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Jermaine Kearse Game Winning TD vs GB

Jermaine Kearse Game Winning TD vs GB

In the wake of “Deflate Gate” and anticipation of the Super Bowl Sunday, it is time to reflect on the NFC Championship game that transpired last Sunday. No matter who you pledge your football allegiance to, that was one of the most improvable come back wins in recent memory.

With that being said, Bears Nation exhaled as Jermaine Kearse caught a perfectly thrown ball by Russell Wilson for a 35-yard game winning TD against Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers and the Pack were sent home after a 28 – 22 OT loss to the defending champs with nothing to show for it except a Bear-like meltdown.

Yipee… Packers pissed their opportunity to play in the Super Bowl right down their leg.

I understand that Bears fan would rather eat ketchup on their hot dogs then see the Packers win, but THIS type of loss takes away from a tradition that Bears fans are so accustom to seeing from their team… a tradition aptly named, a “Bears Loss.”

Whether it is Marion Barber fumbling while trying to run out the clock or Jay Cutler throwing 4 inceptions against a sub-500 team, a “Bears Loss” was one of the only thing the Bears had going for it that the Packers couldn’t touch.

They have Aaron Rodgers and a ring, you have a 42 – 21 loss in 2013 against a Kellen Clemens-lead Rams team who hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004. This Rams game is one of the many instances where fans were left asking themselves, “How did we lose that game?”

Brandon Bostick misplays SEA onside Kick

Brandon Bostick misplays SEA onside kick

Like AA, steps have to occur to validate whether or not a game can be considered a “Bears loss.” First step: be overcome with an uncontrollable anger that can only be expressed thru social media. Second step: pointing a finger at anything and everything that may have resulted in your team’s loss. Third step: and the most important, realizing your team had everything to do with their own demise and it is time to start preparing for next year.

Check, check and check for Cheese land.

By no means am I suggesting that Bears fans should have been rooting for the Packers to win the game, but they should have been rooting for them not to lose like their ‘The Beloved’.

One of the following situations would be considered a ‘bad loss’ but all of them in one game… now that’s a “Bears Loss.”

  • 2 red zone appearance in the first 8 minutes of the game for only 6 points
  • Fake FG TD pass given up
  • Julius Peppers waving Morgan Burnett to get down after an interception
  • Not capitalizing off of 4 interceptions
  • Brandon Bostick onside kick miscue
  • Successful 2 pt. conversion by Seahawks

Aaron Rodgers and Olivia Munn

The Chicago Bears had cornered the market on ridiculous losses and could puff out their chests as they waltz their way into last place in the NFC North. But the Packers had to 1-up them… again. They couldn’t just lose like everybody else and go home to their decently attractive Olivia Munn-like women… they had to make it an ALL-TIMER which cut into the Bears market share!

Usually a “Bears Loss” in a NFC Championship game would haunt a franchise for years to come, but with Aaron Rodgers at the wheel, I would imagine the Packers will make it to the ‘Ship in the next couple of years.

But if they don’t… I will be referencing this game once Rodgers retires.


Packers Seahawks



Derrick Rose came ready to play on Thursday night and prove to the national audience watching on television that he is still one of the best point guards in the league.

Entering Thursdays matchup against the San Antonio Spurs Rose had averaged 24.0 ppg on .484 shooting in his previous six games. The Bulls on the other hand were not playing so hot-losing six of their last eight. However,Thursday night just may have been the breakout game Chicago needed, and the proof that Rose can still lead a team that the critics needed to see.

Rose led the Bulls with 22 points on 9-15 shooting and ignited the early spark by getting to the rim, rather than settling for jump shots in the first half. The result? The Bulls beat the defending champion, San Antonio Spurs (27-17) 104-81 and played arguably their best game of the season.

The win could not have come at a better time for Chicago (28-16), who lost on Monday night in Cleveland, which resulted in Rose calling out his team, and a player-coach-meeting with Tom Thibodeau.

“I said what I had to say, and I think my teammates took it to heart” Rose said after Thursday nights win. “That was my first time ever doing that, and it showed tonight that guys were a little bit composed.”

It was not only Rose who came to compete against San Antonio. All five starters would score in double figures and Aaron Brooks came off the bench to score 15 points in 24 minutes. While it was a nice win- to get the Bulls back on track, coach Thibodeau still had to address the rumors of being on the “hot seat” after the Bulls recent struggles, and reports he may have lost the locker room.

“As I told you yesterday, I could care less, couldn’t care less, and I don’t think our team couldn’t care less about that stuff,” Thibs said.

Well, maybe Thibodeau did not have much to say about the issue, but Rose stuck up for his coach after the game.

“This don’t have anything to do with Thibs at all,” Rose said. “The way that we’ve been playing don’t have anything to do with Thibs. He’s preparing us right. He’s doing everything and did everything possible to prepare us as a coach. It is up to the players to give that effort.”

Even Spurs head coach Greg Popovich had to answer questions about Thibodeau.

“He’s not gonna lose any team,” Popovich said before the game. “I think you guys just have to have stories. So somebody loses a few games, there’s got to be a reason. I guess that’s the one that was picked. Sometimes players listen to me. Timmy stopped listening to me a long time ago. I don’t even coach him. You guys think I’m kidding. He just plays. I talk to him once in a while, but sometimes some guys don’t want to hear it”

Popovich clearly did not want to talk about problems in Chicago when he has his own team to deal with and a NBA Title to defend this season. Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 16 points but was held scoreless in the second half. Leonard also had the tough task of guarding a focused Derrick Rose and struggled to keep up with the former MVP who would score 14 of his 22 points in the paint.

Jimmy Butler also had a nice bounce back game after a two week slump, scoring 17 points and Pau Gasol— who was named a starter on the Eastern Conference All Star Team added 12 points and 16 rebounds. The Bulls will travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks Friday night.

Post Game Audio below.


Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium

I took advantage of some frequent flyer miles and a break in my schedule to head east to North Carolina and visit some hallowed hoops ground down on Tobacco Road.

The UNC Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils had back-to-back home basketball games against Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh, respectively. Over the years, I’ve seen countless games on television played at each venue, but I didn’t quite know what to expect being there in person. My feeling was that Cameron Indoor Stadium was small and the fans, the “Cameron Crazies” are just that, and that the Tar Heels have a pretty good basketball heritage.


Banners in the rafters at the Dean Smith Center

In Chapel Hill, my most indelible moment came the minute I entered the arena and was struck by the dozens of banners hanging in its rafters, celebrating the school’s numerous national titles (five) and the incredible number of great players that starred there. Outside of perhaps UCLA and Kentucky, I don’t know of another program that can come close to matching UNC’s success on the hardwood. The Dean Dome is large, and more of a typical NBA arena, but you can see and feel the history from the banners in the rafters.  Despite its size (21,750 capacity) it maintains the atmosphere of a college venue and the student section is rowdy, providing a definitive home court advantage. Everywhere you look you see Carolina Blue, from the seats to the players’ uniforms.


Duke students erect tents to camp out for tickets to the upcoming Carolina game.

At Duke, one of the neat things I encountered happened as I walked from the parking lot to Cameron, and passed through “Krzyzewski-ville,” where the undergraduate students were already camped out for tickets for the highly anticipated game against rival North Carolina. That game doesn’t take place until February 18!!!

Once inside, I sat courtside opposite the visitors’ bench. The students certainly make their presence known. The heckling of the opponent begins during warmups. The cheering goes non-stop the entire game too, which the Blue Devils won, 79-65, giving coach Mike Krzyzewski his 999th victory.


Sitting close to the action at Cameron Indoor Stadium

I was little surprised to see how the student seating worked. There are literally no actual seats.  It was basically a metal standing area that fills up some ninety minutes before tipoff.  They were literally breathing down my neck, positioned no more than a foot behind me. Their constant screams had my ears ringing.

Now that I’ve experienced both places, I can say firsthand that it’s a pilgrimage any college hoops fan would relish.

Tagged: UNC and Duke Basketball

Russell Wilson talks about the NFC Championship win

Russell Wilson talks about the NFC Championship win

with Dave Rusch and Steve Leventhal

….Steve can only sit by helplessly as Packer Dave uses the radio show to crawl out of that deep dark pit of despair, by ranting and raving, following the Packer loss to Seattle in the NFC Championship game.  Not withstanding the fact that every other radio, television, and newspaper scribe has already weighed in on this subject.  It’s the catharsis that Dave needs to head into the other Packer season – waiting for next year.

Hear interviews from the winners, Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll, Tom Brady, and Bill Belichick.  Hear from the losers, Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rogers, and Andrew Luck.

Plus, don’t miss cameos from Jeff Foxworthy, Bob Costas, and Len Dawson.

20150115-tom-bradywith Dave Rusch and Steve Leventhal

Join us on the Weekend Sports Report for a preview of the NFC and AFC Championships of 2015 with guest Fred Wallin from Sports Byline USA. We will also discuss the newest coaching hires in the NFL, and Ohio State’s surprising win over Oregon in the College Football Championship game.

Hear interviews with Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Pete Carroll, Tom Brady, Pats WR Julian Edelman, and Indy coach Chuck Pagano.

Plus, catch a cameo from Brent Musberger.


Illinois Head Coach John Groce

Illinois Head Coach John Groce

Familiarity was running rampant thru Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday night as the Northwestern Wildcats took on their neighbors to the south, the University of Illinois Illini.

The familiarity vibe could have been attributed to the game, as the Cats and Illini were meeting up for the 170th time… with Illinois holding a commanding 130 – 39 lead in the series.


The yearly meeting in Evanston when households are split because Mom went to NU and Dad went to U of I… and no matter who wins, Dad will be sleeping on the couch tonight.

The above were all expected events but running into 2 high school teammates at the same game, one who played for the Cats (Jeff Ryan) and the other who now has a cat (Paul Shaer)… was something new but felt familiar all at the same time.

The last familiar sight was the final tally on the scoreboard, as Illinois was able to pull away from NU for the win.

ILL 72, NU 67 Final

ILL 72, NU 67 Final

The first half was very sloppy by NU as they turned the ball over 6 times but it felt like 20 because they gave away their early 5 point lead. Bryant McIntosh and Alex Olah were the only bright spots for the Cats all night as McIntosh dropped 16 points while adding 2 dimes. Olah filled the stat sheet with 14 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.

Illinois’ back court came out on fire as Aaron Crosby and Kendrick Nunn combined for 27 of the Illini’s 37 first half points while shooting 7 – 13 from 3 point land. Crosby and Nunn’s shooting help Illinois establish a 37 – 33 lead over the home team.

Northwestern made a valiant effort at the end of the game but came up short as Malcolm Hill hit 2 free throws to put the game out of reach. Illinois took some terrible shots and took their foot off the gas towards the end of the game but were able to squeak by with a 5 point victory.

“That’s life in the Big Ten… you play tough hard fought games, they come down to a possession here and a possession there and that is what it was again. It was 1 point game with 4 sec to go and Nunn walks up to makes four big free throws. Got to give them credit but we got to move forward,” Coach Collins said after his team’s lose to Illinois. “It’s about finding ways to win and that is the next step for us as a team.”

Wes Evans (Left), Jeff Ryan (Center) and Paul Shaer (Right)

Wes Evans (Left), Jeff Ryan (Center) and Paul Shaer (Right)

The Cats finished with 11 turnovers and Illinois was able to capitalize with 14 points off of those TOs. For NU fans, the inconsistent play from their team has been frustrating because this team has potential to win these close contests.

Paul commented after the game that we should call up Luke Holthaus and Kevin Bulger to run fives against this Northwestern team. I believe he was being factious but his point was made, as it is obvious Chris Collins has some work to do if his team is going to pick up another win in the conference soon.

The Cats dropped their 3rd straight game and head to Ann Arbor on the 17th for their next game against the Michigan Wolverines (10-7, 3-2).

Coach Collins talks about the Illinois Northwestern game and how his team is coming up short 


Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

It only took me two classes in high school to realize that science was not for me and my time would better be spent on other subjects… like girls or sports.

I would go thru the motions because it was a necessary evil and there was nothing I could do about it. If I knew that my Trivia Crack score in the science category would be so low, I would have made more of an effort learning about E = MC².

My gaming woes and pure scientific ineptitude is not the purpose of this article but the lackluster enthusiasm I had for science is equivalent to the Bulls attitude towards their match up against the Orlando Magic.

From the opening tip, the Bulls appeared to be going thru the motions and didn’t have the intensity fans are used to seeing from a Tom Thibodeau coached team. The Magic jumped out to a 29 – 21 lead, on 61% shooting and dishing out 8 assist as a team.

Derrick Rose scared the crowd for a couple of seconds when he went down after a Victor Oladipo foul in the 2nd quarter. Rose was quiet for most of the night but had some explosive plays in the 4th quarter to finish with 18 points and 7 assists.

Rose still hasn’t played a complete game but shows spurts when he gains some confidence after hitting a couple shots. If the Bulls want to make a run for a title, Rose will need to be attacking for 48 minutes when it is June.

Nikola Vucevic was determined on being the best Nikola in the building tonight, as he finished with 33 points, as he was 16 – 24 from the floor and added 11 rebounds. Vucevic was completely destroying Pau Gasol on the offensive side of the court all game and capped off the 3rd quarter with a massive dunk over Gasol.

Magic C Nikola Vucevic

Magic C Nikola Vucevic

Please find the highlight on the internet… it’s that good… search Vucevic makes Gasol look like a small boy and it should pop right up.

Entering the 4th quarter, the Bulls trailed by 15 and were never able to overcome their 1st half deficit. Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson did their best to breathe some life back into their team but it was too little too late.

The Bulls have an unhealthy reliance of coming back in the fourth quarter and this time they fell short.

I was able to pass my science class and move on from the mind numbing world of neutrons and electrons. For the Bulls, they have to contemplate the theory of relativity of the NBA season for a couple more months.

See what I did there?

Tom Thibodeau questions his teams edge after the Bulls Magic game




Ice Bowl I - in 1967

Ice Bowl I – in 1967

with Dave Rusch and Steve Leventhal

…The Packers prepare for what is being dubbed “Ice Bowl II.” Well perhaps in the Dallas press, but we have complete coverage of this colossal tilt in Titletown.  Jeff Rich from joins us to analyze all the NFL playoff matchups, and a quick peek at the College Football championship game.

Plus, we have interview audio from Mike McCarthy, Clay Matthews, DeMarco Murray, Pete Carroll, Ron Rivera, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Peyton Manning, and Andrew Luck.

But wait, there’s more – cameos from Chris Berman and Hall of Famer Len Dawson.  All on this episode of The Weekend Sports Report.

Wisconsin Northwestern Final 81-58

Wisconsin Northwestern Final 81-58

It was a series of ‘last time events’ during Northwestern’s Big Ten home-opener against Wisconsin, Sunday night in Evanston, Illinois.

The most notable, it was the last time that Chicagoland star and Wisconsin senior forward Frank Kaminsky would be playing at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Lisle native and Benet Academy graduate, lead his team to a 29 – 1 record his senior year with the help of current NU guard Dave Sobolewski.

Kaminsky had an efficient game, scoring 16 points in 24 minutes of play, as his team established an early lead and never looked back. Kaminsky dished out 6 assist and pulled down 10 rebounds, which gave him his 7th double-double of the season to lead the Big Ten. The Cats are looking forward to not having to deal with the 7 footer in the future, as he will go into the NBA draft after this season.

Wisconsin F Frank Kaminsky

Wisconsin F Frank Kaminsky

The offensive star of the game was Badgers forward Sam Dekker, who was 4 – 6 from the 3 point line and added a couple of dunks. Dekker finished with 16 points and was the main reason Wisconsin had a 43 – 21 lead going into the half.

NU came in 1 – 0 in Big Ten action after their victory over Rutgers last Tuesday but that might be the last time this year the Cats will have a winning record during conference play.

The Cats next 5 opponents will be difficult matchups with trips to Michigan State, Michigan and Maryland… there will be no rest for the weary as NU gets in to the teeth of their season. Coach Collins team is relatively young so gaining experience in these conference games will boost McIntosh, Law and Lumpkin’s confidence going into next year.

Speaking of Coach Collins… It will be the last time his coaching record will be over .500. Collins came into tonight’s game with a 24 – 23 record and with the loss it will bring it exactly at 24 – 24. Collins knew that it was going to take a while for him to build a winning program but Cats fans should be excited with what he has done in 1+ seasons.

Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan

Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan

“I saw a lot of men on their team… understand guys it’s a process… they’re a developmental program… they develop guys, they work, they get better and you see a finished product. Kaminsky wasn’t like that as a freshman,” Coach Collins commented on the Badgers, “Let’s put a couple years of experience and strength on McIntosh, Law and Lindsay and add some more piece and let’s see where we are.”

NU is emulating Bo Ryan’s blue print for building a contending Big Ten basketball team as each school preaches defense and patient basketball while expecting their players to play smart on both ends of the court. The Cats are just lacking in the recruiting department and hope that Collins can bridge that gap in the upcoming years.

The Cats go on the road next week as they travel to East Lansing to take on Coach Izzo’s Michigan State squad.

Coach Collins on future of Northwestern’s program and Bo Ryan’s success  




The Chicago Bulls came into Saturdays home matchup against the Boston Celtics short handed and uncertain on who would be in the starting five. Wings Mike Dunleavy and Jimmy Butler both missed Saturdays game but lucky for Chicago, Pau Gasol showed up as usual.

Gasol scored 29 points and added 16 rebounds and 5 blocked shots and reserve forward Nikola Mirotic chipped in ten points and 8 rebounds to help the Bulls escape the Celtics 109-104 in overtime.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau would not name the Bulls starters until about an hour before tipoff and when he finally did it was announced Mirotic would be making his first start at the small forward position.

” I thought overall ( Mirotic) did very well. Thibodeau said after the game. ” He didnt shoot the ball great, but he made alot of great plays. He spaced the floor well. He has been working hard in practice and has been developing confidence there. I thought he made alot of good plays to get Pau going too which helped us get established inside.”

Besides Mirotic moving over from his original power forward position to make an impact saturday, Gasol was his usual self, playing 38 minutes and shooting 9-16 from the floor.

” ( Pau) is unbelievable. We see it night after night” Thobodeau added. “All the things he does on both sides of the court. He had a 9 blocked shot game, then to follow it up with a 5 blocked shot game. He got many rebounds, and got to the free throw line. The way he plays it gives your team alot of confidence”.

In what was a sloppy game by both teams, The Celtics hung around late in the fourth quarter thanks to Chicago native, Evan Turners game high 28 points on 12-20 shooting— including 4-5 from 3 point land. After trading buckets, the Celtics would tie the game at 99 with 2.6 seconds to play off a Jared Sullinger ( 16 points, 13 rebounds) put-back basket. Chicago would call a timeout and draw up a perfectly executed open shot for Aaron Brooks, that would fall just short. Despite the hot shooting of Turner, the Celtics (11-20) would not be able to hang with the Bulls in the extra period.

” We left too many situation points on the floor. We got out-rebounded and I made a mistake and threw the ball away” Turner said when asked what went wrong in overtime. I misjudged Green and Hinrich ran right past it. It was my fault. ”

Despite the loss, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from Turner and the effort his young team put up against one of the Eastern Conferences powerhouse units.

” The best part of ( Turners) game was that he did not have a good first half and he had a great second half” Stevens said in his post game press confrence. ” He put us on his backs for a little bit in the second half”

Speaking of putting his team on his back, Gasol, who was once again brillant— has not only become a force on the court, but in the locker room as well. Thibodeau said after the game that Gasol’s ” actions speak louder than words”

” Pau has been great” Joakim Noah added on saturday. ” He has been huge for us all season. He is one of the constants every-night. His offensive game is really big for us.”

Through 31 games, Gasol is averaging 18 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks and the Bulls are 24-10 and in first place in the Central. However this season the Bulls have their sights on more than just regular season accolades.

Notes from Saturday nights game…

– Jimmy Butler ( bereavement leave) and Mike Dunleavy ( right ankle) sat out

– Aaron Brooks scored 19 points of the bench. He has now scored in double figures eight of his last ten games.

– With Saturdays win, the Bulls have now won nine of their last 10 overall and eight of their last nine home games.

– Chicago pulled down a season high 24 offensive rebounds and out rebounded the Celtics 59-45.

Bears owner Virginia McCaskey

Bears owner Virginia McCaskey

The McCaskey’s decided to clean house last week again after their Chicago Bears missed the playoffs for the 4th straight year. Ex-Bears GM Phil Emery brought in Marc Trestman 2 years ago to close the gap between the Packers and the Bears. That decision had the reverse effect, by widening the talent gap and costing Emery/Trestman their jobs.

For a synopsis of a possible reboot plan for the Bears, check out Ryan Horvat’s article by clicking here.

The Bears had the opportunity to play against 4 of the 6 teams that made the playoffs for the NFC this year during the regular season… they went 0 – 6.

The Bears are now in a rebuilding mode, but how would this Bears squad fair against this year’s NFC playoff teams?

Bears vs Panthers: The Panthers are a sub .500 playoff team that the Bears would have a shot of beating if they met this year in the playoffs. Even though the Panthers are on a 4 game winning streak and beat the Bears in their week 5 matchup, they would be able to contend with the Panthers. Even with Carolina getting healthy and with Luke Kuechly and co. are returning to form, the Bears should have been able to beat the Panthers if they met in the playoffs.

Panther LB Luke Kuechly

Panther LB Luke Kuechly

Bears vs Cardinals: The Cardinals are the surprise team of 2014, as they were able to replace the 49ers in the playoff picture in the NFC. The Bears would not have been able to play with this team if Carson Palmer was healthy but with Drew Stanton/Ryan Lindley throwing the rock, the Bears could have competed. Although, a Patrick Peterson pick-6 or a Calais Campbell sack fumble of Jay Cutler could throw this Bears team into a downward spiral, the Cardinals are the only other team the Bears “could” beat if they met them in the playoffs.

Bears vs Cowboys: The 2012 Cowboys are the Bears of today, an underachieving franchise with no identity. The 2014 Cowboys decided to assemble one of the best o-lines in the NFL and hand the ball off to DeMarco Murray 25+ times a game to relieve pressure on Tony Romo. Dallas was another team the humiliated the Bears on primetime and I see no reason why they wouldn’t do it again… The Cowboys have the blueprint for the Bears to follow but is it too late to turn this circus around?

Bears vs Lions: The Lions are the Bears but have a way better defense… and can run the ball. The Lions start a questionable QB who makes dumb throws but gets bailed out by the best WR in the game, Calvin Johnson. The Lions are still the Lions and I expect them to reveal themselves this weekend against the Cowboys, but they have the Bears number in 2014 and would make easy work of them if they were to meet again. Not only do the Bears have to worry about the Packers, the Lions have leapfrogged the Bears to become the 2nd best team in the NFC North.

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers

Bears vs Packers: When you have the best QB in the game and he rarely turns the ball over, it makes football easy. The Packers were laughing at the end of their last matchup with the Bears and I would expect the laughs to get louder, if they were to meet in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears and Jay Cutler, even with a sore calf, Rodgers would put up 5 TDs. It is disheartening for Bears fans to watch their neighbors to the north have so much success, but what do they expect when their ‘Beloved’ draft and sign the wrong players?

Bears vs Seahawks: This game would be a massacre. The Seahawks are better at every phase of life… the Bears would have their teeth kicked in and lunch money stolen before Jay Cutlers sideline demeanor was questioned by the broadcasters. I personally thank my luck stars this game never happened.

Best case scenario, the Bears could have contented with 2 out of the 6 playoff teams but the reality is they are exactly where they are supposed to be… at home.



The Bears will once again search for a new Head Coach.

The Bears will once again search for a new Head Coach.

Black Monday escalated rather quickly and before you could even finish your breakfast the Bears had fired General Manager Phil Emery and Head Coach Marc Trestman. The only person who may have been surprised by this move would be Trestman himself.

After Sundays season ending loss to the Vikings, Trestman told reporters he expected to be back next season and in his usual soft, shaky tone made a case why he should be back in control.

“ I don’t have to go into the reasons that I expect to be back, I couldn’t look at it any other way or with any other kind of focus” Trestman said in his last post-game interview as head coach of the Bears, and while it was the right decision it should and will not be the only change we see.

The Bears should have paid attention to the 3:25 slot after their embarrassing loss. The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions were in a week 17 war for the NFC North crown and a first round BYE in the playoffs. The Bears were playing in a similar matchup just one year ago, week 17. The Bears went from a team on the rise to the embarrassment of the league in the matter of 12 months.

To once again be competitive and taken serious throughout the league, the Bears need to cut ties with the players who are not willing to buy into (yet) another new system and start over. That does not necessarily mean Jay Cutler will be gone however.

While Cutler is clearly not an elite quarterback and will most likely never lead a team to a championship on talent alone, is it worth giving up a top draft pick just to trade him elsewhere? Since the Bears have chosen to go through the rebuilding process, they will want to keep as many picks as possible and does it really matter who’s behind center during a losing season anyway? Not to mention Cutler gives the Bears the best opportunity to win if they are going to attempt to rebuild on the fly. The 2015 quarterback draft class is full of prospects and no proven stars and the Bears most likely wont have a shot at landing Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston. I would be very surprised if Cutler was throwing interceptions anywhere else next season and expect him back in Chicago with another new coordinator and head coach.

The Bears should consider cutting ties with Brandon Marshall, unless they can find a head coach who can control his antics. Marshall called out Cutler after a loss to the Lions earlier in the season and has challenged two people publicly to boxing matches in the last few months. Trestman clearly could not control Marshall, allowing him to fly to New York to do a weekly appearance on Showtime’s “ Inside the NFL” and sign his contract extension on “ the View.” If the Bears want to start fresh they need to get rid of all the off the field drama and antics that were never in the locker room during the glory days of Bears football.

While Marshall is one of the top receivers in the league when healthy and mentally prepared, the Bears need to start building their team from within— through the NFL Draft and with guys who understand the concept of playing “ team football” and don’t concern themselves with outside careers or restaurants ( Lance Briggs) during the season.

Football is the ultimate team sport and for the Bears to succeed they need to add a coaching staff with some experience to preach that. It is time to stop hiring guys with no head coaching experience and pray that they learn on the fly. If that option is not available and the Bears cannot land a former head coach, they should at least consider a coordinator who’s last job was in the United States… Personally I feel Rex Ryan never had any backing in New York and would be a great fit for Chicago.

The past two seasons the Bears have lost their identity and forgotten what kind of football team they are. While the defense came into the year with low expectations everybody expected some improvement. What we witnessed was a total catastrophe and possibly one of the worst defensive units in Chicago Bears history. The offense never clicked and the players clearly checked out a few months ago. For the Bears to be relevant once again and have a shot at competing with the Green Bay Packers they have to once again find their identity and fix their putrid defense that gave up back-to-back fifty point games.

So now begins the future for the Chicago Bears. It will be interesting to see what kind of moves are made throughout the offseason and what kind of team takes the field next August. It is almost surreal that a team that had such high expectations and an offense that was predicted to be tops in the league fell to obscurity so fast -but that is just the way it goes in today’s NFL. Hopefully for the people of Chicago they make the right choices this time and we aren’t talking about this same subject in another two years with another head coach packing his bags.

Marc Trestman and Phil Emery, fired by the Bears

Marc Trestman and Phil Emery, fired by the Bears

with Dave Rusch and Steve Leventhal

….mercifully, the last podcast of the year, looks at Black Monday in the NFL with firings in Chicago and New York, as well as a parting of the ways in San Francisco. Plus a look at the first round of the NFL playoffs.

Hear interviews from Aaron Rogers, Mike McCarthy, Jim Caldwell, Pete Carroll, and Phil Emery, fired as Bears GM. Also we dig into the archives for an old chat with Hall of Famer and former Packer Bart Starr from 1998.

Don’t miss cameos from Mr Baseball, Bob Uecker and Dick Vitale on this week’s Weekend Sports Report.

Bears QB Jay Cutler meets with the media

Bears QB Jay Cutler meets with the media

Cutler may have been under fire for the rock star size of his contract, and his less than stellar on field performance, but there are several million good reasons to keep him on the Bears roster, at least through 2016.

The big hero in this deal is Cutler’s agent who negotiated this colossal deal.  Don’t blame Jay, he just signed on the dotted line, but Phil Emery, the soon to be unemployed Chicago GM.

However, when you examine things more closely, it may work out in the long run, if not for Chicago, then some other team.

My information is based on data culled from

Cutler’s average annual salary on the $127 million deal is roughly  $18 million per year. The big hit for the Bears is in 2014-2015 with $38 in guaranteed money.

Let’s compare Cutler’s deal with two other marquee NFL QB’s, one younger, one older, who have similar average salaries.

Thirty-four year old Tony Romo’s deal runs out a year before Jay’s. His average salary and guaranteed money ($54 million) are similar to Cutler’s deal.  The difference, however, is that the Cowboys are on the hook for a larger salary cap hit, should he no longer be on the roster in in 2015, 2016, or 2017.

Cutler is guaranteed $16 million in 2016, but should the team cut or trade him, they are only on the hook for $3 million. In 2017, that amount drops to $2 million.

Twenty-six year old Matthew Stafford of the Lions becomes an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season.  How much of a raise will he get above the $22.5 million he’s scheduled to earn in the last two years of his deal? Especially if he leads his team back to the playoffs a few more times.

Tony Romo was the top rated QB in the NFL, for any starter. Stafford’s 85.7 rating is actually below Cutler’s 88.6.

The biggest problem Cutler faced in 2014 was having one of the league’s worst defenses preventing him from running a balanced offense, thus increasing his turnovers. The mediocre offensive line which allowed him to be sacked 38 times didn’t help matters either.

It’s easy to criticize Jay because he’s not a charmer in front of the cameras.  Cutler will never be a pitch man like Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson.  That’s just not his style.  But from what we in the media hear, his teammates see a side of Jay the public does not.

The solution.  Draft a quarterback in the second or third round in 2015 or 2016, and nurture them along. Rebuild that defense that was absolutely pitiful in 2014. Then, re-think things in 2017.  Conversely, when the average salaries of QB’s in the NFL start exceeding $25 or $30 million, the deal might not seem so bad after all.


Sometimes, even great shooters struggle to find their shot.

Someone who could attest to that would be Northwestern head coach, Chris Collins, who was a terrific outside shooter at the high school and collegiate level (playing at Duke University). Collins also knows the best way to get back on track for a scorer is to get easy buckets, and that is exactly what Northwestern guard, Tre Demps, would do in Saturday’s 75-55 blowout win over Northern Kentucky.

After another 0-2 start from downtown Saturday, Demps would find other ways to score and lead the Wildcats (9-4) to victory.

“Obviously for a guy like Tre who has struggled a little bit with his outside shot to get five or six layups, I thought that was key for him,” Collins said after the game. “We did a really good job attacking the basket.”

Freshman guard, Bryant McIntosh, would also have another impressive game, scoring 15 points while adding 5 rebounds and 4 assists. McIntosh has had to play outside of his game, focusing more on scoring rather than distributing the ball while guard, Jershon Cobb, has been on the shelf with an injury.

“I don’t really think about that too much,” McIntosh said. “I think you have to make the right play and I feel like sometimes our offense goes into walls and I have the ability to create a shot for myself or another person, and thats just something I was trying to do. I was watching film and seeing sometimes we have some long droughts and sometimes I am not aggressive enough.”

The Wildcats were definitely aggressive on Saturday. Northern Kentucky (6-7) struggled to find scoring from anyone and would commit 11 turnovers to match only 11 assists. Northwestern held Northern Kentucky’s leading scorer, Tayler Persons, to 5 points on 1-6 shooting from the field.

While it was a nice win for a young Northwestern squad, they know the real test begins December 30, when they travel to face new conference rival, Rutgers, in the Big Ten opener.

“I think they are going to have to experience it,” Collins said. “The level of intensity is going to go up, the level of scouting is going to go up, because you have teams that know each other so well and the preparation is good and the coaches are so good in our conference that you really have to be sharp, you have to be disciplined, and for a young player that’s a hard thing.”

For the full Chris Collins post game presser click below