Bears

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Timberwolves

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Timberwolves

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 12:51 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Coming off the disappointing home loss to Philadelphia, Thibodeau talked about the need for the Bulls to start games with more energy and get back to their usual defensive mentality, something they had gotten away from even in the two wins before the 76ers came to town. Just the readiness to start. We had gone through a long stretch of playing pretty well and then we had the two blowout wins and I think our edge wasnt the same coming out. it starts with our defense. When our defense isnt up to parwe thought were going to come in and were going to outscore peoplethats not good for us, said Thibodeau. We have to tighten things up defensively. When we defend and we rebound, we usually play well. So, that was the biggest concernallowing teams to get going and once they get going, theyre much harder to slow downso weve got to try to make it harder on teams to start the game.

2. Thibodeau didnt take the bait when asked about the Heats shocking loss to the Cavaliersin LeBron James second trip back to ClevelandTuesday night, which helped the Bulls increase their first-place Eastern Conference lead and put Miami a half-game behind Boston. Everybody has their own things that they have to worry about and I think its another example that any team is capable of beating you, and so, for us, our readiness to play is critical and we have to correct it, said Thibodeau. But you see it all the time. You see it in every sport and you have to be ready to play.

3. Thibodeau also discussed the fantastic season Timberwolves All-Star power forward Kevin Lovethe third-year player is questionable for Wednesdays gameis having, which has already included a 30-point, 30-rebound game and a historic 53-game double-double streak. The year that hes had has been unbelievable. You average 20 points and 15 rebounds in this league, that says a lot. It also says a lot about him, how hes improved from year to year, to where he is now. Hes a guy that plays hard all the time, you can see that he continues to improve as he goes forward, explained Thibodeau. I had an opportunity to watch Love and his own star, Derrick Rose with Team USA and I think those guys benefited a lot from that experience. The way they practiced and the way they performed as a team, I thought, really helped all of those guys. It was an extremely well-coached team, they had great veteran leadership in Billups and I think all those guys benefited from that. And of course, the team success. It gave them a head start on the season. They came into training camp in great shape, great rhythm and it was all good for them.

4. Rose, who was in the same highly-touted high school class as Love, talked about his friendship with the Timberwolves star and his impressions of his development. To play in this league, youve got to have confidence and his confidence is very high right now. Every night, hes doing a great job being consistent, rebounding, shooting the ball better from the three, just being a leader. You can just see when hes on the court, theres a big difference, observed Rose. Rose and Love have been friends ever since high school, I always played against him: AAU, college. Being out in L.A., just always with us working out in Los Angeles with trainer Rob McClanaghan, eating brunch with him, dinner with him, Team USA. Im always around him. Im real good friends with his dad former NBA player Stan Love, too. Continued Rose: The way he works, man. You should see how hard he goes. Like when we work out, we dont do any big-man drills. We do all guard stuff with me and Russ Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, Loves college teammate at UCLA. You probably dont think about that, but its amazing how hard he works.

5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

10-20codyparkey.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”