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Column: Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields says ‘my job is not to call pass plays’ after attempting only 11 passes in a lopsided loss

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Matt Eberflus reinforced the obvious Wednesday afternoon before the Chicago Bears went back to work on the practice field at Halas Hall.

The offense needs to achieve balance with play distribution if it’s going to have any chance to get rolling.

“I don’t think that’s really a force issue,” the coach said. “That’s what we need to have. We need to have balance in your offense, in the run/pass calls, and we’ll get that.”

The Bears attempted only 11 passes Sunday in a 27-10 loss to the Green Bay Packers, only the second time since the beginning of the Mike Ditka era in 1982 the team put the ball in the air less than 13 times.

An offense that had a critical lack of explosive plays in 2021 has picked up where it left, and while the sample size is small, the start does not paint a picture of progress. Here’s where the Bears offense ranks after two games:

  • Plays: 31st
  • Yards: 32nd
  • Yards per play: 29th
  • Third down: 27th
  • Scoring: T-26th
  • Passing yards: 32nd
  • Yards per passing attempt: T-29th
  • Completion percentage: 31st
  • Passer rating: 31st
  • Time of possession: 30th

The only thing the Bears can hang their hat on: They rank eighth in the league in rushing. If you didn’t know better, you might wonder if they are fixated on playing checkers while everyone else is playing chess.

Quarterback Justin Fields said he is “changing up his whole routine” after the latest loss gnawed at him. He said he’s waking up at 5:45 a.m., about an hour earlier than usual, and spending even more time in preparation.

Fields didn’t criticize offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who speaks with the media on Thursdays, after getting so few chances to throw the ball in a game in which the Bears trailed by two scores or more for 34 minutes. But was it a sign the staff lacks faith in Fields as a passer?

“I don’t think so,” Fields said. “Our run game did a great job on Sunday.

“These (coaches) have been in the league for I don’t know how long. They know what they’re doing. None of it’s going to work if I don’t trust it, if the players, ourselves, if we don’t trust the coaches. We trust the coaches. They know what they’re doing. We just go out there and play.”

With so few pass attempts — the San Francisco 49ers are 31st in the league with 52, 24 more than the Bears — wide receiver Darnell Mooney has been an afterthought. He has been targeted five times and has two receptions for 4 yards. Tight end Cole Kmet hasn’t caught a pass.

“My job is not to call pass plays,” Fields said. “My job is not to make sure Darnell has five catches each game. That’s not my job. My job is to get the play and run it to the best of my ability.”

That’s fair. But Fields surely watches other games around the league and sees how offenses are attacking and challenging defenses. Those who have found unique ways to defend the Bears’ offensive approach for years will remind you the opener against the 49ers was played in a driving rainstorm. That’s true. The offense then threw six fewer passes Sunday on a perfect evening for football at Lambeau Field, and you have to go back to 1978 to find the last time a team attempted only 28 passes through two games.

The only way Fields is going to grow as a passer and develop better timing is to — you got it — throw the ball.

“Yeah, maybe,” he said. “But my No. 1 priority in my job is to run the plays like I’m taught to and to execute them at the best of my ability and to ultimately win games. So if our offensive coordinator thinks the plays he’s giving me are going to help us win games, that’s all I care about.”

Fields was engaging Wednesday and seemed eager to share how much the loss to the Packers bothered him. He didn’t criticize anyone else — also a smart move — and made it clear he’s doing his part to help work the offense out of an early but deep rut.

“I have more time during the day,” he said. “Just being able to study more, being able to look at our stuff more. I think that’s going to, just those little tidbits of being able to process stuff more and being able to take in more stuff, is just going to allow me to be better prepared for Sunday.”

Perhaps that will lead to a little balance for an offense that already is out of sorts.

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Final designs revealed for proposed Mississippi Learning Center at St. Paul’s Crosby Farm Park

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Architectural Rendering Of The Proposed Mississippi River Learning Center To Be Built Near Crosby Farm Regional Park In St. Paul.
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To unveil the final designs for the Mississippi Learning Center planned for St. Paul’s Crosby Farm Park, the city of St. Paul and the Great River Passage Conservancy hosted a celebratory event this week at Watergate Marina.

Undated architectural rendering, circa October 2022, of the proposed Mississippi River Learning Center to be built near Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul.  (Courtesy of W Architecture)

The goal of the project is to make the Mississippi River more accessible to visitors, providing the space to wade in the water, launch a boat, and from above, hike an elevated walkway that provides a variety of viewpoints of the waterway.

With the vision for the area complete, organizers plan to spend the next six months diving deeper into the details, such as establishing roles, developing ideas for community programming and requesting the funding from the state Legislature necessary to make it all happen.

“It really does get at being able to touch the water, creating a very, very safe space for people to adults and children who like to paddle in the summertime and to walk across in the wintertime,” said Mary deLaittre, executive director of the Great River Passage Conservancy. “Experiencing nature is very important for us.”

Architectural Rendering Of The Proposed Mississippi River Learning Center To Be Built Near Crosby Farm Regional Park In St. Paul.
Undated architectural rendering, circa October 2022, of the proposed Mississippi River Learning Center to be built near Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul. (Courtesy of W Architecture)

The River Learning Center would be owned by the city, with the various tenants leasing space and covering operational expenses.

The overall project, whose cost hasn’t been finalized, is to be funded with public and private resources. The city unsuccessfully sought $20 million in state bonding money during the 2022 legislative session.

Along with the River Learning Center project, the Great River Passage Conservancy is planning for two more major projects along the St. Paul riverfront.

There are proposals for a quarter-mile promenade along the downtown bluffs called the River Balcony and a design to connect the East Side River District, including Pig’s Eye Lake, with the rest of the city.

Architectural Rendering Of The Proposed Mississippi River Learning Center To Be Built Near Crosby Farm Regional Park In St. Paul.
Undated architectural rendering, circa October 2022, of the proposed Mississippi River Learning Center to be built near Crosby Farm Regional Park in St. Paul.  (Courtesy of W Architecture)
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Bears at Vikings picks: Expect an ugly game … and a Vikings victory

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Bears At Vikings Picks: Expect An Ugly Game … And A Vikings Victory
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Pioneer Press reporters who cover the Vikings forecast Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium:

DANE MIZUTANI

Vikings 17, Bears 10: It won’t be pretty, but the Vikings are better than the Bears and they will prove it on Sunday.

JOHN SHIPLEY

Vikings 22, Bears 16: The Vikings are developing a knack for beating second-division NFL teams. Here’s another pelt for their belts.

CHRIS TOMASSON

Vikings 23, Bears 20: Once again, it might not be pretty for the Vikings against an outmanned foe. But they will manage to move to 3-0 in the NFC North for the first time since 2015. And they won the division that year

CHARLEY WALTERS

Vikings 24, Bears 10: Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison could total 150 yards rushing against the NFL’s worst run defense.

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Bears hope to continue U.S. Bank Stadium mastery of Vikings on Sunday

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Bears Hope To Continue U.s. Bank Stadium Mastery Of Vikings On Sunday
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BEARS (2-2) AT VIKINGS (3-1)

Kickoff: Noon Sunday

Where: U.S. Bank Stadium

TV: KMSP-Channel 9; Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink

Radio: KFXN-FM 100.3; Paul Allen, Pete Bercich, Ben Leber

Referee: Shawn Hochuli

Series: Vikings lead 62-57-2

Line: Vikings by 7 1/2

The Vikings will go for their third straight win and try to raise their record to 3-0 against NFC North opponents. Minnesota, which already defeated Green Bay and Detroit at home, has all its home division games early in the season and all its road games late.

The Bears have managed a 2-2 record despite being outscored by 13 points overall and having continued struggles on both offense and defense. On offense, quarterback Justin Fields has been effective at times using his legs but has thrown for just 471 yards. On defense, the Bears are giving up an average of 183.3 yards rushing per game.

The Vikings will try to take advantage of Chicago’s shaky run defense with Dalvin Cook, who carried 20 times for 76 yards in last Sunday’s 28-25 win over New Orleans in London after coming back from a shoulder injury suffered in the win over the Lions the week before. But the Vikings also have plenty of weapons through the air, with Kirk Cousins throwing for 273 yards against the Saints and Justin Jefferson making 10 catches for 147 yards.

The Bears have won three of the past four games over the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. December home losses to Chicago in 2018 and 2020 were very damaging, and ended up keeping the Vikings out of the playoffs.

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How will OPEC+ cuts affect gas prices, inflation?

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How Will Opec+ Cuts Affect Gas Prices, Inflation?
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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Major oil-producing countries led by Saudi Arabia and Russia have decided to slash the amount of oil they deliver to the global economy.

And the law of supply and demand suggests that can only mean one thing: higher prices are on the way for crude, and for the diesel fuel, gasoline and heating oil that are produced from oil.

The decision by the OPEC+ alliance to cut 2 million barrels a day starting next month comes as the Western allies are trying to cap the oil money flowing into Moscow’s war chest after it invaded Ukraine.

Here is what to know about the OPEC+ decision and what it could mean for the economy and the oil price cap:

WHY IS OPEC+ CUTTING PRODUCTION?

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman says that the alliance is being proactive in adjusting supply ahead of a possible downturn in demand because a slowing global economy needs less fuel for travel and industry.

“We are going through a period of diverse uncertainties which could come our way, it’s a brewing cloud,” he said, and OPEC+ sought to remain “ahead of the curve.” He described the group’s role as “a moderating force, to bring about stability.”

Oil prices had fallen after a summer of highs. Now, after the OPEC+ decision, they are heading for their biggest weekly gain since March. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 3.2% on Friday, to $91.31 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 2.8% to $97.09, though it’s still down 20% from mid-June, when it traded at over $123 per barrel.

One big reason for the slide is fears that large parts of the global economy are slipping into recession as high energy prices — for oil, natural gas and electricity — drive inflation and rob consumers of spending power.

Another reason: The summer highs came about because of fears that much of Russia’s oil production would be lost to the market over the war in Ukraine.

As Western traders shunned Russian oil even without sanctions, customers in India and China bought those barrels at a steep discount, so the hit to supply wasn’t as bad as expected.

Oil producers are wary of a sudden collapse in prices if the global economy goes downhill faster than expected. That’s what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and during the global financial crisis in 2008-2009.

HOW IS THE WEST TARGETING RUSSIAN OIL?

The U.S. and Britain imposed bans that were mostly symbolic because neither country imported much Russia oil. The White House held off pressing the European Union for an import ban because EU countries got a quarter of their oil from Russia.

In the end, the 27-nation bloc decided to cut off Russian oil that comes by ship on Dec. 5, while keeping a small amount of pipeline supplies that some Eastern European countries rely on.

Beyond that, the U.S. and other Group of Seven major democracies are working out the details on a price cap on Russian oil. It would target insurers and other service providers that facilitate oil shipments from Russia to other countries. The EU approved a measure along those lines this week.

Many of those providers are based in Europe and would be barred from dealing with Russian oil if the price is above the cap.

HOW WILL OIL CUTS, PRICE CAPS AND EMBARGOES CLASH?

The idea behind the price cap is to keep Russian oil flowing to the global market, just at lower prices. Russia, however, has threatened to simply stop deliveries to a country or companies that observe the cap. That could take more Russian oil off the market and push prices higher.

That could push costs at the pump higher, too.

U.S. gasoline prices that soared to record highs of $5.02 a gallon in mid-June had been falling recently, but they have been on the rise again, posing political problems for President Joe Biden a month before midterm elections.

Biden, facing inflation at near 40-year highs, had touted the falling pump prices. Over the past week, the national average price for a gallon rose 9 cents, to $3.87. That’s 65 cents more than Americans were paying a year ago.

“It’s a disappointment, and we’re looking at what alternatives we may have,” he told reporters about the OPEC+ decision.

WILL THE OPEC PRODUCTION CUT MAKE INFLATION WORSE?

Likely yes. Brent crude should reach $100 per barrel by December, says Jorge Leon, senior vice president at Rystad Energy. That is up from an earlier prediction of $89.

Part of the 2 million-barrel-per-day cut is only on paper as some OPEC+ countries aren’t able to produce their quota. So the group can deliver only about 1.2 million barrels a day in actual cuts.

That’s still going to have a “significant” effect on prices, Leon said.

“Higher oil prices will inevitably add to the inflation headache that global central banks are fighting, and higher oil prices will factor into the calculus of further increasing interest rates to cool down the economy,” he wrote in a note.

That would exacerbate an energy crisis in Europe largely tied to Russian cutbacks of natural gas supplies used for heating, electricity and in factories and would send gasoline prices up worldwide. As that fuels inflation, people have less money to spend on other things like food and rent.

Other factors also could affect oil prices, including the depth of any possible recession in the U.S. or Europe and the duration of China’s COVID-19 restrictions, which have sapped demand for fuel.

WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR RUSSIA?

Analysts say that Russia, the biggest producer among the non-OPEC members in the alliance, would benefit from higher oil prices ahead of a price cap. If Russia has to sell oil at a discount, at least the reduction starts at a higher price level.

High oil prices earlier this year offset much of Russia’s sales lost from Western buyers avoiding its supply. The country also has managed to reroute some two-thirds of its typical Western sales to customers in places like India.

But then Moscow saw its take from oil slip from $21 billion in June to $19 billion in July to $17.7 billion in August as prices and sales volumes fell, according to the International Energy Agency. A third of Russia’s state budget comes from oil and gas revenue, so the price caps would further erode a key source of revenue.

Meanwhile, the rest of Russia’s economy is shrinking due to sanctions and the withdrawal of foreign businesses and investors.

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Another month of solid US hiring suggests more big Fed hikes

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Another Month Of Solid Us Hiring Suggests More Big Fed Hikes
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By PAUL WISEMAN

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers slowed their hiring in September but still added 263,000 jobs, a solid figure that will likely keep the Federal Reserve on pace to keep raising interest rates aggressively to fight persistently high inflation.

Friday’s government report showed that hiring fell from 315,000 in August to the weakest monthly gain since April 2021. The unemployment rate fell from 3.7% to 3.5%, matching a half-century low.

The Fed is hoping that slower job growth would mean less pressure on employers to raise pay and pass those costs on to their customers through price increases — a recipe for high inflation. But September’s pace of hiring was likely too robust to satisfy the central bank’s inflation fighters.

In September, hourly wages rose 5% from a year earlier, the slowest year-over-year pace since December but still hotter than the Fed would want. The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are looking for one slipped slightly, a disappointment for those hoping that more people would enter the labor force and help ease worker shortages and upward pressure on wages.

The jobs report “was still likely too strong to allow (Fed) policymakers much breathing room,” said Matt Peron, director of research at Janus Henderson Investors.

Likewise, Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said she didn’t expect September’s softer jobs and wage numbers to stop the Fed from raising its benchmark short-term rate in November by an unusually large three-quarters of a point for a fourth consecutive time — and by an additional half-point in December.

Last month, restaurants and bars added 60,000 jobs, as did healthcare companies. State and local governments cut 27,000 jobs. Retailers, transportation and warehouse companies reduced employment modestly.

The public anxiety that has arisen over high prices and the prospect of a recession is carrying political consequences as President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party struggles to maintain control of Congress in November’s midterm elections.

In its epic battle to rein in inflation, the Fed has raised its benchmark interest rate five times this year. It is aiming to slow economic growth enough to reduce annual price increases back toward its 2% target.

It has a long way to go. In August, one key measure of year-over-year inflation, the consumer price index, amounted to 8.3%. And for now, consumer spending — the primary driver of the U.S. economy — is showing resilience. In August, consumers spent a bit more than in July, a sign that the economy was holding up despite rising borrowing rates, violent swings in the stock market and inflated prices for food, rent and other essentials.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has warned bluntly that the inflation fight will “bring some pain,” notably in the form of layoffs and higher unemployment. Some economists remain hopeful that despite the persistent inflation pressures, the Fed will still manage to achieve a so-called soft landing: Slowing growth enough to tame inflation, without going so far as to tip the economy into recession.

It’s a notoriously difficult task. And the Fed is trying to accomplish it at a perilous time. The global economy, weakened by food shortages and surging energy prices resulting from Russia’s war against Ukraine, may be on the brink of recession. Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, warned Thursday that the IMF is downgrading its estimates for world economic growth by $4 trillion through 2026 and that “things are more likely to get worse before it gets better.’’

Powell and his colleagues on the Fed’s policymaking committee want to see signs that the abundance of available jobs — there’s currently an average of 1.7 openings for every unemployed American — will steadily decline. Some encouraging news came this week, when the Labor Department reported that job openings fell by 1.1 million in August to 10.1 million, the fewest since June 2021.

On the other hand, by any standard of history, openings remain extraordinarily high: In records dating to 2000, they had never topped 10 million in a month until last year.

Friday’s report underscored how resilient the job market remains.

“The U.S. labor market continues to decelerate, but there are no signs that it’s stalling out,’’ said Nick Bunker, head of economic research at the Indeed Hiring Lab. “Payroll growth is no longer at the jet speed we saw last year, but employment is still growing quickly.”

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GBPUSD’s latest decline attempts to break and stay below the 200 hourly MA again

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Gbpusd'S Latest Decline Attempts To Break And Stay Below The 200 Hourly Ma Again
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GBPUSD is trading above and below the 200 hourly moving average

Focusing on the hourly chart above, the pair is back below the 200 hourly MA and is currently trading at 1.1109.

GBPUSD tested the broken 38.2% retracement and the former trendline

Last week, GPBUSD closed at 1.1183. This week’s high price stalled just before the 1.1500 level before reversing lower over the past few days. Current prices have moved lower over the week, but still well above last week’s low which hit 1.0353.

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