The Bear Truth: Holy Crap the Bears Won
I'm gonna let The Bear Truth website evaporate into the Internet ether over the next few days, but I'll occasionally post some thoughts on here and be sure to team them up with a Cubs related post for those that do not wish to discuss football.
To the recap...
The Good: They won and they did it easily. Color me surprised. The defense was outstanding, holding a good offense albeit not great offense to two field goals. Classic Lovie Smith defense, bend, but don't break, force some turnovers with Old Man Urlacher's full out dive being the play of the game. The fumble return for a TD was just the icing on the cake, and that one was pretty much all on Matt Ryan. The only real mistake on defense was the Michael Turner 53-yard run.
Cutler and the offense looked good for the most part. A 107.8 QB rating and 2 TD's with over 300 yards looked good in the boxscore. A lot of that yardage was on well executed screens, but it's not like anyone doubts Cutler's ability to throw it downfield. And a lot of good offenses and QB's can get their yards on well-executed short yardage throws. I'm just happy the Bears finally know how to execute a proper screen. Roy Williams made the catches that he didn't in the preseason. And is just me or is refreshing to know that third and long isn't an automatic death sentence to the offense? They actually seemed to play their best in those situations.
The Bad: Cutler was sacked 5 times, some of that is the offensive line, some of that is Mike Martz's offensive scheme, some of that is Cutler. Cutler first half could have went from great to disastrous with two tipped balls in traffic that didn't get picked. Cutler missed a ridiculously open Kellen Davis in the red zone on a brilliant bootleg playcall with the TE and 3 linemen sneaking the opposite way. It might not be the easiest throw on the run, but I'm guessing he's made it in practice and it's a play who just have to make.
Mike Martz's playcalling with a 24-point lead that led to the INT returned for a TD. Martz has his strengths, running out the clock is not one of them...or protecting the QB.
The Ugly: Brutal road game at New Orleans this week and then the Packers at home in Week 3, so pretty close to a must-win for the Bears and they delivered.
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k
he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.
JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.
My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.
Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...
joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1
not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.
really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.
Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.
Classic Scully - great stuff.
Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)