Hello sports fans, Carlos here with the first Windy City Sports Report for 2013. In this edition – who will be the Bears’ next coach? The Bulls beat WHO and lost to WHOM? Is hockey really coming back?
Well, Saturday was the Wild Card round in the NFL playoffs. The Bears were prepping for…oh wait, that did not happen, did it?
Nope, it did not happen. The Minnesota Vikings beat the Packers (yet another reason to hate the Packers) to grab the last spot in the NFC playoff bracket. Instead of traveling to San Francisco to face the 49ers, Lovie Smith got his traveling papers out of Chicago.
Since the firing, the Bears have been attached to several candidates to replace Smith. There have been as many as eight candidates who have been mentioned, but I feel that Tom Clements, Mike McCoy, and Mike Sullivan have emerged as the top 3. Of course, it is a fluid situation so this could change.
Tom Clements is currently the Offensive Coordinator of the Green Bay Packers. He has been on the Bears’ radar for years now. He was Green Bay’s Quarterbacks Coach before being promoted after the departure of Joe Philbin to Miami.
It was as Quarterbacks Coach that Lovie Smith wanted Clements to run the Bears offense. The Packers reportedly refused an interview on multiple occasions (what more do you need to hate them?). As an Offensive Coordinator, the Packers cannot refuse an interview, but they can delay it until they are out of the playoffs, which they have. I believe the Bears will wait for him so they can finally speak with him and he remains the front runner for the job.
Mike McCoy is the Offensive Coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He is a popular figure with Bears GM Phil Emery so he is high on the list. Unlike the Packers, the Broncos granted the Bears permission to speak with McCoy so they could find out more about him sooner. He worked wonders with Kyle Orton, who had offensive success under McCoy, and won with Tim Tebow (he deserves a job just for that). He is a popular name around Halas Hall, but he does have a history with Jay Cutler.
McCoy was brought in as Offensive Coordinator under Josh McDaniels, whose priority was to get rid of Cutler from Denver. As a result, Cutler did not have much of a relationship with McCoy, perhaps viewing him as an ally of his tormentor. We will see how that dynamic works out.
Mike Sullivan is the Offensive Line Coach for the San Diego Chargers. Sullivan hails from Chicago so he would be a hometown boy made good. He was a former offensive lineman, so he has the pedigree to turn around the poorest line in the league.
Sullivan interviewed early on and apparently had a great interview. He was scheduled for a three hour interview, but it stretched out to six hours. In addition to his coaching, he is known as a great community guy. He earned Tampa’s Community Person of the Year as a player in 1993, and was a finalist for NFL’s Man of the Year in 1996. He also created a scholarship program for students in his alma mater St. Francis De Sales, in Chicago. He obviously made a great impression so that would be an interesting turn.
The Chicago Bulls had themselves an interesting week. They faced the Charlotte Bobcats, the Orlando Magic, and the Miami Heat last week. Looking at that, you would have figured maybe a 2-1 record and you would be right. Which two teams they beat you would probably be wrong.
The Bulls had a New Year’s Eve date with the Bobcats-the same Bobcats who owned an eighteen game losing streak. In their previous game, the Bobcats blew a 21-point lead and lost against the New Orleans Hornets (or Pelicans, I forget).
This time the Bobcats looked like a playoff contending team, handling the Bulls 91-81. They controlled the game throughout and survived several Bulls’ comeback attempts to snap the 2nd longest losing streak in franchise history.
Luol Deng led the Bulls with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists. Carlos Boozer had another double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds.
It was an embarrassing end to a tough calendar year that saw them go from title contender to also-rans with the injury of leader Derrick Rose. Without Rose the Bulls have suffered long stretches of inconsistencies.
The loss was their 3rd in 4 games.
On Wednesday, the Bulls traveled to Orlando. They were without Joakim Noah, who suffered from the flu. It was good to see that the aforementioned Rose accompanied the team on their trip, the first time he has done so this season.
Even without their vocal leader, the Bulls found a way to turn back the Magic, coming away with a 96-94 victory.
The Bulls again ran to a big lead, and then held on for dear life for the win. They had an eleven point lead after three quarters, and ultimately won by a basket.
Carlos Boozer led with another double-double, scoring 31 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Deng scored 23 points. Taj Gibson had a monster game in place of Noah, getting 21 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. It was a good bounce back game for the Bulls after being embarrassed by the Bobcats. It also helped them avoid facing a possible three game losing streak as they traveled down to Miami to face the World Champions Miami Heat.
Ah, yes, the Miami Heat against the Chicago Bulls. No love lost between the two teams. The game on Friday was another chapter in the rivalry, another intense, playoff-atmosphere type game.
The Bulls came away with an improbable 96-89 victory over the Chumps, err Champs, largely behind the 48-28 rebounding edge (19-4 in offensive rebounds) they owned.
Once again it was Boozer who starred for the Bulls. He scored 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. It continues a trend for Boozer who, dare I say, is playing an All-Star caliber game this season.
The Bulls became only the third team to beat the Heat in Miami this season. Time and time again, they outworked Miami, getting 20 second chance points to the Heat’s 7.
The Bulls know their best shot at beating the Heat without Rose is being physical, and that they were.
Deng score just 6 points but his sole concentration on the game was to hound Lebron James. James scored his points (30) but he was working hard with Deng over him all game long.
The Bulls seemed to frustrate the Heat, as James and Dwyane Wade were bickering with the officials for most of the second half. At one point, an official yelled at James telling him enough, and to cut it out.
It was a great win for the Bulls, who ran their record to 18-13. The players took note of the victory. “It always feels good to beat the Heat, said Noah. “We haven’t been playing great basketball and this is probably our biggest win of the year against the defending champs. It feels good.”
After the game, the Bulls announced the signing of former Heat player and former 3-point shooting champion Daequan Cook. He could help with some of the shooting problems the Bulls have had as of late.
The Bulls are currently 2nd in the Central Division, half a game behind the Indiana Pacers.
Coming up this week, they have the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. They play the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday before playing a back-to-back, Friday at New York to face the Knicks for the third time, and back home on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns. Hopefully that win against the Heat can get the Bulls rolling.
Hooray! The hockey lockout is over! The players and owners agree on a tentative agreement. Details have not been announced and the agreement still needs to be presented to all the owners and the entire players’ union for ratification, but it looks like there just might be hockey this season. I will keep you posted.
Well, that is it for this week. Until next week, enjoy the BCS National Championship.