at all the decisions Pace has made during both the draft and free agency, he has done a wonderful job. Fans will be quick to point out that 2015 first-round pick Kevin White has done nothing, but that’s because of injuries, not talent. Injuries are an unfortunate hazard of the game. Now that we know Glennon was a mistake, why’s he still playing? I understand the plan, but who gives the Bears the better chance to win in 2017, Glennon or Trubisky? I understand that preseason games don’t come close to presenting the challenge of a regular-season contest, but Trubisky clearly outplayed Glennon in the preseason. I can’t find one advantage that Glennon has over Trubisky other than experience. Is it better for a rookie quarterback to sit and learn? Yes, in most cases. But then when you look at how rookie quarterbacks like Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz played in 2016, we can argue that the time if right for the Bears to turn to Trubisky. They’ll be better off for it. Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who’s an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.

The Bernstein Brief: Where Was Everybody?

By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist (CBS) A beautiful night in Milwaukee on Thursday had the Miller Park roof open so that 41,900 fans could enjoy the first game of a September series between the Brewers and Cubs that could go a long way in deciding the NL Central. It was an ideal evening for Brewers fans to be in full voice, exhorting their young upstarts against the evil empire from across the border in a show of force, and similarly perfect for the usual tide of lighter blue to take advantage of less traffic and more available parking to see their reigning champion Cubs in person. And yet there were plenty of seats to be had. The official tally was 35,114, but the many no-shows in that number were apparent with every TV cutaway that showed a park far less than full. Sun-Times columnist Steve Greenberg tweeted beforehand “At Miller Park, where what looks like < 10,000 Brewers fans are out on a gorgeous night to see their overachieving team take on the #Cubs.” The usual number of Cubs fans were audible and visible, but it was astonishing to see that a team starting a crucial series in an unlikely pennant race couldn’t produce a proper crowd. Some speculate that distatste over visiting fans could be the culprit, which would be a bitter truth indeed. Milwaukee Record writer Kyle Lobner believes that the “Wrigley North” phenomenon has created a double negative there, writing Wednesday that: “Hostile home crowds have become noticeable for the team, clearly apparent on broadcasts and actively serve as a deterrent to many Brewers fans. Local fans’ decisions to avoid the ballpark and/or resell their tickets for Cubs games create a snowball effect, causing more fans to do the same.” So that should mean even more secondary-market value for Cubs fans wanting to make the trip, but there weren’t enough of those to fill the vast swaths of open space, a strange sight for a meaningful and tightly contested game in the heat of both record-setting weather and an unexpected divisional race. Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

Cubs Rally In 9th, Beat Brewers In 10th To Drop Magic Number To 6

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Javier Baez grounded a tying single with two outs in the ninth inning, Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer in the 10th and the Chicago Cubs widened their NL Central lead over Milwaukee, rallying past the Brewers, 5-3, on Thursday night. Chicago is now 4 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers after winning the opener of a four-game series. The Cubs have won eight of nine. The Cubs trailed 3-2 when Ian Happ led off the ninth by hitting a grounder that first baseman Neil Walker fielded wide of the bag. Reliever Jeremy Jeffress covered first and Happ was called safe in a close play, a ruling upheld on replay. Happ moved to second on a one-out grounder and scored when Baez, down to his last strike, singled up the middle. Milwaukee was in position to win it in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with one out. But Wade Davis (4-1) struck out Domingo Santana and then, after falling behind 3-1 in the count to Orlando Arcia, came back to retire him on an easy comebacker on a full-count pitch. Davis struck out the side in the 10th. Jon Jay opened the Cubs 10th with a double and Bryant followed with his 28th homer, connecting off Oliver Drake (3-5). Anthony Rizzo hit a drive off the top of the wall in center and wound up with a triple when a crew chief review showed the ball didn’t leave the park. Santana hit 28th home run in the fourth. He doubled off Justin Wilson in the eighth, stole third and scored on Eric Thames’ single for a 3-2 lead. Jeffress took over the ninth because closer Corey Knebel had pitched three days in a day. On Wednesday night, the Brewers lost at Pittsburgh 6-4 on Adam Frazier’s walk-off homer against Knebel with two outs in the ninth. Cubs starter Jake Arrieta gave up one run and five hits over five innings in his first game since Sept. 4. The 2015 NY Cy Young winner had been sidelined by a strained right hamstring. Kyle Schwarber hit his 29th homer for the Cubs, tagging 17-game winner Zach Davies. Davis went seven innings, giving up two runs. TRAINER’S ROOM Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon says he isn’t worried about LHP Jon Lester, who won his previous three starts before losing 8-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. “I believe in Jon Lester,” Maddon said. “If he’s hurting, and from my knowledge he’s not, I think he’s going to be fine.” UP NEXT Cubs: RHP John Lackey (11-11, 4.62 ERA) looks to rebound from his shortest start of the season (4 2-3 innings) and ejection for arguing balls and strikes Sept. 15 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He is 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 14 career starts against the Brewers. Brewers: RHP Brandon Woodruff (2-2, 2.38 ERA) aims for his fourth quality outing in his seventh career start and first against the Cubs. (© 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)

White Sox Bullpen Covers 8 2/3 innings To Beat Astros

HOUSTON (AP) — Chris Volstad and Chicago’s bullpen covered 8 2/3 innings after starter Carson Fulmer left with a blister, and the White Sox beat the Houston Astros, 3-1, on Thursday night. Volstad (1-0) got his first win since 2012 with the Chicago Cubs. He allowed a run over 4 1/3 innings, and six relievers kept Houston scoreless from there. Juan Minaya worked around two walks in the ninth for his fifth save. Tim Anderson homered to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games, and Kevan Smith added two hits for Chicago. The victory snaps a six-game winning streak for the Astros, who clinched the AL West on Sunday but are still making a push for the league’s best record. Chicago built a 2-0 lead against Dallas Keuchel (13-5) by the third inning. Brian McCann got Houston within 1 on a solo homer in the bottom of the inning. Anderson launched a towering shot to center to begin the eighth inning. He has two homers, three doubles and six RBIs during this streak. Fulmer walked two before leaving because of the blister on his right index finger. Volstad took over and allowed three hits while striking out two. It was the longest relief outing of his career and lowered his ERA to 1.08. Volstad had mostly pitched in Triple-A since making 21 starts with the Cubs in 2012. Avisail Garcia and Smith hit consecutive singles with one out in the second before a two-out single by Willy Garcia loaded the bases. The White Sox took a 1-0 lead when Rymer Liriano walked, but Keuchel struck out the next two batters to limit the damage. Yoan Moncada walked to start the third before a double by Jose Abreu. Garcia drew a walk to load the bases, and Moncada scored when Smith grounded into a double play to make it 2-0. McCann sent Volstad’s first pitch of the third inning into the second deck in right field to cut the lead to 2-1. Keuchel faced the minimum over his last three innings, retiring seven in a row and then getting a double play to end the sixth after a single by Smith with one out in the inning. The left-hander yielded five hits and two runs while walking three in six innings. TRAINER’S ROOM White Sox: DH Matt Davidson was out of the lineup with a low-grade fever. Astros: RHP Lance McCullers could start Sunday after throwing a bullpen session Wednesday. McCullers hasn’t pitched since he was scratched from his scheduled start on Sept. 13 because of arm fatigue. “Obviously the hope is that he’s going to be able to make a start soon but we have a couple of days to decide,” manager A.J. Hinch said. UP NEXT White Sox: Reynaldo Lopez (2-3, 4.84 ERA) will start for Chicago in the opener of a three-game series against Kansas City on Friday. Lopez allowed seven hits and four runs in seven innings of a win over Detroit in his last start. Astros: Justin Verlander (13-8, 3.50) is scheduled to start for Houston in the first of three games against the Angels on Friday. Verlander is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA and 26 strikeouts in three starts since being traded from the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 31. (© 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)  

Bears’ Kyle Long Practices In Full For First Time This Season

By Chris Emma– LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Bears guard Kyle Long described the hold-up in his return to the practice field like pilots going through their pre-flight check list. Finally, it seems he’s ready for takeoff. Long practiced in full Thursday for the first time since suffering a ligament damage in a gruesome ankle injury last November. He had surgery to repair the ligament damage shortly after and had been rehabbing back with the goal of playing in the regular-season opener. However, that hope was derailed after suffering a setback in August while pushing too hard, as he revealed Wednesday at Halas Hall. “I was going to be ready to go during training camp and I tried to do some stuff, and I think I went a little fast,” Long said. “So, back to the patience. It’s like when you have your two pilots at the front of your plane and they’re going through all their checklists pre-flight. The last thing you want to do is have a guy who just gets in and turns the engine on and says, ‘Let’s go.’ You want to make sure everything is checked off before you go down the runway.” With Long returning, it remains to be seen how the Bears will handle their offensive line against the Steelers on Sunday. Right guard Josh Sitton (ribs) didn’t participate in practice Thursday while reserve guard Tom Compton was limited with a hip injury. The Bears played Compton in Long’s spot at left guard and slid Bradley Sowell in at right guard after the injury to Sitton in a loss to the Buccaneers last Sunday. The Bears return to practice Friday at Halas Hall for one more full-go before Sunday’s game. It’s likely that final determinations will be made 90 minutes prior to kickoff with the inactives list. Thursday’s injury report listed Sitton and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (chest) as not practicing due to injury. Compton (hip), defensive lineman Akiem Hicks (shoulder), running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) and receiver Kendall Wright (shoulder) were limited in work. The Bears did get cornerback Prince Amukamara, running back Benny Cunningham and quarterback Mark Sanchez back to full participation along with Long. Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.