Sizing up a monster weekend in sports in Chicago — including everything except the long-dead baseball representatives of the North and South Sides — isn’t a tough thing to do, finding more than one obvious positive story is another question.
It’s quite obvious that the weekend’s two headliners came up short. Both the Bears and Northwestern football welcomed formidable opponents to the city and came up short, but neither ruined their respective seasons and hopefully reading this post will help you form that conclusion.
As for the clear good news: Derrick Rose played 20 minutes of real NBA basketball on Saturday and he came away no worse for wear…we’re on our way people. #thereturn.
Elsewhere, the Hawks may have took too much time off in between their first and second games (we ain’t do all that celebrating in June to be losing to Tampa Bay in October), the Wolves started their season and took the place of the women’s basketball team in the second-tier team rotation (#RIPSky), the Fire are still in a playoff race, maybe? And the Cubs are entering some sort of high stakes bluff session with the Yankees over Joe Girardi, which it has no chance of winning.
But enough with all that, here’s more on the top story lines from the weekend:
Ok, they’re 3-2 now, but when you really think about it this team could easily be 1-4, The team has outplayed all its opponents in the fourth quarter this year, but the Pittsburgh game was the only one where the Bears didn’t have a deficit to overcome in the final 12 minutes.
Doesn’t make you feel better, I know, but the Giants on Thursday should — that’s a bad enough opponent and a close enough time from previous disappointment where the Bears should be sharper than they’ve been at any time since the end of the Pittsburgh game.
You would expect the Bears to be in a decent enough shape entering its game Sunday, against a Saints team you can’t possibly let up against, but they seemingly found a way. Again, the team didn’t do enough to establish the run and it seemed utterly unable to catch on to Rob Ryan’s blitz packages — pair that with the defense’s inability to hinder NO’s short passing game and you had an overall performance that was quite Lovian in the Bears’ inability to match up strategically with the other sideline and the players’ inability to get up emotionally when knocked down.
Even something truly great, like Alshon Jeffery’s record-setting performance, has to be looked at as bittersweet due to the obvious effect it has on Brandon Marshall, with whom it seems like the Bears are getting closer to that “step lightly” territory. You also have to worry about the ever-scary thinness of the defensive line, exacerbated by another injury yesterday. Gonna get harder and harder for the team to control the line of scrimmage and thus control games period.
We could be seeing a collapse here, but you got to wait until Thursday night. If the Bears don’t feast on the (Little) Giants then even the Icebox may not be able to turn things around (damn, she grew up).
I may be in the minority with this opinion, but I can’t help but feel that if Northwestern got the job done Saturday against Ohio State then the Bears could have lost by four touchdowns and I would have been straight.
It didn’t go down, of course, but the 40-30 loss could have been a lot worse — it could have been Maryland-Florida St., for instance. For a half, the first half, Chicago was at last a college football town. In that time, the most important game in the sport was happening here and the Cats were winning, then Carlos Hyde took over and NU felt compelled to engage itself in more late-game disappointment.
The ESPN crew rammed home the 5:03 story line with effectiveness during the game, I had forgot about just how close the team’s losses were last year. Given where the Northwestern program and its current team is, it is still too much to think that an undefeated, national championship season is just around the corner. Yet, can you argue that the pieces are now there, just a little more talent may be of use. Otherwise, from the turnout at Gameday to the back and forth nature of the game itself, NU looked right at home on the prime-time stage of college football.
This coming Saturday is a road trip to Madison to see Wisconsin. A win there and we’re still talking about Northwestern as a contender for the Big Ten title and talking about a 2013 season that could even eclipse the special 2012 campaign.
Everything is a first again for the Bulls and Derrick Rose. That fact just injects a freshness and excitement into everything leading up to the season opener.
Saturday’s preseason opener gave everyone the chance to see D-Rose on the court in real time and real action for the first time in 500-sumthin days and all that, but regardless of how you chose to build up the game or how much you invested emotionally in it, you had to be happy with how it turned out.
Given how different the Bulls are without Rose, you can’t possibly take for granted the impact he has on the court, though that may have been the case for fools who thought the team could have somehow overcome Miami last year after beating Brooklyn.
What you could take for granted is just how quickly and effortlessly Rose makes it up the court when healthy, how powerfully he rises to the rim from anywhere within the free throw line.
We saw all that again Saturday and we should see some more of it tonight as the Bulls return to action against Memphis. Now we are to look at Rose’s ability to withstand the typical NBA grind and all that. Screw all the commercials, the exclusive interviews, the endless prognosticating…#TheReturn is now officially in effect.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and Kyle Means @Wrk_Wrt