Tagged in: chicago

Chicago Bears continue search, interview former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson

The Chicago Bears interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Cleveland Browns executive Glenn Cook for their vacant coach and general manager jobs on Wednesday.

The positions opened Monday when the Bears fired former coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on the heels of a 6-11 season. Pederson led Philadelphia to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship following the 2017 season. He was 42-37-1 with two division championships and three playoff appearances before going 4-11-1 in 2020 and getting fired.

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Pederson and Nagy are friends from their time working under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Kansas City.

Cook has spent six years in Cleveland’s front office. He was the Browns’ assistant director of pro scouting from 2016 to 2019 and their vice president of player personnel the past two seasons, working with executive vice president of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry.

Cook also served as a scouting assistant with the Indianapolis Colts (2011 and 2012) and a pro scout with the Green Bay Packers (2012 to 2015).

He was a linebacker at the University of Miami from 2004 to 2008. He also was drafted by baseball’s Chicago Cubs in the 46th round in 2009 and played 34 matches for their rookie league team that year.

The Bears landed at the No. 7 spot in the NFL draft after their season, but that pick belongs to the New York Giants from a trade.

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Chicago Bears fire coach Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace after 6-11 season

The Chicago Bears fired coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace on Monday after the team concluded with a 6-11 record this season.

Nagy was named NFL Coach of the Year after his first season in 2018, when he led the Bears to a 12-4 record and they reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

He earned praise that season for his offensive wrinkles and humble disposition, but the Bears couldn’t sustain that success over the ensuing three seasons.

They finished 8-8 in 2019 and then again in 2020, when the league’s expanded playoff field put them into the wild-card round. Nagy was never able to duplicate his first season, in part because the quarterback he inherited — Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 draft — never made the necessary improvement.

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Trubisky departed via free agency last spring, after the Bears traded up to draft quarterback Justin Fields.

The Bears were 2-8 in Fields’ 10 starts, and he finished the season ranked last in the league in Total QBR (26.0). In four seasons, the Bears were 34-31 under Nagy in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs.

Monday’s news has been brewing since the end of November, when a local report emerged that Nagy would be fired after the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day game at the Detroit Lions. Nagy stated at the time that he was unaware of his impending firing, but no member of the Bears’ front office or ownership immediately stepped forward to publicly deny the report.

A day later, owner George McCaskey told players during a team meeting that Nagy would not be fired after the match. The Bears beat the Lions 16-14, but it was their only victory amid a 1-8 streak that ran from Week 6 through Week 15.

In a statement issued Monday evening, Nagy said that “it was an honor to serve” as the Bears’ head coach and he thanked the team’s ownership, Pace and his players, coaches and support staff.

Pace also issued a statement Monday evening and also thanked the team’s ownership, Nagy, the team’s players, the football operations staff and the Bears fans.

With the help of former NFL executive Bill Polian leading their search committee, the Bears will cast a wide net for a new GM and head coach. McCaskey indicated that it’s possible the team could even hire a coach before the GM.

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Cousins throws for 2 touchdowns as Vikings beat Bears 17-9

The Minnesota Vikings have little margin for error and plenty of room to improve as they try to secure a playoff spot.

Not that Kirk Cousins needed a reminder. Or, for that matter, coach Mike Zimmer.

Cousins threw two touchdown passes, and Minnesota defeated the struggling and short-handed Chicago Bears 17-9 on Monday night.

The Vikings (7-7), part of a tight pack of teams vying for one of the NFC’s seven playoff spots, were in line for their most lopsided victory before Justin Fields threw a touchdown pass to Jesper Horsted on the game’s final play.

That score aside, Minnesota withstood several scoring threats by Chicago down the stretch coming off a win over Pittsburgh in which the Vikings nearly blew a 29-0 lead.

“I think we have work,” Cousins said. “I think there is a lot to improve upon. We’re playing three really good opponents up ahead. We’re probably going to need everyone, so there is not a lot of room for error and we have to tighten the screws here and play our best football down the stretch.”

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The Vikings’ final three matches are at home versus the Los Angeles Rams and at NFC North champion Green Bay before they host Chicago in the finale. The result in this one was hardly a surprise given the state of the Bears (4-10).

Chicago lost for the eighth time in nine games, and with 14 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, that seemed inevitable. Receiver Allen Robinson was on it, as was the starting secondary.

The health issues also hit the coaching staff, with all three coordinators testing positive for the coronavirus during the week.

Defensive coordinator Sean Desai was cleared to return hours before kickoff. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was not cleared, so Nagy called plays. And special teams coordinator Chris Tabor was out.

Cousins, who struggled last week, didn’t exactly dominate in this one. He was 12 of 24 for 87 yards with an interception and got sacked four times. The two-time Pro Bowler also connected with Justin Jefferson for a 12-yard touchdown in the first quarter and threw a 7-yarder to Ihmir Smith-Marsette in the third.

Dalvin Cook ran for 89 yards, after going for 205 versus Pittsburgh in a sooner-than-expected return from a dislocated shoulder.

D.J. Wonnum had a career-high three sacks and the Vikings recovered three fumbles on the way to their second straight win after back-to-back losses.

“It’s not just playing better, it’s getting better,” Zimmer said. “It’s getting better in the run defense, getting better in the pass coverage, it’s getting better in protection. It’s getting better in running the ball. It’s all those things. We’re trying to get better so we can get to that spot where we’ve got to get to.”

For the Bears and their fans, it was another frustrating outing.

Fields threw for 285 yards and ran for 35 in his second game back after missing two with broken ribs. The rookie completed 26 of 39 passes playing behind a line missing both starting tackles, with right tackle Larry Borom on the COVID list and left tackle Jason Peters out with an ankle injury.

Robert Quinn and Akiem Hicks each had two sacks. Quinn has 16 this year, leaving him just shy of Hall of Famer Richard Dent’s franchise record of 17 1/2 in 1984. But Chicago committed nine penalties for 91 yards in a sloppy performance that had fans again booing at times and making their feelings about coach Matt Nagy known, chanting “Fire Nagy!”

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DeRozan leads Bulls over Lakers 115-110 in team’s return

DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points after missing two weeks in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 115-110 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Lonzo Ball added 19 points as the Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak. It was Chicago’s first match since Dec. 11 after two were postponed.

LeBron James had 31 points, Carmelo Anthony added 21 and Russell Westbrook 20 as Los Angeles dropped its second straight.

With the Bulls trailing by a point in the final minute, DeRozan hit an 18-footer for a 111-110 lead with 52 seconds remaining. Following a Lakers miss, DeRozan missed a shot but then was fouled with 15.6 seconds left after Ball grabbed the offensive rebound. DeRozan then hit both free throws for a 113-110 edge.

Like much of the first two months of the season, the Bulls turned to DeRozan in crunch time and he delivered.

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“It’s an honor to be trusted in those moments,” he said. “I never take it for granted. It’s an adrenaline rush that you can’t duplicate, so you try to make the most of it every time you’re put in that position. There’s nothing like it. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, and I’m willing to take both.”

Before having two matches postponed last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the Bulls had 10 players in the health and safety protocols. That number is down to four right now, including All-Star Zach LaVine.

Although the Lakers haven’t had any games postponed, they currently have six players — Kent Bazemore, Avery Bradley, Talen Horton-Tucker. Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Austin Reaves — and coach Frank Vogel in the health and safety protocols.

Assistant David Fizdale served as coach on Sunday.

It also was Los Angeles’ first match since forward Anthony Davis sprained his left knee on Friday. He is expected to miss four weeks.

“Obviously we’re doing things on the fly, figuring out how to play with the lineups we have and the people we have available,” Westbrook said. “New guys are stepping in here, so we’ve got to do what we can. That’s it. You’ve just got to play hard and let the rest take care of itself.”

Chicago led nearly the entire first half and by as much as 10 points before taking a 61-59 halftime lead. The Lakers went ahead 65-64 early in the third quarter on a floater by Isaiah Thomas.

The teams traded baskets and leads for the remainder of the quarter before Los Angeles took an 84-83 advantage into the fourth.

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LaVine nets 32, Bulls overcome DeRozan’s absence, top Denver

The Chicago Bulls found out they had to get by without DeMar DeRozan, then showed they have enough to keep winning, even when they’re missing one of their best players.

It sure is a welcomed change for Zach LaVine after years of losing.

“No idea, brother,” he said, laughing.

LaVine scored 32 points and the Bulls overcame DeRozan’s absence to beat the Denver Nuggets 109-97 on Monday night.

The Bulls took a big hit a few hours before tipoff when DeRozan, their leading scorer, entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Even without the four-time All-Star, they dominated down the stretch and tied Brooklyn for the Eastern Conference lead.

It’s just another sign of how far the Bulls have come. After four consecutive losing seasons, they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

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The Chicago Bulls found out they had to get by without DeMar DeRozan, then showed they have enough to keep winning, even when they’re missing one of their best players.

It sure is a welcomed change for Zach LaVine after years of losing.

“No idea, brother,” he said, laughing.

LaVine scored 32 points and the Bulls overcame DeRozan’s absence to beat the Denver Nuggets 109-97 on Monday night.

The Bulls took a big hit a few hours before tipoff when DeRozan, their leading scorer, entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Even without the four-time All-Star, they dominated down the stretch and tied Brooklyn for the Eastern Conference lead.

It’s just another sign of how far the Bulls have come. After four consecutive losing seasons, they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

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Washington Football Team places K Joey Slye on IR because of hamstring injury, signs Brian Johnson

The Washington Football Team has placed kicker Joey Slye on injured reserve due to a hamstring injury and signed Brian Johnson to fill its need at the position, the team revealed Tuesday.

Slye was injured in Monday’s 17-15 win over the Seattle Seahawks. He’ll miss at least the next three matches for Washington because of the IR designation.

Johnson had been on Chicago’s practice team but spent four weeks on the active roster with New Orleans. During that time he made all eight of his field goals but only five of eight extra points. Johnson was signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech, where he made 76.1% of his field goals and was perfect on 131 extra points.

Johnson will be Washington’s fourth kicker of the campaign. It released Dustin Hopkins on Oct. 21; the veteran kicker had missed two field goals and two extra points in the first six games. But his replacement, Chris Blewitt, had three kicks blocked in his two games — all because of a low trajectory.

His signing was a big gamble because Blewitt had not kicked since 2016 while at the University of Pittsburgh.

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But Slye had steadied the kicking duties.

In his first two games, Slye had made all five of his field goal attempts as well as all five extra points. He made one field goal Monday night. But he had an extra-point attempt late in the first half blocked. While in pursuit of Rasheem Green, who blocked the kick and was running with the ball, Slye shot to the ground.

He injured the hamstring on his left leg, also his plant leg.

Without Slye, Washington could not kick a field goal or extra point in the second half. Punter Tress Way was the emergency kicker, but it also meant having a new holder in quarterback Kyle Allen. Washington converted a 2-point try in the second half for a 17-9 lead that turned out to be the difference in the game. It eschewed a 21-yard field goal late in the game and had a touchdown pass overturned on replay.

Washington is still awaiting news on running back J.D. McKissic, who was carted off the field late in the game. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke said McKissic was up and walking around in the locker room after the game. His agent, Doug Hendrickson, tweeted after the game that McKissic “is all good.”

Center Wes Schweitzer injured an ankle and slowly limped off the field. Schweitzer, usually a backup guard, was starting at center because of injuries to two others. His status also hasn’t been updated.

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Anett Kontaveit, Karolina Pliskova win opening matches at WTA Finals

Karolina Pliskova overcame a slow start before defeating Garbiñe Muguruza 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6) on Wednesday in her opening match at the WTA Finals.

In a contest between two former No. 1-ranked players, the third-seeded Pliskova struggled early adjusting to the nearly 5,000-feet altitude of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city.

Pliskova is playing the WTA Finals for the fifth time, having reached the semifinals in 2018 and ’19. The 2020 tournament was canceled.

She didn’t win any titles in 2021 but kept a high ranking by reaching the finals at Wimbledon and Montreal, and the semifinals at Cincinnati.

Pliskova now has a 9-2 record versus former Wimbledon and French Open champion Muguruza, who won the Chicago and Dubai titles this year and is making her fourth appearance at the season-ending event.

Muguruza dropped her opening service game but then won four consecutive games to take a 4-2 lead and eventually clinched the first set in 38 minutes. Pliskova settled down in the second, breaking Muguruza’s serve in the second and eighth games to level the match.

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The third set lasted more than an hour, with Muguruza saving three match points to force a tiebreaker, and another in the tiebreaker before Pliskova sealed the win.

Earlier, Anett Kontaveit extended her hot streak with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over second-seeded Barbora Krejcikova.

Kontaveit had early breaks in both sets to beat the French Open champion in just 75 minutes for her 11th consecutive victory.

Kontaveit has won 27 of her last 29 matches, which include her title run at Ostrava where she beat Paula Badosa and Maria Sakkari, both of whom are competing here.

“I think throughout my career, I’ve been in sort of top 30 for a lot of years,” Kontaveit said. “During the summer I was on a bit of a losing streak, then I started working with Dmitry (Tursunov) and was really hoping to get a few wins. I managed to win Cleveland, then it just sort of started rolling from there”.

Tursunov a former world No. 20, started working with Kontaveit at the Cincinnati Masters, where the 25-year-old Estonian lost in the first round. Since then, Kontaveit has soared from No. 30 into the top 10.

After top-ranked Ash Barty of Australia opted not to defend the title because of travel restrictions in her country, Kontaveit edged out Ons Jabeur for the last spot in the season-ending championship by beating Simona Halep in the final of the Transylvania Open.

“I’ve been believing in myself a little bit more, and the game definitely has clicked from just getting more wins and playing a lot of tennis and really feeling comfortable,” Kontaveit said.

Krejcikova, the only reigning major winner in the field, started the year ranked 65th but captured three titles to qualify for the WTA Finals.

“It’s just difficult because a couple days ago I was actually playing in Europe, now I’m here,” Krejcikova said. “It’s really, really, really difficult.”

In doubles, the Japanese pair of Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara had a 6-0, 6-4 win over Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac.

The tournament, which was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is played in a round-robin format.

The event has a total prize pool of $5 million and is being played at the Akron Tennis Stadium in Zapopan, a suburb of Guadalajara.

The WTA Finals are being played in Guadalajara for this year only, with the event scheduled to return to Shenzhen, China in 2022.

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Chicago White Sox considering Craig Kimbrel trade after picking up reliever’s option

The Chicago White Sox are open to moving reliever Craig Kimbrel days after picking up his $16 million contract option for 2022.

“We view him as a potentially impactful reliever as he’s been for the vast majority of his career,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stated Tuesday on Day 1 of the GM meetings in Southern California. “We’re not alone in that opinion.

“What we have to figure out is if it makes the most sense to have Craig in a White Sox uniform going forward or is there a better use of that spot and him perhaps via trade.”

Kimbrel, 33, stands ninth all-time with 372 career saves but was asked to pitch in the eighth inning for the White Sox after he was acquired in a midseason trade with the crosstown Cubs.

The move backfired as Kimbrel’s ERA ballooned from 0.49 with the Cubs to 5.09 with the White Sox.

“It didn’t work out the way we wanted last year so perhaps there’s a better use of his skills than how we were doing it,” Hahn said. “So we have to reconsider his usage with us versus a potential trade.”

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The White Sox had an all-star closer in Liam Hendriks when they gave up injured second baseman Nick Madrigal along with reliever Codi Heuer to get Kimbrel at the end of July. At the time, Kimbrel said he had no problem pitching in the eighth inning and blamed his struggles on mechanical issues.

Hahn said Kimbrel continues to express the desire to do what’s best for the team.

However, his return to the White Sox is in doubt and he’s more than likely to pitch back in the ninth inning for another team in 2022.

“He’s as good as gone,” one rival executive said Tuesday.

Hahn admitted Kimbrel’s performance wasn’t great but said he doesn’t regret the decision to trade for him. White Sox brass decided he was the best reliever on the market, and they went out and got him.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to have an exact answer why he didn’t work out over those eight weeks but certainly if we’re going to include him in our plans for the future we have to find a way to maximize his abilities,” he said.

“It’s easy to look at the results and work your way backwards for an explanation and say, ‘Well the role wasn’t what he was used to, so it must be the role.’ He approached it the same way he would approach closing opportunities.”

If, by chance, the White Sox don’t move him, Hahn is confident the White Sox will get a team-first player in whatever role they put him in. “I’ve had multiple conversations with him since the season ended,” Hahn said. “He wants to win.”

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New York Yankees acquire All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo from Chicago Cubs

The New York Yankees obtained All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, it was revealed.

Right-handed pitcher Alexander Vizcaino and outfielder Kevin Alcantara, both minor leaguers, will head from New York to Chicago in the trade.

The Yankees also announced they acquired cash considerations from the Cubs but didn’t specify the amount. A source told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers that it is $5.5 million, which is the remaining balance of Rizzo’s $16.5 million salary this season.

Rizzo wasn’t in the lineup for the Cubs’ series finale versus the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday. The three-time All-Star is batting .248 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs in 92 games this season.

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Rizzo, who will turn 32 on Aug. 8, can become a free agent after the season.

He has spent the past 10 seasons with Chicago. The slugger went over in a trade with the San Diego Padres in 2012 and is considered one of the iconic Cubs after helping break a 108-year championship drought in 2016.

The move to get Rizzo comes after New York also got All-Star outfielder Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers. Both Rizzo and Gallo are left-handed hitters, which the Yankees had sought to add to a lineup that was predominantly right-handed — not a good mix at Yankee Stadium with its short porch in right field.

New York started the day fourth in the American League wild-card chase for two spots and then lost 14-0 at Tampa Bay. The Yankees had been using a mix at first base this year with DJ LeMahieu getting a lot of time. 

Luke Voit led the majors in home runs last year during the pandemic-shortened season, but the big first baseman has been injured for much of the year.

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Miller hits 3 HRs, Phillies rout reeling Cubs 8-0

Brad Miller hit three home runs in a match for the first time in his career, and the Philadelphia Phillies routed the sinking Chicago Cubs 8-0 on Thursday night.

Miller hit a solo drive in the third inning and added two-run homers in the fifth and seventh innings.

With a chance at joining the other 18 players who have hit a record four home runs in a game, Miller popped up in the ninth. He grounded out in his first at-bat.

Manager Joe Girardi wanted to get the left-handed batting Miller, a utility man and pinch-hitting specialist, in the lineup versus Cubs right-handed starter Adbert Alzolay. Miller started at first base while Rhys Hoskins got the night off.

“We just liked the matchup and he came up really big for us,” Girardi said. Miller hadn’t homered since June 6 and began the day with six home runs this season. The 31-year-old infielder broke out with his 14th career multi-homer game and his parents in the stands at Wrigley Field — he now has 104 homers in nine big league seasons.

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“It was really special,” Miller said. “I felt like I was dreaming.”

Miller has been working with the Phillies hitting coaches after a tough June when he had just two hits and walked nine times in 43 plate appearances over 20 games.

“To turn the page and being able to contribute was really nice,” Miller said. “I need to take that mindset in there to do damage and drive the ball.”

And drive the ball Miller did.

“None were cheap shots,” Phillies starter Zach Eflin said. “He crushed all of them.”

Eflin (4-6) settled into pitch six solid innings as the Phillies took three of four games at Wrigley. Didi Gregorius added a two-run shot and All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto scored on a double steal.

The Cubs lost for the 12th time in 13 and dropped to 43-45 as they struggled at the plate without injured stars Kris Bryant and Javier Báez.

It was 24th time a Phillies batter hit three homers in a contest and the first since Jayson Werth tagged Toronto for three in May 2008.

Miller homered early to left-center off Alzolay (4-9), who lost his fifth consecutive start.

Cubs manager David Ross said Alzolay’s lack of execution, not lack of stuff did in the righty — especially against Miller.

“A little bit of command issues, especially fastball command from my view,” Ross said.

Miller turned on Alzolay’s 0-2 pitch the next time up for a drive deep down right field line that made it 4-0. Miller launched the first pitch he saw from reliever Cory Abbott in the seventh off Wrigley’s right-field message board.

Eflin scattered five hits while striking out five and walking one.

Chicago couldn’t muster much against Eflin after ending an 11-game losing streak, its longest since 2012, on Wednesday with an 8-3 win. The Cubs were in a first-place tie in the NL Central on June 24 when starter Zach Davies front-ended a combined no-hitter over the Dodgers.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second when Realmuto plowed home on a double steal.

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