Bears

Somber Rose sets tone for Bulls

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Somber Rose sets tone for Bulls

If ever there was a time for Derrick Rose to put on his happy face it was Tuesday night at the United Center.

Rose needed to muster the best acting performance of his career when he limped to center court to present the game ball before Game 2. While he tried, Rose's face looked somber as he walked off the court. The impression left on the sell-out crowd -- and his teammates -- seemed to set the tone for the evening.

Then to tug on our heart strings even more, Rose, who is sidelined for the rest of the postseason and beyond with a torn ACL, was seen sitting in his family's suite by himself. Thankfully, his mother, Brenda, and others arrived to take the edge off the melancholy that permeated the building.

At one point, I even spied Rose laughing with his mom as he watched his teammates play competitive ball in the first half. I had a glimmer of hope that things would get better. Sure, the Bulls allowed the Sixers to shoot 53 percent from the field in the opening two quarters, but they had the lead at halftime and all seemed right with the world.

Until the third quarter began.

The Bulls spent a lot of time before Tuesday's Game 2 finding motivation in Rose's absence on the court by wanting to prove the doubters wrong and play hard for their teammate whom they think of as a brother. Kyle Korver wrote a note of encouragement on his Facebook page. Scottie Pippen penned an open letter to the team on the Bulls' website. Both had the message of fighting through adversity and believing in each other.

Even Philadelphia was bracing for a double dose of Bulls energy.

Its going to be a lot of emotion (to start the game), noted Elton Brand before the game. The city has been following this (Rose injury). Ive got a lot of friends here and theyve been telling me. The team is going to want to show, Hey, we love Derrick. We have his back. Were playing for him. We can still win a championship. There will be a lot of emotion in the building.

There was a lot of something in the building Tuesday night, but it's not what we were expecting. The Bulls were supposed to be riding a wave of inspiration, instead they looked emotionally broken. Afterwards, Bulls players said they were shocked by the outcome. Angry, disappointed and emabarrassed were a few of the other words bantered about in the locker room.

The Bulls will have to move beyond sentiment now and get back to playing the type of basketball they managed for 27 games without Rose in the regular season. Inspirational speeches and letters are nice, but they don't make the ball go in the basket. Instead of fighting through adversity, the Bulls buckled under it.

Maybe a smiling Rose a center court wouldn't have changed a thing. Maybe we all need to set our feeling-sorry-for-the-kid emotions aside and focus on the task at hand.

As Luol Deng said emphatically after the game, "Derrick's not here! We're a new team now." Only they need to play like the old team come Game 3 Friday.

Under Center Podcast: Bears trounced by Saints, and questions abound

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USA Today Sports

Under Center Podcast: Bears trounced by Saints, and questions abound

Laurence Holmes is joined by Olin Kreutz, Matt Forte, Lance Briggs, and Alex Brown to break down the Bears' highly dispiriting 36-25 loss to the Saints at Soldier Field. The guys discuss why the loss was so disappointing and frustrating (2:00), the lack of progress for many players since last year (5:00), the possibility of somebody other than Nagy calling plays (10:00), whether the Bears can save their season and still make the playoffs (14:00), and the massive problems in the run game this season (22:00).

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Another lackluster return from Mitch Trubisky leaves the Bears offense in a state of panic

Another lackluster return from Mitch Trubisky leaves the Bears offense in a state of panic

Given Sunday’s parallels to the Bears’ 2018 clunker against the Rams, the spotlight on QB Mitch Trubisky may have been even brighter against the Saints than it usually is – which is saying something. 

Four quarters, 250 yards and one blowout loss later, the only thing that’s changed is that the Bears no longer have the luxury of hiding another subpar performance from their franchise quarterback behind a monstrous, game-changing defense. Trubisky’s numbers against New Orleans look better on paper, but the eye test told a much different – or similar, technically – story. 

“It's hard to pinpoint it,” he said after the 36-25 loss. “Just frustrating, ugly. Couldn't swing momentum in our way – couldn't really get going. Just sputtered out. We've just got to find ways to stay on the field, especially after 3rd down and move the chains and get going."

“I want to go back, watch and see like progression-wise [how he did],” Matt Nagy added. “I know there's one there early in the game where we missed a corner route on 3rd down, and Mitch knows -- he knows that he can connect on that. We've connected on it a lot in practice.” 

That specific miss sums up much of what’s plagued Trubisky through his time in Chicago. On 3rd-and-6, with Taylor Gabriel finding separation on a 20-yard corner route, the QB rushes through his throwing motion and misses an easy first down. 

“I'm going to go back and watch it because that's one of my favorite throws,” Trubisky said. “And I hit that every single time this week in practice, so why it didn't translate to the game is really frustrating for me. I felt like that's an easy throw that I make easily, and I just wasn't on the same page and didn't put it in the spot to give my guy a chance.” 

Another miss – this time overthrowing Anthony Miller on a seam route – provided a great example of the communication issues that have plagued the passing game. Miller had a step on two defenders, but according to Nagy and Trubisky, cut in on the route when the play directed that he cut out. 

“That's one of Anthony's really good routes that he runs,” Trubisky said. “And he separates and gets open, and I just felt like I had to get the ball out within that time because they created pressure up front. Someone slipped through, and from what I can remember, he just went inside, so I tried to throw a tight seam and give him a chance. But I was on the ground after that, so I'm going to have to go back on the film and watch it and correct it.” 

“Those are plays that you look at and you just -- you'd like to convert on those and connect.,” added Nagy.

The coach also conceded that Trubisky looked rusty on some throws, but was quick to credit the quarterback for making others (he didn’t specify which). Still, silver linings were little consolation to the Bears on Sunday night, and will continue to mean less and less as the season goes on. For being a team that supposedly has great weeks of practice, plenty of questions remain about where all that goes on Sundays. 

“Why it's not translating, I don't have a theory,” Trubisky added. “All I know is, go back to work and make sure that you put in all that work during the week to make sure it translates.”

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