Lovie Smith, his coaching back to the wall, began training camp talking about “The Monsters of the Midway” and Chicago Bears defensive players and coaches focused on turnovers, sacks and defensive touchdowns.

Lovie Smith, his coaching back to the wall, began training camp talking about “The Monsters of the Midway” and Chicago Bears defensive players and coaches focused on turnovers, sacks and defensive touchdowns.

That’s bad, good, good and bad.

All the “Monsters” talk brings up visions of punishing hits. Forget big hits. Just tackle the guy. The Bears need better form, not more ferocity.

The worse you are at stopping a team on downs, the more you need turnovers and sacks. The Bears were 27th in third-down defense; they need a new way to get off the field.

Relying on touchdowns is no way to build a defense. The Vikings under Dennis Green led the league in defensive TDs, yet were never good on defense. The Bears scored six defensive TDs in 2008, but were they any better than last year, when they scored one? The worse your team is on offense, the more you need defensive and special team TDs. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady don’t need their defenses to score for them. The Bears, with Jay Cutler and Mike Martz, should be past that point, too. If they aren’t, then it should be past Smith’s time as coach.

Rare bad trade for White Sox

If you say GM Kenny Williams has earned the benefit of the doubt, you lose the right to criticize him later. Even good men make mistakes. This latest trade smacks of hubris, either that Williams can do no wrong or that pitching coach Don Cooper can revive the career of any hard thrower. Edwin Jackson, even at his no-hit best, walked eight batters. He has a 5.14 ERA in the easier National League this year and a 4.74 career ERA. Daniel Hudson was cheaper, better in the long run and maybe even better for the rest of this year. Lucas Harrell, who gave up one run in six innings in his first start Friday, might also be as good as the terminally wild Jackson.

Brewers a perfect role model

The Brewers have had two winning seasons in 18 years and play in the smallest market in baseball, yet they’ve drawn 3 million fans two years in a row and are on pace for 2.8 million this year. The Twins are selling out virtually every game in their new park and the long-dormant Reds lead the NL Central.

Small-market teams can compete. The Twins outdrew the Yankees between 1987 and 1994, even in the Metrodome. Baseball’s problem is limited to four cities that showed little interest in baseball, even when they had winning teams: Oakland, Miami, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh.

Area baseball talent overflows

A great year for area baseball keeps getting better. Belvidere North senior Brandon Schwebke has been invited to tryouts in Kissimmee, Fla., for the USSSA U-17 national team and North freshman Tanner Kehrer to the U-14 team. Each division features 120 players competing for 18 spots to play in the 2011 Gold Medal Cup against international teams.

Also, Cody Scarpetta (Guilford) is 6-8 with a 3.32 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 972/3 innings in the Florida State League in High Class A ball, while Jake Smolinski (Boylan), after a slow start, is hitting .246 with 3 HRs and 31 RBIs in the FSL.

Earlier, a record six NIC-10 players signed Division I scholarships and Seth Blair (Rock Falls) became the second-highest area player ever drafted (No. 46 overall) and signed Friday with the Cardinals.

Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or mtrowbridge@rrstar.com.