Bulls

Cutler Unable to Hit Open Targets

Cutler Unable to Hit Open Targets

Monday, November 23rd

Bears Still In Hunt for Playoffs at 4-6, What, Am I Missing Something?

This is not a wide open lay up like Jay Cutler missed tonight. Technically, the Bears are still in the hunt for postseason play, but they would need some serious help like every NFC team contracting H1N1. At the very least, every team on the Bears remaining schedule to have an outside shot. When you look back on the season so far, realistically, the Bears should be 7-3 or 6-4 at worst. It is unfortunate because the Bears and Jay Cutler are much better than they have displayed on the field.

Make the Play

There are no do overs in the National Football League. It is a results oriented business where giving it the Old College Try does not cut it. Just ask former head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Dick Jauron. Jauron tried to win football games, just like Jay Cutler tried to complete passes to wide open receivers. When your opportunity is there to make a play, you have to come through. No one can blame Offensive Coordinator, Ron Turner, tonight for this outcome. He dialed up three sure TD calls that Jay has to complete.

Who knows, maybe Philly folds if Jay finds pay dirt along with boosting his confidence in the process. Think of how the game would have changed. The Bears would have been playing with a lead which dramatically changes play calling on both sidelines.

Footwork

I think I have harped on this enough, but Im sure you clearly witnessed what I have been talking about tonight. If Jay sets his feet and throws on balance, he is going to the podium with a 3 TD night. It would have restored faith, but more importantly, deflected criticism from a player who could use a breather. Tonights performance only raises the level of concern to defcon 4. Jays bad habits have to be corrected if he is to succeed in this town or any other NFL city. QB coach Pep Hamilton has to incorporate a series of drills to clean up Jays game from the waist down. His lively hood depends on it in relation to GM Jerry Angelos year end evaluations.

Decisions

Jay had a one on one meeting with Ron Turner early this week as predicted. It must have went over like a lead balloon because the decision making was lacking again tonight. Jay was forcing the football again and was lucky not to walk away with another 4 interception performance. The play that I find most unsettling was the first overthrow to Greg Olsen in the first half. The play is Zero Strong Slot, K-2 Y Bow. A play action pass where Greg runs a corner route and the FB eludes the end man on the line of scrimmage looking for the ball quick in the flat. The Eagles blitzed the TE side and technically the ball should have been thrown hot to FB Jason McKie. It is the easier throw and he might have turned up the sideline for a score. Jay decided to ignore the first read and although Greg was open, he has to hit it because he chose to go against the integrity of the play. Again, Jay must learn to weigh the risk and rewards of his decision making. He was fading away on the throw trying to negotiate the blitzer when he could have set up and delivered the ball on balance to the FB before the blitzer was ever an issue. If you make the riskier decision, you better make the play! They know the rules of the play as well and will now just see a replay repeatedly of a ball going incomplete over the outreached hands of Greg Olsen. Situational play and footwork cannot be emphasized enough with Jay.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.