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By Drew Stevens (@lookwhatdrewdid)
Like the willpower to forgo those extra helpings of Thanksgiving goodness, the Chicago Bears’ odds of securing a playoff berth have dwindled to untraceable levels following their 41-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday night.
If not for the team’s mostly favorable early schedule, the Bears would likely be closer to competing for the No. 1 spot in the next NFL Draft than for an NFC Wild Card spot, which the team somehow is still on the periphery of even after showing themselves again to be nowhere in the league of the Packers, who should cruise to another NFC North title in light of this victory.
SELL (AT ALL COSTS) – Bears Extend Losing Streak To Five, Rodgers Sticks It To Them Once Again
A silver lining from Sunday night: there won’t be anymore opportunities for the Chicago Bears to prove unfit for national consumption this season.
After two lousy performances on ESPN and this most recent burial, the Bears are far from flex material, no matter what changes the NFL schedule may see in Weeks 16 and 17 (and maybe 18 should COVID-19 keep pushing games deeper into December and January).
That the 41-25 pummeling, one nowhere near as close in execution, is both the team’s fifth consecutive loss and third time being undressed in prime-time this season further validates any questioning of head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace’s job security.
With that being said, there’s plenty of culpability to go around on the field, too.
Mitch Trubisky, who started under center for the first time since being benched in the third quarter of Week 3, continued to dance his jig of one step forward and two steps back, throwing for 242 yards and three touchdowns (two of which lit up an already uneven scoreboard, garbage points being a specialty of the 2020 Bears), but also tossed two interceptions and lost a fumble which was returned for a score.
Meanwhile, Trubisky’s insufferably spectacular counterpart, Aaron Rodgers, exploited each path of least resistance offered from a Bears defense that sorely lacked liveliness and Akiem Hicks. The Packers looked every bit the part of a Super Bowl contender, gashing the Bears for more points in the first half (27) than they’d given up in any game all season (26).
Though not mathematically eliminated from post-season contention, the Bears would likely have to win each of their remaining five games — Lions (4-7), Texans (4-7), at Vikings (5-6), at Jaguars (1-10), and Packers (8-3) — to qualify.
At this point the Bears sweeping the remainder of their schedule seems as likely to happen as any chance of victory did after halftime Sunday night.
HOLD – Increasingly Cash-Strapped Cubs Providing First Challenges For New President Hoyer
It won’t be long now before recently crowned President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer begins to absorb the breadth of the spotlight once wholly reserved for his esteemed predecessor, Theo Epstein.
With the Cubs having hemorrhaged a reported tens of millions of dollars as a result of mitigation at the turnstiles last season (part of billions lost by the MLB as a whole), the pruning of payroll appears inevitable ahead of Tuesday’s non-tender deadline.
That crack at financial recoupment could mean the departure of Albert Almora (due a projected $1.575 million in arbitration), Kyle Schwarber (due a projected $7.9 million in arbitration) or Kris Bryant.
The former NL Rookie of the Year and MVP, Bryant, projects to make $18.6 million and is arbitration-eligible for the last time in 2021. Though he just struggled through the worst season of his career, Bryant has drawn interest from the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves.
Whomever Hoyer trades or releases into free agency will better indicate if the franchise is truly teeter tottering toward a digestible retool or an unpalatable rebuild — the latter of which Tom Ricketts recently refuted.
BUY – Bulls Prepare To Make Long-Awaited Return With Training Camp
Much judgement has already been passed in the direction of the Chicago Bulls ahead of the 2020-21 season and their first game action since March.
Tethered to all the conjecture about the floor-to-ceiling potential of Patrick Williams, the formidability of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., and any off-season roster changes that did or didn’t happen, is a solitary theme.
Can this team — a near spitting image of the one that had only claimed three victories in the final month’s time leading to the NBA’s shutdown in March — make the playoffs?
Whatever answer eventually emerges will begin its lengthy materialization Tuesday as training camp opens with individual workouts. Group sessions start Dec. 6.
Former Simeon product Zach Norvell Jr. will take the Advocate Center floor with fellow homegrown guard Devon Dotson after he and veteran journeyman Noah Vonleh signed one-year deals with the Bulls on Thanksgiving. That being said, Norvell Jr. and Vonleh will need to make quite the impression on the Bulls’ coaching staff to survive final roster cuts on Dec. 21.
In addition to the release of the training camp docket, preseason schedules were also revealed. The Bulls will host Houston Dec. 11 and 13 before traveling to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder Dec. 16 and 18.
BUY – Blackhawks Break Glass Ceilings, Empower Multiple Women
After some several weeks of quiet, the Chicago Blackhawks pegged a woman, Kendall Coyne Schofield, as their player development coach and youth hockey growth specialist a week ago, a bold move that earned the team applause throughout the sports landscape
News broke of the 28-year-old Oak Lawn native’s hiring on the same day Meghan Hunter was promoted from senior executive assistant to general manager Stan Bowman to the dual roles of director of hockey administration and amateur scout.
Coyne Schofield, who, in 2019, became the first woman ever to compete in the NHL’s All-Star Skills Competition, is still an active player and U.S. women’s national team captain. In addition to her responsibilities in player development, she will also scout for the Hawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs.
Coyne Schofield and Hunter are two of three women employed in the Hawks’ hockey operations department. Chicago hired Mary DeBartolo as a hockey analytics coordinator last year.
“Knowing there are going to be people watching me on the ice, and seeing a woman in a coaching role, just shows what’s possible for the next generation,” Coyne Schofield said. “That’s what excites me.”
Drew Stevens is a writer based in Chicago