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Where Art Thou, Scott Skiles?

Posted by sportsmaven on December 26, 2007

It’s the day after Christmas and Scott Skiles has left the building, be it the United Center, The Berto Center, or any other official Chicago Bulls facility in the greater Chicagoland area. Fired by the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Eve (memo to Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf: try not to fire personnel on holidays or eve of holidays, it makes your team management look very insensitive), Coach Skiles was spared the agony of having to deal with this dysfunctional Bulls team. Oh, and don’t feel so bad for Coach Skiles — he walked away with $7M in compensation, which negates any ill feelings over the timing of his termination.

Scott Skiles is Fired As Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls team that Scott Skiles leaves is certainly better than the one he inherited, but the larger question remains — what direction is this team heading? Like the Doug Collins firing in the late 80’s, the Bulls (and GM John Paxson, I might add) are at a crossroads. They have some fine young talent, but no clear floor leader or go-to guy that can take the heat off of everyone else. G Ben Gordon and F Luol Deng look foolish every day of lacksidasical, underachieving day that passes. The extensions that were offered look so much better in the light of poor, uninspired play.

Don’t think for a moment that this is the last move that Paxson makes, because if he doesn’t make wholesale changes to this roster, he may not be around to make any more changes…..oh, and by the way, welcome back to the interim coaching ranks, Pete Myers. Your reward? A date with the defending NBA Champions, the San Antonio Spurs.

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Bears Lay An Egg On National TV

Posted by sportsmaven on December 18, 2007

If you haven’t already realized it, the Chicago Bears are officially a national embarrassment. Tonight’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings wasn’t a decisive Vikings victory in the least. In fact, it appeared to me that the Vikings were a little less inept that the Bears, in pulling out a 20-13 victory on Monday Night Football.

Kyle Orton starts for Bears on Monday night

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Tonight was QB Kyle Orton’s 2007 coming out party and he was OK tonight. He didn’t get any help tonight from anyone on the offensive side of the ball. To fully explain how painfully horrible this game was for the Bears, consider the following:

  • The Vikings turn the ball over 4 times, including their first two possessions of the game, with Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson throwing 3 of the most ugly interceptions seen as well as helping RB Adrian Peterson fumble a handoff.
  • The Vikings muff an extra point attempt after their 3rd quarter touchdown
  • The Bears are +3 in turnover differential and STILL lose
  • The Bears miss 5 tackles on one play, resulting in a 71 yard completion to Vikings WR Robert Ferguson, the longest reception of his 8 year career.
  • The Bears commit 11 penalties for 95 yards, many on false starts and holding calls on the offensive line.

I really don’t know what to say about the Bears team as a whole. This season has been a colossal collapse from all aspects of the game, save the special teams, K Robbie Gould, and WR/KR Devin Hester, most notably. The offensive line is getting worse week to week, not being able to run block all season (the Bears are dead last in the NFL in rushing) and not pass blocking much better. The offensive rushing game lacks explosion, consistency (other than being consistently horrible). The offense on the whole misses too many blocks, too many unforced errors, and mental mishaps. Too many 3 and outs, killing the effectiveness of the defense. Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner is definitely on the hot seat in Chicago.

On the defensive misses too many tackles, too many undisciplined jumps out of gap coverage, players out of position, too vulnerable to cutback runs and cutback moves, can’t prevent the big plays. The Bears may be looking at the potential of two new coordinators next season.

The Bears are hitting new lows each week and there are so many holes to fix on this team that it’s becoming a full blown rebuilding project. The worse the Bears play, the more the feeling is that last year’s Super Bowl run was a fluke. Next year isn’t looking so hot after a bad Monday night loss to a not so good Vikings team.

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Bears Can Win On National TV

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

22After the Dallas Cowboys160167 game a couple of weeks ago, I began to doubt whether or not the Chicago Bears 161168had a jinx of their own. It seems as though the Bears can’t win a game on national television. The Bears record on Monday Night Football has been an atrocious 18-32 going into the 2007 season. Their record on Sunday Night Football has been a little better, 2-1 going into last night’s game with the undefeated Green Bay Packers162169.

Bears Beat Packers 27-20

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

With the Cubs death spiral in the playoffs, as well as the 1-3 start for the Bears, going into last night’s game, many thought it would be a long winter for sports in Chicago. After the first two drives, it was going to be a REALLY long winter, as the Bears looked about as bad as you could look. But they were still in the game, trailing only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and 17-7 going into halftime. The Packers somehow couldn’t get past the Bears, keeping them in the game with turnovers, penalties, and mistakes.

ESPN made some references to airing Lovie Smith’s halftime speech to the Bears, but it never made any mention of it after that teaser and I fell asleep waiting for it, so I never got to see it, but whatever he said, it must have worked, as the Bears finally showed up in the second half, played good football, and won the game 27-20.170

I have to admit that the Bears didn’t look very dominant in any phase of the game last night. They looked over-matched both offensively and defensively in the first half. The defense came out much tougher in the second half and the offense did just enough to capitalize on sloppy play by the Packers, but I felt that the the outcome wasn’t so much a Bears victory as it was a Packers loss. I am still not convinced that the offense is much better than it was. Bears QB Brian Griese171 had a good game and the Bears TE had great games. (Finally — TE Greg Olsen172 gets involved and it pays off!)

The Bears defense needs some work, as they let the Packers run on them all night. They did a great job of picking it up in the second half, but I have yet to see the Bears play a complete game this season and we are entering week 6. I am optimistic that the Bears are moving in the right direction and the Packers win was the biggest of the season. We have the Minnesota Vikings173 at home this week and we need to make this game our next make or break game of the week. At 2-3 we are still 2 games behind the Packers and need to close ground every week now. Like it or not, every divisional game is a must-win, that’s the situation we’re in.2

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Chicago Cubs Get Swept Out of 2007 Playoffs

Posted by sportsmaven on October 8, 2007

222Somewhere, somehow, Lou Piniella is sitting back, scratching his head, wondering if it was the goat after all. The Chicago Cubs160168 were ushered out of the playoffs on Saturday night with a resounding thud, as they lost Game 3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks161169, 5-1, sealing their fate once again, bringing the championship drought to 99+ years and counting. Fate was sealed when Cubs P Rich Hill’s 162170first pitch of the game to Diamondbacks CF Chris Young163171 was golfed into the left field bleachers. Four double plays later, the Cubs were left with memories of 2007 and the “Wait ‘Til Next Year” cry.

Cubs Lose To

(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Watching this series, I was totally shocked at how the Cubs did absolutely nothing to merit winning even one game. Their defense was flawless in the series, otherwise, offensively, they were a complete no-show. The Cubs big 3 hitters had exactly 0 RBI. Outside of Carlos Zambrano, Cubs starting pitching was not very good. I liked how Cubs C Geovanny Soto172 competed, cementing his position as Cubs starting catcher for next season.

Outside of a nice run in June/July, the Cubs season was woefully short on good, sound, fundamental baseball. They didn’t do the little things to win games on a consistent basis. They didn’t do things like bunt very well, advance baserunners, didn’t show good discipline at the plate, run the bases well, or any of the other little things that a team like the Arizona Diamondbacks did to win the NLDS.

This has got to change for 2008 if the Cubs plan on ending the championship drought. When you do the little things, all of a sudden breaks start going your way. You get a couple more calls, you work yourself out of jams, the big hit gets you runs. My big wish for the 2008 Cubs is that their baseball IQ triples, that they take care of the little things. Oh, a closer and a power hitting RF wouldn’t hurt either.

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