Sunday, December 28, 2014

Time to end the Cutler era in Chicago?

In a season that could easily be classified as the biggest disappointment in the NFL this season, the Chicago Bears will mercifully end their season Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium.

A game that means nothing for the Bears in terms of playoffs, but everything for head coach Marc Trestman and seemingly moreso for quarterback Jay Cutler. It's been something that hard for me to fathom after the huge contract he signed at the end of last season that guaranteed him $54 million the next three years.

The fact of the matter is, Cutler's goose may alreadty be cooked, but talk of his demise has been greatly exaggerated. in reality 2014 has been one of his best years statistically in terms of touchdowns (28 is a career best), completion percentage (66.1 is a career best) and yards (He needs 57 yards to have his best season since 2008, his final season in Denver).

Of course the number that sticks out are the 18 interceptions are what everyone is talking about. It is a number that leads the NFL and is his most since his first season in Chicago, when he appeared to be trying to do too much.

Numbers will say what they will. His say, the offense has not been consistent all year. Every Trestman postgame presser starts with him saying the game was "disappointing." Most all of that falls back on the head coach and the preparation. The quarterback has to wear that, as well, and for the second half of the season it is clear the coach has lost the team, mainly because he didn't have the answers to solve the problems on either side of the ball.

As many characterized it after Cutler signed his contract, Trestman and Cutler became married at that point. They were tied to each other in success and failure and with the contract, the Bears were hoping and banking on success.

That put a ton of expectations on Cutler's 2014, and from the first game of the season he has failed to deliver. I've been one of his biggest supporters throughout the years and after a 2013 that saw the potential start to come out of him, finally, he appeared ready to take the next step. 

Give him the tools in standout wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, a tight end in Martelus Bennett that catches anything in his vacinity and a running back in Matt Forte that is one of the best in the business and the offense was poised for greatness.

Somewhere along the way, Cutler and Trestman got their signals crossed and seemed out of sync from the first game of the season. Things have spiraled out of control the last four games and opened up on Jay, leading to his benching in the Week 16 loss to the Lions. 

All of the talk this week has been that no one at Halas Hall is safe from the CEO Ted Philips to General Manager Phil Emery, Trestman and Cutler. I have called for a house cleaning myself, but to see them all go would be unprecidented and while Cutler is the highest paid player in the league this season, he wasn't the only problem on the team, so seeing him sent packing would be far fetched.

A coaching change and a chance for Emery to take one more shot at it seems more likely. Regardless, we shall see come Monday if Trestman makes it through Black Monday.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Brewers keeping winning ways despite injuries

Wednesday's dramatic win over the Pirates may well be a microcosm of the Brewers winning ways of late and a sign there might be something special about this group. 

Rickie Weeks was making a start in the leadoff spot with Carlos Gomez out serviing his suspension and when Yovani Gallardo gave up a couple long home runs, the Brewers put a rally together and got Chris Davis to come through.

It seems like a different guy has seemed to come through each night. It has the team on the cover of Sports Illustrated and holding a five-game lead in the NL Central Division. And me starting to think there might not be a huge "regression to the mean" coming in the form of a losing streak. 

With Aramis Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list, the Brewers are missing some pop in the lineup and with a lefty going for the Pirates in the form of Wandy Rodriguez, manager Ron Roenicke gave Weeks the start today in Way back Wednesday fashion, hit him leadoff. Weeks did not disappoint, with three hits, falling a triple shy of the cycle. He has now hit safely in eight straight games he's played in and is hitting .360 for the season. As hot as he's been, I'm not sure how Roenicke can stick with his strict platoon at second base. 

His fellow benchmate for most of the season, Martin Maldanado, also hit a home run that tied the game at the time. For as little as he has played as backup catcher, he delivers every time he takes the field.

Throw in Rob Wooten helping Houdini out of the eighth inning of a jam that kept the Pirates lead at one run. He ended up getting the win in going 1.1 innings. It's just be a great run by the bullpen. Even with Francisco Rodriguez's hiccups Wednesday night and Tyler Thornburg not finding the strikezone Thursday night, 

That helped set the stage for Davis, who has certainly not performed to expectations and he'll be the first to admit to such. Hopefully this hit will give him the confidence to not be bailing off pitches as much and trying to pull everything. 

When everything comes together like it as almost when needed this season, the Brewers have gotten it. Everyone around baseball is seemingly waiting for the bubble to burst on this team and another series win shows that it may be time to start believing this team could have something going. At the quarter-mark of the season, the Brewers are in control of a division and are in position to be buyers at the trade deadline. 

Whether it will pan out, I'm not sure, but it will be fun as a fan of this team to watch!

Wilber's Way

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