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.

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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Just how well did Mitch Trubisky play against New England?

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USA TODAY

Just how well did Mitch Trubisky play against New England?

Nothing Mitch Trubisky did in the Bears’ 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday shook the confidence of his coaches or teammates in the long-term outlook for their franchise quarterback. If anything, most of what he did continued to show those guys his development is trending in the right direction.

“Mitch is a good-ass quarterback,” right tackle Bobby Massie said. “He’s got ability to do a lot of things. He’s young, but he’s going to be a special player. You see glimpses of that last year, and you see more of it this year. In years to come he’s going to be a hell of a player.”

Trubisky’s final stat line is deceiving in some respects, though. He completed 26 of 50 passes, good for a completion percentage of 52 percent, for 333 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and a passer rating of 69.8. He’s now thrown for over 300 yards in three consecutive games, joining Josh McCown and Brian Hoyer as the only quarterbacks to do that in franchise history.

While taking away the last-ditch drive and completion to White — that got the Bears about a yard away from tying or winning the game — shouldn’t be completely ignored in the overall evaluation of Trubisky’s game, he completed 22 of 45 passes for 254 yards before New England’s defense sat as far back as they could with 24 seconds left.

Trubisky’s accuracy was uneven during the game, which Nagy chalked up to something that happens with a young quarterback having to throw so frequently.  

“When you throw the ball 50 times, there's going to be some that are inaccurate,” Nagy said. “This is this kid's second year in the NFL, and this is his first year in our offense. So not everything is going to be dead on. He had a good game today.”

It wasn’t good enough for the Bears to win, though, which is what ultimately counts. Yes, two special teams touchdowns were backbreaking, and the defense struggled with the Patriots’ ability to get the ball out quick and efficiently do the simple things right.

But Trubisky threw two interceptions, one when he tried to make a play on third and long and the ball appeared to bounce out of the arms of Josh Bellamy and into the waiting hands of Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson.

The other, though, came when Anthony Miller had a step on safety Jonathan Jones. Instead of leading Miller into the end zone, Trubisky under threw the ball a touch, turning what could’ve been a touchdown throw into a 50-50 ball.

Jones made a spectacular play to intercept the pass, and New England engineered a 96-yard scoring drive after it that put the Bears down 14 in the fourth quarter.

“I thought I could have put it out there a little further,” Trubisky said. “I loved Anthony's route he ran, and I threw it a little later than I wanted to because I had to check protection to make sure I gave a slide call to make sure we could pick up the blitz that they brought through, and I just bounced back to the other side, so it was a little later than I wanted to be.

"But I thought he ran a great route, loved how he took it high, and I just got pushed out there a little further, but it was a 50/50 ball, and he had a chance to get it, and the other guy had a chance to get it, and the other dude made a great play.”

The Patriots’ defense did well to take away Taylor Gabriel — who had been Trubisky’s favorite target over the last few weeks — by shading a cornerback to the receiver’s inside shoulder and playing a safety over the top consistently. Allen Robinson was hampered by a groin issue and didn’t make an impact (five targets, one catch, four yards).

What the Bears liked from Trubisky, though, was how he switched to relying on Trey Burton (11 targets, nine catches, 129 yards, one touchdown) and stuck with Tarik Cohen (12 targets, eight catches, 69 yards, one touchdown).

Trubisky was outstanding running the ball, scrambling over 70 yards for an eight-yard touchdown and deftly extending a run into a 39-yard gain in the third quarter. His team-best 81 rushing yards on six attempts were an effective counter-punch to what Belichick threw at him.

But Trubisky threw two passes in the end zone that could’ve — and probably should’ve — been picked off. Those two throws were concerning given Trubisky threw a momentum-shifting interception in the end zone last week in Miami.

“He forced one in the end zone that everyone is holding your breath when he throws it, and that can happen sometimes with a young quarterback,” Nagy said. “But that was one of the ones that he knew right away 'I shouldn't have done that.'”

The highs and lows are all part of the long-term development of a young quarterback paired with a first-time coach. That’s a critically-important backdrop with which to evaluate Trubisky, Nagy and the Bears’ offense.

But the Bears still have plenty to prove in 2018, with this at the top of the list: Can this team be a playoff contender with a quarterback trending in the right direction, but still going through the growing pains of inexperience?

“It’s early in the year, still a lot of games left, a lot of ball to be played and we’re a good-ass team,” Massie said. “There’s no need to be like oh, woe is me. We’re still gonna make a run at this thing. We gotta fix what needs to be fixed and we’ll be good.”