This week in former Bears (12/10 – 12/17)

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Mike Morbeck/Creative Commons

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Aaron Rodgers: Aaron Rodgers’ return from injury would be short-lived, as the quarterback has been placed on IR, effectively ending his season. Having only played seven games, this is the first time Rodgers has failed to crack double-digits in games played since the 2013-14 season.

The Green Bay Packers entered Sunday’s affair with the Carolina Panthers on the outside of the playoff hunt looking in, needing to run the table for a chance at the postseason. The MVP had his fair share of opportunities to fling the pigskin, but he had a very un-Rodgers-like performance, throwing three interceptions on the afternoon. Heading into play, Rodgers only had three interceptions the entire season.

With Green Bay’s playoff hopes officially dashed, the team will look for greener pastures in 2018. Prior to the injury, Rodgers looked like the elite gunslinger who brought home a championship, totaling 1367 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his passes in his first five games. In those five games, Green Bay had a record of 4-1.

DeSean Jackson: Speaking of injuries, DeSean Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was an early exit from Monday’s match up against the Atlanta Falcons. Jackson was diagnosed with a sprained left ankle, but the severity of the sprain has yet to be determined. Following Tampa Bay’s loss, Jackson was seen in crutches and a walking boot.

Jared Goff: Jared Goff recorded the fewest passing yards of the season and matched the fewest pass attempts he’s thrown all season against the Seattle Seahawks, but Goff’s arm wasn’t necessary as the Los Angeles Rams bulldozed the Seahawks 42-7.

Despite the miniscule total, he was an efficient 14 of 21 and recorded two touchdowns on the day. Los Angeles’ dynamic running back Todd Gurley shouldered most of the offensive load, rushing for three touchdowns and a season-high 152 yards, a few short of his career-high of 159.

C.J. Anderson: C.J. Anderson set a season high in rushing yards, totaling 158 on 30 attempts in the Denver Broncos’ 25-13 win over the Indianapolis Colts. This was the first time Anderson eclipsed the 100-yard mark on the ground since week two.

Jaylen Brown: Jaylen Brown has continued to play an integral role for a young and hungry Boston Celtics team, averaging 13.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals while shooting 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from three in his last five games. Brown’s best performance in that span came against the Denver Nuggets as the 21-year-old dropped 26 points, one short of his season-high, on 9 of 12 shooting from the field.

Brown has taken a drastic leap in just his second season in the league, averaging 14.5/5.8/1.2 (points, rebounds, assists). As a shooter, Brown has been drastically better than initially advertised coming into the league, currently shooting a few ticks under 40 percent from downtown.

For the strides Brown has taken on offense, his improvements on the defensive end of the floor have arguably been more impressive. In only 31 games, Brown has accumulated 1.5 Defensive Win Shares, eclipsing last season’s total of 1.3 with 51 games remaining.

Ryan Anderson: While the Golden State Warriors are dubbed the leaders of the NBA’s 3-point revolution because of the unparalleled sharpshooting of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, it is the Houston Rockets who live and die by the three-ball. Ryan Anderson knows a thing or three about knocking down the triple, and since the return of Chris Paul, he’s knocked down this shot with increased efficiency.

In 14 games without Paul, Anderson shot 42 percent from the field and 36 percent from three. In 14 games with Paul, Anderson shot 47 percent from the field and 45 percent from three. Those are the perks of playing with one of the best point guards of all time.

Paul’s return from injury has sparked Houston’s current 14-game winning streak, and in that period, Anderson has averaged 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the field and 47 percent from three. As they say, shooters shoot.

Allen Crabbe: Allen Crabbe couldn’t have found himself in a better situation to prove he’s worth the four-year, $75 million contract he signed before the start of last season. With Jeremy Lin out for the season and D’Angelo Russell’s recovery timetable still dubious, the Brooklyn Nets needed Crabbe to step up and take shots.

Since Russell went down, Crabbe has increased his shot volume by approximately two per game, and he has done so on increased efficiency. In the 12 games without both Lin and Russell, Crabbe is averaging 13.8 points per game while hitting 41 percent of his shots from the field and 40 percent from deep, an improvement from his first handful of games this season.

Despite Crabbe’s increase in production, his game still leaves a lot to be desired. On the season, he’s posting the worst shooting splits since his second season in the league.

Ivan Rabb and Jabari Bird: Jabari Bird and Ivan Rabb have each had their cup of coffee in the NBA, but they have yet to receive significant playing time, with the former playing 21 total minutes and the latter playing three.

In the G-League, however, both members of Cal’s former dynamic duo have flexed their muscles. In 14 games with the Maine Red Claws — the G-League affiliate of the Boston Celtics — Bird is averaging 21.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 52 percent from the field. In 13 games with the Memphis Hustle — the G-League affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies — Rabb is averaging 16.7 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 59 percent from the field.

Bird being drafted by Boston has been both a blessing and a curse. The Celtics are one of the league’s most storied franchises, but the team has a gluttony of guards even while missing Gordon Hayward for the season. Bird may etch out a future for himself in the league, but that future may not be with the Celtics, barring a couple roster moves.

Rabb, on the other hand, is in a strange situation. Memphis currently finds itself in basketball purgatory — too good to get a top-tier draft pick, but not good enough to contend for the playoffs. In what is clearly a throwaway season for the Grizzlies, the season should be spent allocating minutes to young players such as Rabb, but he has been slighted for the likes of James Ennis and Brandan Wright.

Playing time, however, may be on the horizon for Rabb. Marc Gasol’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors following the firing of David Fizdale. Should that trade happen, a vacancy will open up for a big man down low.

Justice delos Santos is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jdelossantos510