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Does Preseason Even Matter, Bro?

Jay-Cutler-BearsDoes preseason even matter? Of course it does. It has to matter. We have all been following the Bears, or our favorite team that isn’t the Bears for some reason, through training camp. We have been hearing about Jay Cutler’s improvements on the field, Lance Briggs is getting his head in the game and picking up for the now absent Brian Urlacher, and reports of Kyle Long’s rising star has become more than a murmur in sports news. The first preseason game against the Panthers is tomorrow, and we know the starts will remain on the bench for the most part. So, why do we care about preseason football? The games don’t count toward the season’s standings, we generally don’t see the stars play until perhaps the fourth game, and the games really don’t tell much about the season that’s waiting in the wings for the most part.

Everyday I'm Shufflin

Everyday I’m Shufflin

For example, the 1985 Chicago Bears lost all but one of their preseason games. Their regular season was a steam train of wins with the exception of their one loss to Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. They then went on to win Super Bowl XX, the only Super Bowl that has ever mattered in the history of Super Bowls. The 2012 Chicago Bears won all but one of their preseason games and finished third in their division behind the Vikings and the Packers, leaving the Detroit Lions in fourth place. Speaking of the Detroit Lions, in 2008 the Lions had a flawless preseason record and went on to be the only team in NFL history to lose every single regular season game.

Smells Like Team Spirit

Smells Like Team Spirit

The NFL itself has hinted at changing the preseason format for years. The 2013 preseason may cause them to reconstruct the preseason and regular season games. Turning two preseason games into two regular season games will draw more fans, get more television coverage, create a longer season, and ultimately draw more revenue from two regular season game ticket sales (as opposed to cheaper preseason games) and from advertisements during nationally televised games. Whereas increasing the number of regular season games, even by two, would create a much more interesting season of football (because who doesn’t want more regular season football?), it is going to take the support of the players and the players’ union to make it happen, so for now it is still a mere rumor.

Bear Down!

Bear Down!

For now, however, preseason is on and it’s on tomorrow! The Bears face the Panthers at seven o’clock, and we want to make sure you are doing your fan duties and getting your Bears swag ready for regular season. We want to help you with that duty. On our Facebook, we are having a Bears Tailgate Giveaway and want to give a lucky Bears fan a new Bears shirt, Bears knit cap, Bears coozy, and Bears shot glass. Head over to our Facebook page, like our page, and answer today’s trivia question to have your name put in the hat for our drawing. Contest ends August 23rd and there will be plenty of opportunities between now and then to enter our contest. Bear down, Bears fans, and GET READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!

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We Put Our Faith in Lance Briggs!

Brigg Business

Brigg Business

Since the departure of Brian Urlacher, Nick Roach, and Lovie Smith, the question hanging over the heads of football fans has been over how the defensive line will perform after such drastic change to the team. A lot of pressure has been put on linebacker Lance Briggs, and Briggs has volunteered himself for the responsibility of running the plays of the defensive line, keeping the line tight, and mentoring the rookies while making sure veteran players are focused and challenged by his leadership.

Brigg Trouble In Little Chi

Brigg Trouble In Little Chi

First, the concern about how Briggs would handle the pressure seems a little overdramatic. He has been a solid, key player for the Chicago Bears for over a decade, almost as long as Urlacher. Briggs has played twenty-five games in his career without Urlacher and was just fine. This included 2009 when Urlacher missed 15 games, the same year Briggs went to the Pro Bowl. He has missed four games in ten years. The challenge is not going to be whether or not Briggs can handle being relied on to run a defensive line; the challenge is how Briggs will manage a line of veterans and rookies under the guidance of a new coaching staff. Briggs has core teammates like Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers, and Tim Jennings returning, so the gaping absences will not be that difficult to adjust to in reality. Balancing veterans like D.J. Williams and James Anderson with rookies like Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene means using his leadership abilities with the old dogs and the new recruits.

The Brigg Chill

The Brigg Chill

His performance in training camp has brought a lot of success and Briggs recognizes when he’s fallen short or made a bad call, hoping to keep getting sharper and maintaing and building on the progress he has made. Defensive coordinator, Mel Tucker, said Briggs’s performance is “a work in progress, but it’s been getting progressively better and that’s what you want to see.” Briggs himself recognizes the challenge before him and said, “It’s different. You’ve been in a system for a long time. You’re told to change and do things a different way. It just takes time.”

The Brigg Chill

The Brigg Bang

Time is fleeting. With a week until preseason football and a month until regular season, now is the time to focus on getting skills sharpened and players focused. With this team the Bears have a shot at a Wild Card spot in the playoffs, and with Briggs leading the defense the Bears are going to be a threat. Briggs has been helping the new coaches learn the Bears system, mentoring and guiding the rookies, and rebuilding a slightly fractured yet determined defensive line. We put our faith in Lance Briggs because he’s the Bear with the talent, focus, drive, and leadership skills to drive this team to victory.

BEAR DOWN!

BEAR DOWN!

As we prepare for Bears season to begin, we are running our Bears Tailgating Giveaway! Jump over to our Facebook page, give us a like, and enter your name in the drawing to win these sweet prizes! Contest ends August 23rd, so Bear Down and get on board with this great giveaway today!

 

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Football is Coming!

We are less than a month away from regulation football, everybody!

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL, CHICAGO?

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL, CHICAGO?

Training camp is hot and happening in Bourbonnais! With a week and a half until preseason begins, the Bears face many obstacles that must be cleared in order to prepare to face-off against another team. The loss of Lovie, the departure of Urlacher, and the shaky consistency of Jay Cutler are all things that the Bears must improve in order to have a shot at the playoffs.

Steppin up!

Steppin up!

The Bears solid defense is something that needs a bit of work as they are adjusting to working without their former leader, Brian Urlacher. Tillman is looking good, Peppers is in the quarterback’s face, and Jennings is keeping himself near the ball to keep near the action. With so much speculation about how the defensive line would shape up after the losses of Urlacher and Lovie, they seem to be picking up where they left off and building on their solid foundation. Lance Briggs is stepping into Urlacher’s legendary shoes and calling plays. Mel Tucker, first year defensive coordinator for the Bears, says “[Briggs] is doing a great job with checks and the adjustments.” Maintaining solid work will definitely help the Bears on their journey to the postseason.

Bear Down, Cutler, or Bow Out

Bear Down, Cutler, or Bow Out

ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright notes that Jay Cutler’s problem is not his arm. Cutler struggles with his dropbacks, delivery, and footwork. While Cutler is definitely showing signs of improvement, when asked if he could maintain his momentum, Marc Trestman said, “We’ve got to come here and remind each other each day, ‘If we’ve got two willing guys that are willing to work with each other to do it, we’ve got the best chance.” Trestman knows there is no magic bullet with Cutler; Cutler must evolve. Evolution is a slow process, but if Cutler is already showing signs of improvement, he may have a chance of keeping his job. Along with his own performance, he must teach himself not to rely heavily on Brandon Marshall. Marshall missing a few days of training camp due to a hip injury gave Cutler a way to refocus on other receivers and allowed for other receivers to give Cutler a chance to trust them on the field. If the Bears are going to work, they must work as a team, not as a dynamic duo.

Only one dynamic duo can win a Super Bowl, and you're not Batman, Jay Cutler!

Only one dynamic duo can win a Super Bowl, and you’re not Batman, Jay Cutler!

The breakout star of training camp is Kyle Long. Reports coming from Bourbonnais say #75 is an amazing defender and a great asset to the team. He spent the offseason working on mixed martial arts fighting techniques to improve balance and stamina. He still has a lot of work to do to beat out James Brown for the starting right guard position, but he remains optimistic and focused. “I’m playing a game that kids play for fun,” Long said, “We’re blessed enough to be able to get paid. It feels great.” Training camp is fantastic, but he must really shine bright when the preseason begins August 9th.

HOLY PRIZES, BATMAN!

HOLY PRIZES, BATMAN!

We are excited for preseason and excited for the official return of the Chicago Bears on August 29th! We are so excited, in fact, that we are having a Chicago Bears Tailgating Giveaway! Head over to our Facebook page and enter to win the contest. Click here for details, and keep an eye on our Facebook page for other opportunities to enter! Bear Down, Chicago! Football season is almost here! SPORTS IS GOOD!

 

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WE ARE READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!

Okay, so winter shows up in Chicago and overstays its welcome. Around New Year’s Day, Chicago is completely done with snow, slush, cold, wind chill, poorly-heated apartments, waiting on the bus, and generally any activity that requires being outdoors. Being excited for football means, yes, we are accepting that football means winter–long, seemingly endless winter. It’s not that we want summer to end; we love pools, the beach, ice cream, sunshine, and not having to wear eight layers of clothes when we leave the apartment. However, baseball is just not doing it for us. This baseball boredom is not just sweeping Chicago, but it’s spreading throughout the country like wildfire (http://tinyurl.com/olrnon2). So, one must look ahead to the future in sports and see that the wave of the NFL is visible from the shore.

Also, the wave has a shark in it because football is totally hardcore like that!

Also, the wave has a shark in it because football is totally hardcore like that!

Training camp for the Bears starts in a week and a half and the Bears have a lot to work on to prepare for the upcoming season. With a new coach, Jay Cutler facing the end of his contract, a batch of new players, and the absence of Brian Urlacher, the Bears have a lot to adjust to before facing the Panthers on August ninth.

We loved Lovie, now we have to trust Trestman.

We loved Lovie, now we have to trust Trestman.

Of course, the first major adjustment will be to the new head coach, and possible middle-aged John Boy Walton, Marc Trestman. Lovie Smith had the ability to focus veteran players while inspiring rookie players to stand up to the challenge of becoming a part of the solid Chicago Bears roster; we do not know what Trestman has in store for the Bears. His first, and most important challenge, will undoubtedly be to whip Jay Cutler into shape. This should prove a successful task for Trestman as he was the offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders in 2002 which resulted in Raiders’ quarterback, Rich Gannon, winning that year’s NFL MVP Award, even though the Raiders lost to the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. Gannon’s 2002 season saw shattering records, throwing 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns. If Trestman could turn Gannon into a cannon, he could certainly bring out the same success in Jay Cutler.

Jay's back!

Jay’s back!

Jay Cutler, though, must be responsive and open to the changes and work hard to maintain his position on the Bears roster. This is the last year on his contract, so he must be willing to do what’s necessary to lead the Bears to the playoffs in order to keep his job. One of the main things he needs to focus on is to stop relying heavily on Brandon Marshall. Though their chemistry on the field is overpowering, his crippling reliance on Marshall is only hurting the team. Last season Marshall ended the season with 118 receptions; behind him were Earl Bennett with 29 receptions and Devin Hester with 23 receptions. Cutler needs to focus on the other players as Marshall may not always be open or may get hurt. Cutler needs to learn to keep his options open this season before the Bears decide to open up their options in next year’s off season.

This is what it sounds like when the Bears cry.

This is what it sounds like when the Bears cry.

Of course, a new coach and a quarterback in need of repair are two things that the Bears must adjust to, but one of the biggest changes is the absence of the king of the defensive line, Brian Urlacher. The Bears picked up DJ Williams and Jon Bostic in hopes of filling the big shoes of Urlacher. However, Urlacher didn’t just leave a gap in the physical defensive line, the Bears lost a leader on the field. The defense worked because Urlacher was an upstanding leader on the field. This would be the best time for Lance Briggs to step up into that role as he has the seniority, the experience, and the energy to rebuild the tight nucleus of the Bears defensive line.

Because this guy will get you pumped about football!

Because this guy will get you pumped about football!

Though the tight defensive line is in need of some minor adjustments, the offensive line needs to be fiercely restructured and refocused. The Bears are notorious for having the sloppiest offensive line in the NFL. Over the past three seasons, Jay Cutler has been sacked 113 times. You don’t have to be a football coach to know that lying on the field is not the best way to throw the ball to a teammate. It’s also not the best way to keep your quarterback in a good condition to play. Offensive linemen Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Kyle Long, J’Marcus Webb, and Roberto Garzo have a lot of work to do and a lot to prove.

"No, guys. I'll just sit here until you figure out how to keep me from getting tackled. Thanks."

“No, guys. I’ll just sit here until you figure out how to keep me from getting tackled. Thanks.”

All of these tweaks, adjustments, and changes should be focused on one goal: the playoffs. Chicago is hungry for another playoff and baseball is not providing any satisfaction for anyone on the North Side or the South Side. The Bulls made the playoffs without Derrick Rose this year, and they fought long and hard to the bitter end. They fell to the Heat but vowed to return next season to claim the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Chicago Blackhawks skated through the competition and brought the Stanley Cup back to the Windy City. No one has any hopes for baseball, but everyone has put their faith in the Chicago Bears. If Jay Cutler wants to keep his job, he has to get the Bears to the playoffs this year. If he doesn’t, the townspeople will finally revolt against the quarterback instead of sitting on their barstools and blithely bitching about his performance. Chicago is hungry for another exciting round of playoff sports and, though the NFL playoffs are a ways away, getting there takes time, focus, and practice. The Bears have ample time to get their eyes on the prize and make sure they have what it takes to get them to that goal.

Bring It On!

Bring It On!

There are a few more weeks until preseason kicks off, so be sure you are prepared with the freshest Chicago Bears gear you can get your hands on! Find this original “Bring It On” tee here (http://tinyurl.com/lshblom), or browse our vast selection of Bears gear on our website (www.clarkstreetsports.com). Get prepared for football season, and get ready to BEAR DOWN!

 

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July at Clark Street Sports

July is here and with the start of this month begins the countdown to the start of the NFL Season. In addition to the start of the Football Season, the sports world will see the second half of the MLB Season which will bring a great deal of excitement from now until the end of the baseball season.

Brandon Marshall Jersey

NFL fans, were just over 2 weeks away from the start of Training Camp (July 26) so now’s a good time for Chicagoans and Bears fans around the world to gear up for the start of the 2012 Football Season. With the return of both Jay Culter and Matt Forte (hopefully), along with Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and newcomer Brandon Marshall, the Bears will be a force to be reckoned with throughout the NFC.

Chicago Bears Shirt

Chicago Bears Traditions Flex Fit Hat

At Clark Street Sports, we sell all your favorite Bears Merchandise from Tee-Shirts and Jerseys to Hats and Jackets and everything that relates to the Bears. The best way to find your favorite Bears merchandise is with Clark Street Sports at any of our Locations (throughout Illinois and Indiana) or online at http://www.clarkstreetsports.com/.

Chicago Bears Track Jacket

Women’s Tank Top

In addition to the start of Training Camp, both Chicago of Chicago’s baseball teams will be starting the Second Half of the MLB Season. With the start of the second half of the season just around the corner, it seems there should be a great deal of interest on both sides of town as both the Cubs and Sox have a lot to look forward the next few months.

For the Cubs, the start of the Anthony Rizzo era has gotten off to a fast start and should be even better during the next few months as he adjusts to Major League pitching. In addition to Rizzo, the Cubs have a lot of other things to look forward to throughout the second half of the season which includes the continued growth of All-Stars Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHair along with a lot of other possible trades that may occur within the next 3 weeks. Cubs fans should also remember that the Hall of Fame Ceremony is approaching where Ron Santo will formally be inducted in Cooperstown on July 22, 2012. Make sure to get your Ron Santo merchandise before he’s inducted at any of our locations or online.

Cubs Anthony Rizzo Tee-Shirt

Cubs Ron Santo Tee-Shirt

As for the White Sox, they’ve put together a strong first-half of the Basball season and find themselves in first place at the All-Star Break. The Sox have received contributions from a number of players which include: A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale, and Kevin Youkilis. New Manager Robin Ventura has done a great job in  his first season managing on the South Side of Chicago it looks like the Sox will be in the AL Central race throughout the rest of the MLB season.

Robin Ventura Tee-Shirt

White Sox Paul Konerko Tee-Shirt

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