Monday, November 29, 2010

Impressed yet, Bears' Fans?

Count me in the impressed column. I'm not sure I have words to describe how impressed I am by the bears play yesterday. Although the game ended with the bears only winning by 5, the game really wasnt close in the 2nd half. Here's some thoughts and ramblings on the game.

The Good
1. JAY CUTLER. Well, he threw 4 tds. No picks or turnovers. and only had 1 "what the shit are you doing" pass. Plus he continued to move well in and out of the pocket and avoid the rush when possible. And i will count his great little shovel pass to Matt Forte, but only because it worked. This is probably the best game Jay has played as a bear really. He was 8 of 10 against the Eagles blitz and was so effective that they just stopped blitzing. Also, he hit his WRs in stride and made throws that only he is capable of making. Basically, he was a Franchise QB.
2. Matt "Big Play" Forte. Doesn't it just look like every hand off to Forte that he might break it for 20+ yards? Or is it just me being a homer cause he is on my fantasy team? Either way, Forte had a great game. He broke big runs and had over 100 yds against an Eagle defense that had not allowed a 100 yd rusher. If the bears continue to be able to run the ball, we see how the passing game opens up and the points get on the board.
3. Defensive Line. Give these guys the game ball. Vick is one of the best athletes in the NFL and was contained and harassed by the DL all day. The best sacked him 4 times on the day and had numerous more hits on Vick. Peppers had a great game and did anyone really think Idonije could be this good? He was almost unblockable yesterday. These guys won the game for the bears and made the defensive game plan of dropping into coverage possible.

The Bad
1. Chester Taylor - Maybe i'm being nit picky here but Chester hasnt looked good the last 2 games. He has 7 yards on 17 carries in the last 2 games and had -3 yards yesterday. Chester is still reliable in the passing game and a good blocker but I was expecting more explosion from him. He is more of a cut back runner than Forte and behind this line it may be hard to find daylight anywhere else than the designed hole. I know he is just the backup but the bears billed him as helping to create a 2 headed monster in the backfield. That just isnt the case right now.
2. Kick coverage. I could have picked Brandon Manumaleuna trying to juke a defensive back instead of just running over him (you're 300 lbs for pete's sake) or the offensive line completely blowing blitzes on a couple of plays. But, I was very disappointed in the special teams coverage. I know that the eagles have a good return team but the bears still gave up too many large returns and it hurt field position. Plus there was a penalty on a kickoff return which negated a big Danieal Manning return.

The Stunning
8-3. Thats the bears record and represents a tie for the 2nd best record in the NFC with the saints. The bears have beaten the eagles and packers who are right behind them in the NFC with 7-4 records. The bears have to be in the conversation for who is the best team in the NFC and have a legit shot at not only winning the division but also getting home field advantage in the playoffs. No one would have predicted this and lets just hope it keeps getting better. Up next week - the Lions.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

AudiBull (Episode 4) Links / iTunes

Kmart and I just wrapped up AudiBULL (Episode 4), and we ran into some technical difficulties at the end. We covered the past week of Bulls' action, but did not get a chance to make our predictions for the upcoming week.

Even though the Bulls finished the Circus Trip with a winning record, the schedule does not get any easier. This week: Orlando (Wednesday), then a back-to-back @ Boston then home against the Rockets (Friday and Saturday).

Despite a great start and winning record after the Circus Trip, I am predicting 1 win and 2 losses for the upcoming week, while Kmart says 2-1.

Here is the link to D-Rose breaking Tyreke Evans' ankles (that I referenced during episode 4).

Again, sorry about the technical difficulties, that is part of doing a live podcast. We'll try to have the issue sorted out by next week. Thanks for listening, here are the links:

Listen to internet radio with CraicBackLive on Blog Talk Radio

BBS AudiBULL (episode 4) on CraicBackLive or download from iTunes

Special thanks to Ryan (@ryeryeryecom) for the "AudiBull Theme Song". Follow Kmart (@kmartbbs) and me (@bullbearsock) on twitter!

Derrick Rose Breaks Tyreke Evans Ankles

The best part is hearing the Sac-Town crowd when it happens:

Also, be sure to check out "BBS AudiBULL" (Episode 4), today (11/28) at 4pm. You can listen live here, or check BBS later tonight for links to listen or download from iTunes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Click-a-Bull (AudiBULL; Noah Intangibles; MJ / LBJ Mashup; Rose and Taj are Game-Time Decisions)

If you missed "BBS AudiBULL" from last week (11/21), here ya go: AudiBull (Podcast) Episode 3 (Links / iTunes). We should record Episode 4 on Sunday afternoon at about 4pm. You can listen live here, or check BBS Sunday night for links.

Also, you can check out all episodes of "BBS AudiBULL" and all of CraicBackLive's college football podcasts over on the sidebar ---->>

Intangibles key to Noah's impact on Bulls' success

There's no truth to the rumor that Joakim Noah bulked up for this season lifting his wallet. But there's no denying the floppy-haired (near) 7-footer entered his fourth pro season with a different physique.

Just look at him. He's thicker. He's chiseled.

Noah, 25, admitted there was some pressure to step up his game, and his approach to training, knowing this was a big offseason. As a member of the 2007 draft class, he was eligible to sign an extension before this season, so he hit the weight room as his people and Chicago's front office talked about the future.

Noah would be one of just five from that draft group -- joining Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley, and Jared Dudley -- to sign an extension before the current CBA expires after this season. That Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf committed $60 million for five more years when they didn't have to shows the franchise's, well, commitment to Noah as a franchise pillar.

"It's not an ideal situation for them because of the [possible] lockout coming up," Noah said recently. "The reason he made me sign it was because he believed in me and he really liked me as a person. That meant a lot to me, hearing that from my boss."

And there were all those Carmelo Anthony rumors regarding Noah. Some league insiders questioned the logic of Chicago not willing to part with Noah in a deal for a top-five-caliber talent. The man at the center of the debate dealt with 'Melo speculation, especially as it heated up during September, and reiterated at every turn his desire to remain in the Windy City.

I hate to see MJ and LeBron mentioned together, but this is great:
Video: LeBron x Jordan commercial mashup

Bulls' Rose a gametime decision with neck spasms

Derrick Rose experienced neck spasms and is a gametime decision for Friday's matchup against the Nuggets.

Rose wore a heating pad as he sat in the visitors' locker room before the Bulls' morning shootaround and couldn't turn his neck as he tried to address reporters.

"It's real sore," Rose said. "It started a little before the (Phoenix) game. It's been stiff ever since. If it's up to me, I'll play. But right now, I have to turn my whole body to look a certain way."

Rose, who has missed only four games in his first two seasons, said he planned to get a massage Friday afternoon. He tried soaking the neck Thursday night but that didn't help.

"I've been getting treatment but it hasn't gotten loose yet," Rose said. "I went to the team party (on Thursday) for a little bit, but I left because my neck got more irritated."

Coach Tom Thibodeau said C.J. Watson would start if Rose can't play

Monday, November 22, 2010

AudiBull (Podcast) Episode 3 (Links / iTunes)

Since I have been slacking a bit on posting (other than Click-a-Bull links), DC has been providing some great thoughts on the Bulls' run through Texas.

Kmart once again lead the discussion on BBS AudiBULL, and episode 3 was our best effort yet. You can listen here (click "BBS: AudiBULL, Episode 3"):

Listen to internet radio with CraicBackLive on Blog Talk Radio

Or use these links:



Bulls jump above some south Florida team in the ESPN Power Rankings

Bulls took a (deserved) big jump from 12 to 7 in this week's ESPN Power Rankings. After a, 3rd quarter in San Antonio notwithstanding, very impressive start to the dreaded "Circus Trip" I am not surprised by this at all. If they can beat the Lakers tomorrow night in LA I think it would cement them as a top 5 team in the league right now...and even better when Boozer comes back. Here's the blurb they received in the power rankings:
When Boozer comes back to join the long and rangy Noah and Gibson -- and especially if D-Rose starts getting to the line more than 5.5 times per game like he deserves-- these guys can challenge in the East. This season
I love this statement about Derrick Rose's lack of ref respect. I try not to complain about the refs too much (but it is the NBA and the refs are largely atrocious on a nightly basis...looking at you, Mr. Crawford) but it is getting laughable the lack of respect that Derrick Rose receives from the zebras on drives in the lane.

If you compare the fouls called on the Bulls against the Spurs (many which turned into and-1s) and the no calls Rose couldn't get it's just ridiculous. Touch fouls called for Parker/Hill/Ginobili...Rose drawing significant contact and nothing. (Note: not saying that is why the Bulls lost, they played brutally in the 3rd Q...but it was an obvious trend)

Rose not getting to the line isn't new...Exhibit A and Exhibit B. But it's certainly getting old. I'm not asking for the "superstar" calls that many big names get undeservedly...I just want the legit calls to be made.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Click-a-Bull (BBS; Bulls' Fight; CJ Watson; Rankings; Looks Legit)

Slow week here at BBS because I recently started a new (temporary) job. Thanks to Pete for his Bears preview, and DC for some thoughts on the Bulls this past week, BBS hasn't been totally silent. SPeaking of not totally silent, KMart and I have tentatively scheduled a "BBS AUdiBULL" episode for [Monday, November 22, 8:30pm]. Listen here.

Bulls enjoy their fight on big trip

Thibodeau's players make mistakes, but they make up for it with toughness

Although no one would say it publicly, the Bulls' main goal through the grueling November and early December schedule was simply to avoid getting buried.

With Carlos Boozer (broken hand) out and a slew of tough road games, that sentiment was understandable.

But the Bulls (7-4) are doing more than surviving, and that affords the team the luxury of letting Boozer fully heal before he's activated.

With an 88-83 victory Friday over the Dallas Mavericks, the Bulls have won two of the first three games on the seven-game road trip -- already qualifying it as one of the best circus trips in the last 12 years.

The amazing thing about the Bulls' record is they're experiencing many of the predicted early-season problems. They've been inconsistent and at times look like a team with a rookie coach working in eight new players.

But, somehow, they keep winning games. The Bulls may have a few shortcomings, but mental toughness isn't one of them.

''There's a lot of fight in this team,'' coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''If we get down, we'll keep working the game. The thing that I like is the guys bounce back.''

That's precisely what they had to do to win in Dallas. The Bulls were up by four at halftime, but the Mavs opened the second half with a 20-4 run for a 55-43 lead.

C.J. Watson making the adjustment

Sure, it’s fun being part of the band. But when they hit a bad note, it’s never the lead singers who get the blame.

And so it’s been for several of the Bulls reserves players, mostly shooting guards Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer and point guard C.J. Watson, who hear the rumbles, that the team needs to replace them, needs a high quality starting shooting guard, a better backup point to relieve Derrick Rose.

No, it’s not something they hear from their teammates or their coach as the reserves were vital Friday in the 88-83 upset win in Dallas, and coach Tom Thibodeau routinely has said he has confidence in the bench and never is afraid to use them.

But Watson, perhaps more than anyone, has heard the whispers, sometimes louder than other times that the team needs to find someone else.

“You hear it all the time,” acknowledges Watson, particularly quiet and polite among the Bulls players. “It’s part of life. It doesn’t bother me.”

I’ll add my opinion that it bothers everyone when they are serious about their job, as I’ve seen Watson to be. But it’s what you say, especially when you are young and can be hurt more by it.

“It goes on everywhere if you’re playing basketball,” Watson was saying quietly the other day. “They say that about others.”

Mark Heisler's NBA rankings

Lakers jump back into top spot; Thunder on the move

8. BULLS 7-4 (14): Most underrated Trojan Taj Gibson now most underrated power forward.

This Bulls team looks legit

When the news of Carlos Boozer's injury hit, I think most Bulls fans, including myself, went into survival mode. Just make it through the first month of the season and hang around hoping that Boozer's reinsertion into the offense would help the team play up to their potential.

The reality is that the Bulls are 7-4 right now, which despite the small sample size, is on pace to win 52 games this season. On top of that, the Bulls have already played some of the really tough games on the schedule.

When the season started, I figured this was probably a 41-43 team without Carlos Boozer on it. We lack a secondary offensive creator, ball handling outside of Derrick Rose, and I thought our front court would struggle. I also wasn't convinced the Bulls would shoot well enough from the perimeter.

Rose's brilliance and everyone's hard play would keep them at the water line, but not allow them to go much above it until Boozer came back.

The results have proven much better though.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bears v. Fins - Can Urlacher finally win in Miami?

Well a short week for the bears and it couldnt come as a worse time for the dolphins. They lost 2 starting QBs to injury last week and it appears they will be playing with Tyler Thigpen, their #3 QB this week. Also, Urlacher has never won a game in Miami including the '05 Superbowl game. It goes without saying the that Bears need to keep winning games but especially this game as it is shaping up as the most winnable game on the bears 2nd half schedule.

Key Matchups:
1. Bears LBs v. Wildcat - Like I said above the dolphins have some problems at QB, although Thigpen has proven to be a decent QB, so the bears will be seeing a lot of the wildcat. The key will be for the bears LBs to make the correct reads. The LBs have to try and delay their breaks on the ball for as long as possible to confuse whoever is running the wildcat option. If the LBs are too apparent with their breaks, the person running the wildcat has an easy read on the defense and choose the best run from the wildcat. The dolphins' game plan is pound the ball anyway and they will only do it more this week.
2. Omiyale v. Cameron Wake. Omiyale has actually played pretty well as a LT but has had some problems with speed rushers. Wake has been one of the surprises of the NFL season. He is a 2nd year undrafted free agent and has 8.5 sacks. He is thriving in Miami's system as playing the rush LB position. If Frank can control him somewhat Culter should have time to thow because the dolphins dont have a pass rushing threat besides Wake.

Keys for the Bears:
1. Pound the ball. Yes the bears werent that effective with the run against the vikings but their commitment to the run had a huge impact on the game. They had over 35 mins in time of possession and Cutler was 7 for 7 on play action throws. The dolphins try to make it a grinding game so the bears are gonna have to control the clock and keep running the ball.
2. Defensive Penetration. The one thing that can kill the wildcat is penetration by the defensive line. It can disrupt the play before it even starts and can frustrate the motion and confusion the wildcat is trying to create. Pressure this week is probably more important in the run game than it is on passing downs.
3. Field position. The dolphins play tight games and try to grind it out. They are a field position team just like the bears. This game will be about defense and special teams both phases where both teams excel. The bears need to win the field position battle in order to score some points and win this game.

Hero of the Day:
Matt Forte. I think the bears are gonna run the ball a good amount and i really look for screens and flat passes to Forte to try and control the clock. Also, look for Martz to call the wheel route for him a couple times out of the backfield because against the dolphins 3-4, it will probably get him matched up against a LB which should be a recipe for a big play. I'm looking for some big plays out of him and think he will get them in the pass or run game.

I've said above this game is not gonna be pretty. In fact, I think the # of punts could be greater than the teams final scores. With that said, the bears strength on defense and special teams and the dolphins injuries at QB should add up to a win for DA BEAR. This is probably the easiest game the bears have left and 7-3 would look pretty awesome. Go Bear!
Bears 17-Dolphins 13

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh my god, is that DC's music?

I'm back and apparently still have posting rights. It's been awhile. Going to try and post more now that the weather is turning and I'll be sitting on my couch more than usual.


Last night's Rockets game reminded me how much I miss having Brad Miller's slow pump fake in our offensive arsenal. I even named my fantasy team Brad Miller's Pump Fake this year...not that anyone gives a shit about my fantasy team.

Anyways it was good to see Miller again and seeing that he was still up to his old tricks. Especially the "trailing the break, top-of-the-key jumper". Shouldn't anyone who hits that shot have to mail Rasheed Wallace $5 every time it works? I feel like he has a patent on that. Ran across this link this morning, it's hilarious and true: The Brad Miller Offensive Playbook

Quick thoughts from the first game of the circus trip:

- Rose is playing himself into MVP contention...he was right before the season, why shouldn't he be the MVP? Was absolutely unstoppable when he came back in the 4th. He would have topped 40 pts and a new career high were if not for the foul trouble (hey thibs, let's not use our best player for a needless foul before halftime in the future....mmmkay? great.)

- OMER COMIN'! Omer Asik is earning (and rightfully so) Thib's confidence on the court. He's getting the fouling a bit under control and he is becoming a presence off the bench. As Blogabull pointed out after the game last night: "Nearly 18 minutes for Asik tonight, and he's looking like a second-round steal."

- Bulls shot better from 3 than from the stripe. This is a trend that can't continue. This game could have been locked up with 4 minutes to go if they had shot better from the line. They hit some down the stretch when they needed them, so it's not all bad...but still should be better.

- That's the Ronnie Brewer we signed. For the first time all season he looked comfortable on both ends of the court. I love his defense and I LOVE how he floats along the baseline on offense....that should lead to lots of easy buckets off of Rose drives and when the D collapses on Noah and, soon, Boozer in the post. Good to see him have a nice game...should be a confidence builder.

Up next, San Antonio's ageless wonders. Not a team you want to play on the tail end of a back-to-back. A very well organized, veteran team that knows how to win. Will be a great test for this young and still Boozer-less Bulls team.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

AudiBull (Podcast) Episode 2

Episode 2 is complete, and I am still hungover. Thanks to Kmart for doing most of the work this week, as I really struggled through this podcast. This episode covers the Bulls' 3 wins this week (Warriors, Wizards) and the upcoming circus trip.

Listen here:

Listen to internet radio with CraicBackLive on Blog Talk Radio

Or use these links:



Friday, November 12, 2010

Bears v. Vikes - Game that defines a year?

Bear-Vikings -- where fans root for their teams to win and also root for their teams to fire the coaches. - Sam Rosen, chicago tribune, 11/10/10

I couldnt put this game in any better words. But all joking aside this game is could be season determining for both teams. As of right now the bears are 2-0 within the division and if they win 3-0 would give them the upper hand on winning the division. The vikes are 3-5 overall and 1-1 in the division and if they lose to the bears you can almost write them off in the division and for any chance at a wildcard because you are gonna have to go atleast 9-7 to get a wildcard berth. So, lets everyone get excited for this game.

Key Matchups
1. Kruetz v. Williams Mountains - Every bears fan know that the Williams DTs kill the bears. The questions is can the bears block them well enough to have some semblance of the running game and to give Culter a pocket to step up into? It will be up to Kruetz and the guards to take care of these guys and drive this offense.
2. Favre v. Tillman & Jennings - The bears have been playing a lot of cover 2 and zone this year because they have had the opponents in 3rd and longs a ton. The zone is good because it lets the defensive players play an area and keep looking into the backfield. This lets the defense see where the ball is going and drive on the play. However, this weekend the king of the pump fake, Favre is in the backfield. The bears have to play disciplined coverage and not try to jump every route or pump fake which is hard for a defense that is so focused on getting turnovers. Otherwise, they could be beat deep a lot.
3. Adrian Peterson's hands - The bears have caused 8 fumbles on defense this year. Peterson has fumbled zero times this year. He has however fumbled 3 times in the last 2 games versus the bears. If the bears can get the ball to pop out, they should win the turnover battle and then likely the game.

Keys for the Bears
1. Unleash Jay. Yep, this is exactly what I have pretty much have been adovacating the past couple of weeks. But realistically, the bears dont have a good running game and its incredibly hard to run against the vikes. But, they can be had in the pass game. Some playaction and deep balls should available for the bears. I say this is the week to really see if Martz's offense can work. It may be a gamble but realistically the bears are going to need an explosive offense in the 2nd half to make the playoffs.
2. Contain AP. I'm not sure you can really stop the "Purple Jesus" as some call him. But you can make him work hard and contain him. He has historically had big games against the bears but if you keep him to 4 yds per carry and no big runs, it should be considered a win for the bears defense.
3. Maximize your weapons. Its simple on offense. Put your guys in the position to do what they do best. That means look for Greg Olsen to stretch the defense down the seam and in the redzone. Throw a couple deep balls to Johnny Knox to loosen up the defense and see if he can break one. Get Hester the ball out in space and see if he can run past people. And use Forte and Taylor out of the backfield to create mismatches. By now, Martz should have figured out what his guys to best and now he needs to show us he can use them in that way.

Hero for the Day
I could be a total homer and pick Matt Forte cause I just traded for him in my fantasy league but instead I will say Greg Olsen. I think he got back on track last week and I look for at least 1 td and a couple deep balls down the middle to him. Time for him to show that he can be an impact TE in this league.

I think this will be too close for comfort at halftime with the bears possibly even losing. The vikes know they have to win this game and they will come out swinging. But, i think the bears are the better TEAM right now and will come out ahead.
Bears 24, Vikes 21

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Click-a-Bull (AudiBull; Rose Commercial; Bulls/Heat; Bulls Beat Nuggets; Bill Walton/Maurice Lucas)

AudiBull (Podcast) Episode 1 Links / iTunes

Also, it's looking like "BBS: AudiBull, Episode 2" will be airing Sunday at 4pm. Be sure to tune in at CraicBackLive (and check out there other shows (about college football / NFL).

TBJ: Video: Bulls turn their Heat on

Bulls frontcourt dictates game, Melo more than 'Meh'lo but Bulls come back in 4th

Great win for the Bulls Monday night. Banking any before the circus trip is big, but especially against a quality opponent like the Nuggets.

Several swings throughout the game, but this time the 2nd quarter was not only not abysmal (and Scal didn't play at all!), but the Bulls actually won it. And the second half saw the Bulls lose and gain back the lead based on whether Carmelo Anthony was on the floor or not.

And in a close contest in the 4th, when the Nuggets tried to go small, they learned the tough yet should-be-obvious lesson: you cannot go small against Joakim Noah. He's too quick himself for you to use speed to an advantage, and then his power can overwhelm a poor (really poor) man's pseudo-center in Al Harrington. In one sequence Noah blocked Harrington's shot, and then on the other end he was able to get an offensive rebound (one of his 19 total rebounds on the night) and draw a foul. I'm guessing that George Karl had a minutes cap on Nene which was why he felt forced to go this route, but it bode well for the Bulls chances down the stretch, between Noah's dominance and Rose always being a threat late, even if he had a poor shooting night overall. Rose hit some huge baskets and the Bulls were able to keep the lead for good.

Liked how the Bulls were very willing to run, especially off turnovers, and while it forced some TOs of their own it was an exciting watch, and seemingly good for Rose to get used to.

Not technically Bulls' related, but worth reading:

The Greatest Trailblazer Ever Maurice Lucas, 1952-2010

What do we do now ???

What can you say ???

Now that he’s gone and you realize that nothing’s going to bring him back.

Where do we go from here ???

Maurice Lucas was a proud, fierce and independent man. He lived in a world that did not encourage or value his greatest traits and strengths.

The nicest thing that can ever be said of someone is that they make other people better. No one ever made me better than Big Luke.

He was simply better than perfect on all fronts.

Big Luke was a towering, statuesque pillar of supreme principle where loyalty, commitment and leadership were a way of life---not just words of convenience.
Loyalty—the human attribute that enables people to achieve extraordinary things because we care. Maurice cared—about everything. He cared about right and wrong. He cared about truth and justice. He cared about his family, friends and teammates. And he was always willing to do something about it.

Commitment—the willingness and persistence to stick to what matters most. Maurice was ever so determined to make things come out right; he would do, and ultimately did, anything to ensure our success---at every turn.

Leadership---the ability to do what others can’t, or won’t do, themselves--- by pulling the team together, by defining the terms of the conflict, by leading the relentless offensive attack and by hitting first.

Maurice and I became teammates more than 36 years ago---the summer of 1976. It was in Portland, Oregon, for an NBA expansion franchise that had never done anything.

In our first meeting he told me we were going to win the NBA Championship—that season. He was right. He was always right.

In our very first game together, an NBA exhibition game in Portland against the Lakers of Kareem, Lucius Allen, Don Chaney, Kermit Washington and Coach Jerry West, with the game and everything else on the line--- the ball, our dreams and chances were rolling towards the out of bounds corner on the way to the Blazer locker room. With the clock ticking down, Maurice fought his way through countlessplayers—from both sides. After shaking everybody off and now with ball in hand and in complete control but with scant time to close the deal, Maurice drove the ball straight to the rim along the right baseline. The mighty Kareem came over to deny Maurice. They both rose higher than humanly possible and Kareem had all visible angles covered perfectly. But somehow, someway Maurice was able to contort his body around Kareem, glide under the basket and surface on the far side while still ascending. Big Luke threw down the most incredible reverse slam dunk right in Kareem’s face for the game winner at the buzzer. Maurice flung both arms and clenched fists in the air in the classic Muhammad Ali victory pose. And things were never the same again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Week 9 Bears Review

The bears beat the bills. It wasnt an exciting game. It was close the whole way and the bears managed to pull it out in the end. However, there were some very encouraging signs from the bears. Sidenote: Lovie's teams still arent noticeable better coming off a bye.

The Good:
1. The offensive line - Yep, this is probably the first time of the season the O-line was a positive. Look this group will never be great. Heck, they might not even be good but they can become a serviceable or average offensive line. Thats pretty much what they were which was a huge improvement from what they have been. They only let up 1 sack and wore down the bills defense in the 2nd half. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.
2. Jay Cutler's feet. Cutler had a great day of movement. Not just his scrambling ability on which he picked up 2 first downs was impressive but the way he moved around in the pocket. He rolled both ways and moved in the pocket effectively to avoid pressure. He looked like a quarterback who was comfortable in the pocket and in the offense.
3. Tim Jennings. I'm not sure enough can be said about his play at corner this year. Not only did he make a great inception but the guy constantly sticks his nose in run support and did pretty well in coverage. He gets his hands in on a lot of throws and likes to hit guys. About all you can ask for in a corner in Lovie's defense.

The Bad
1. As good as Jennings has been this year, (and it pains me to say this) Peanut Tillman has been almost as bad. I love Peanut and he has a unique ability to punch the ball out (most forced fumbles in the in last decade) but he probably shouldnt be a starting corner. He has lost a step and Bills WR Steve Johnson had a career day mostly matched up against Tillman. I'm not sure the bears have a better option at corner with zack bowman injured but I think very soon Tillman should be moved to free safety or nickelback to make this defense better.
2. The DTs. One of my keys to this game was Peppers so I specifically watched the D-line most of the game. Peppers and Idonije were being chipped or double teamed most of the game which would have left the bears DTs 1 on 1 against O-linemen. Sadly, the DTs didnt make many plays and got almost no pressure up the middle. They have been stout against the run but they havent gotten penetration either in the run or pass game. Tommie Harris is a ghost of DT and Adams and Toeneia are solid players but with Harrison not dressing there isnt a whole lot of talent at DT and it shows.

The Encouraging:
1. Martz, I want to shake your hand cause that was a great game plan. You ran the ball 25 times and called passing plays that allowed your QB to make quick decisions. You also called roll outs and got the ball to your best playmakers. Olsen was targeted 8 times and caught a TD. Taylor was used near the goalline and ran one in. I hope this type of game planning continues because in the weather of december at soldier's field this will win us games.
2. Earl Bennett. For me, there is no question who the bears's best WR is. Mr. Bennett. He runs good routes, is always wear he needs to be (runs past the first down marker on 3rd down) and catches everything. He keeps improving and is the type of WR that Martz's offense needs. Look for better and better things from Earl.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

AudiBull (Podcast) Episode 1 Links / iTunes

For those that haven't heard, BBS recently partnered up with CraicBackLive (at BlogTalkRadio) to create a podcast. CraicBackLive is a regular live podcast about ND and college football, but they have opened their doors (mics?) to Kmart and I so that we can offer a podcast about our beloved Chicago Bulls.

First, we want to thanks CraicBackLive, and recommend that everyone check out their college football podcast on a regular basis.

Second, Kmart and I made our first attempt at a podcast today. It was a lot of fun, but we have some work to do to make it better. We apologize for any technical/sound difficulties, and will try to work these things out as we go. We are grateful for the opportunity from CraicBackLive, and would appreciate any feedback/comments/suggestions from any listeners. As I said, this was our first attempt, and we would love any information to make this better as we go forward.

Here are the links for "AudiBull: Episode 1":

Our host: CraicBackLive

Kmart and I discussing the Bulls' season thus far:
AudiBull: Episode 1

iTunes AudiBull Episode 1

Special thanks to Ryan (@ryeryeryecom) for the "AudiBull Theme Song". Follow Kmart (@kmartbbs) and me (@bullbearsock) on twitter!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Week 9: Bears, please dont ruin my sunday

Sunday the bears play the only winless team in the NFL. The bills arent good but they have taken their last two opponents into overtime. The bears are coming off a bye and should be over prepared for the Bills. Here's what to look for:

1. Forte v. Bills - The bills have the worst rush defense in the league. I'm praying that Martz used the 2 off weeks to realize this and rams the ball down their throat. If Forte and Taylor dont have a combined 25+ rushes this week, then Martz is dumber than we thought and something has gone terribly wrong with the game.
2. The Harvard Grad v. Bears' safeties. Ryan Fitzpatrick, the bills QB went to Harvard. This probably makes him smarter than Chris Harris & Danieal Manning combined. Their passing game has been on fire and they have a couple of deep threats in Johnson & Evans. If Fitzpatrick can figure out want the bears safeties will be doing pre-snap, the pass defense could be in big trouble.
3. Dynamic Return Men. The bills have Roscoe Parrish and the bears have Hester and Manning. All of these guys are threats to take it to the house whenever they touch the ball on returns. One of them will have a big return impacting the outcome of the game. Lets hope its a bear.

Keys for the Bears:
1. Run the ball. I would Lovie had to go to Martz in the bye week and say that this team is better when it runs the ball. It helps in all facets of the game. The bears need to have some semblance of balance in play calling to help stop other teams from just strictly rushing the passer. Look for what I would hope that we will see running plays called atleast 45% of the offensive snaps on sunday.
2. Julius Peppers, get on the board. Pepper has been good but he last had a sack in week 4. That was 3 games ago. The bears didnt pay him as the highest paid DE in the game to be good. He has to great and get sacks!! Put the QB on his ass, i dont care if he is getting triple teamed.
3. Win the turnover battle. No, I swear I havent been taking cues from Lovie. But the bills only have 1 interception on the year and their offense is prone to being careless with the ball. The bears should be able to force turnovers and hold on to the ball and win this battle in a big way.

Hero of the Day: Matt Forte
Call me crazy but I really do believe the bears are gonna come out running the ball. I think this can be a huge game for Forte much like the Carolina game. I expect atleast 100 yds and a TD. The better he is the more pressure it takes off Culter and the offensive line.

Prediction: Bears 24, Bills 17.
This is tighter game than I wanted to predict or than I have seen experts picking but I have watched parts of the Bills game the last 2 weeks and their offense has really impressed me. I think this is a more dangerous game than people are giving it credit and I think it will be a tight one until the bears can finally wear away the Bills defense in the 4th quarter. Bill Brumett, your favorite team is going down.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Click-a-Bull (Rose Dunk; Noah's Fire; Rose FTs; Kerr on Bulls; Knicks)

Let me get this out of the way: I'm not going to angrily rant discuss last night's Bulls v. Knicks game in this space, saving that for the podcast this weekend*. But I will say this: it was nostalgic, and emotional, and just awesome to hear Marv Albert calling a Bulls/Knicks game again. I love the NBA.

*Looking like the podcast (BBS: AudiBULL) will be airing
sometime Sunday afternoon. For the exact time/details,
follow me on twitter: @BullBearSock (or follow fellow
BBS writer and partner for AudiBULL: @kmartBBS)

BBS: Derrick Rose's Dunk-of-the-Year Entry (from the 1st quarter of last night's game against the Knicks)

The Fire Inside

The house is set against a forest preserve, and through the trees you can hear the MetraRail north line chugging back and forth from Fox Lake. But all you can see out here, in the darkness of a Sunday night in the Chicago suburbs, is Joakim Noah's face illuminated by flames. He bought the house in part because of the fire pit in the back, the deep thoughts and long conversations it foretold. This may seem like buying a Bentley for the floor mats, only Noah uses the fire pit as he imagined, arranging the kindling in a pyramid at sundown, cracking open a light beer, folding his 6'11" frame into a chair under a tall birch. He can tell the regular season is coming because he has to slip a parka over his sweats and hike his socks up to his knees. His hair is pulled into a bun, and his beard is finally gaining momentum.

Noah has just returned from a preseason game in Orlando, where his Bulls lost by 38 points, though he keeps referring to the margin as 50. His father, former French Open tennis champion turned reggae star Yannick Noah, sent him a text message from an island off the coast of Africa that read, "Better to lose by 50 one time than lose by one 50 times." This is the role Yannick plays for his son, always showing him the brighter side, offering him a pleasant alternative. When Noah was in high school, spending summers living on his coach's couch in Queens, then tagging along with that coach and sleeping on his floor at the ABCD basketball camp in Teaneck, N.J., Yannick would call and tell him, "You can meet me on the beach in the Bahamas. You can join me on my catamaran in Greece." Noah, shagging balls for the likes of LeBron James and Sebastian Telfair at the camp because he wasn't good enough to be invited to play, would set his jaw and say, "I've got to stay here and play in the projects."

He sticks an iron poker into the fire pit and prods the embers until they spark. "I still feel like that guy," Noah says. "I'm not a very skilled player. I'm not that talented. For me, it's about wanting to win more than the other person. That's what makes me a little different." The NBA's regular season can be a mundane exercise, 82 games during which the best teams bide their time until the playoffs and the best players admit they are pacing themselves. "I don't see it that way," Noah says. "I can't." In the locker room before games, while teammates visualize themselves making every shot they take, Noah conjures a much different image: He is playing the worst game of his life, getting backed down and pushed aside, dunked on and laughed at. He lets the anxiety build before releasing it on the floor in a torrent of churning limbs and primal screams. The way he runs the floor, it looks like his ponytail might snap off. "Jo has the kind of drive that I don't think many people have ever seen before," says Tyrone Green, Noah's former Police Athletic League coach, the one who offered up his couch in Queens.

Derrick Rose starting to draw the contact

You still see it: Derrick Rose blows by his man as quickly as any player in the league, he is in the lane fast. The help defender is moving over just a second or two late, and Rose makes an athletic, acrobatic move to avoid the defender and spin in a bucket. You see the shot again on SportsCenter.

That’s not what Dwyane Wade would do — he’d slam into that late defender, maybe or maybe not making the shot but drawing the foul for sure. Wade also probably would go crashing to the floor in a manner as spectacular as the shot.

Last season Wade averaged 9.1 free throws per game. Tyreke Evans was 6.5. Deron Williams was 5.5.

Rose was down to 4.3. It’s long been the one thing that needed to change about his game. He needed to draw the foul. And he knows it, he told the Sun-Times.

”I’m trying to change it now where instead of avoiding the contact and hitting crazy shots, I’m trying to get fouled and go to the free-throw line,” he said. ”It’s kind of weird for me right now getting used to it, but it’s coming along.”

Back in broadcasting, Kerr high on Bulls’ future

For former Bulls guard and current TNT analyst Steve Kerr, the transition from the Suns front office back to the world of television wasn’t exactly all that challenging.

“It’s great, I’m undefeated,” said Kerr. “I’m home five days a week. It’s been great to get back with TNT and a lot of old friends and great people. To have a normal family life again after the last few years of being gone all the time has been nice.”

Kerr, a five-time NBA champion including three titles during Chicago’s second three-peat, says he’s very optimistic when it comes to the future of his former team. He applauded the hiring of Tom Thibodeau, as well as the way the Bulls are playing with a sense of purpose this early in the season.

“I really, really like their team,” Kerr said of the Bulls. “I think Tom is a terrific coach and obviously well prepared after 20 some years of coaching as an assistant. You can see just by watching them play that they have a plan, an identity, and they’re executing what they’re trying to do.”

Kerr added that another reason he’s been impressed with the Bulls is the job done by GM Gar Forman and EVP of Basketball Operations John Paxson.

“They’ve got a well-constructed, balanced roster and a good group of guys,” said Kerr. “There are a lot of high character players in Chicago who want to win, and that’s a great formula. Once [Carlos] Boozer gets back, we’ll see. It’s going to be very interesting. But they have a chance over the next six to eight years to be really good.”

Games of the Night: Where Derrick Rose had really good seats for the ending

Knicks 120, Bulls 112: Bulls fans are going to get all over rookie coach Tom Thibodeau for not putting Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah back in when the team was on a run and pulled within nine late. Instead, the Bulls two best players sat the entire end of the contest.

That was not where this game was lost. We’ll get to the ending and talk about it, but be clear that the Bulls lost this game a lot earlier.

The Knicks put up 70 on the Bulls and whatever that was Chicago playing when the New York had the ball in the first half. Most teams call it defense, but that’s not what it looked like to me, if you let guys get to the rim and give them open threes I don’t know what you call it when you give up 132.1 points per 100 possessions like the Bulls did in the first half.

Part of it was the tempo — that pace the Knicks played at in the first half is where they need to be all the time. The 13 turnovers by the Bulls in the first half helped fuel that.

Derrick Rose's Dunk-of-the-Year Entry

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Random Bulls Thoughts

Three games into the season, let's rush to make some judgments:

The Bulls are on pace to win 54 games.
Rose is averaging 27.7ppg and 8.7apg (both career highs).
Deng is averaging 20.7ppg.
Noah is averaging 14.3ppg and 15.3rpg (2nd in the league).

Aaand enough with the nonsensical projections/averages after only 3 games. In reality, we've had a 4th quarter collapse against a good OKC team (which is understandable for a young team with a rookie head coach), a Rose outburst against the Pistons (39 points), and a Deng explosion last night against the Blazers (unexpected, but great to see).

So what do we have going forward? A lot of odd pieces that oddly fit together to look like a basketball team.

Here's what I like:

Thibs' defensive scheme is an obvious choice. The entire team is swarming with intensity and I love it. But I'm going with Thibs' offensive scheme: the player movement is a huge change from VDN's lack of offense.

D-Rose is almost unfair. His explosiveness with the ball is unbelievable. He's creating shots for himself (particularly reverse layups, which is awesome). Plus, he looks exponentially better on defense - perhaps it's Thibs' system covering up a little bit, but I like a system that allows an athletic PG to gamble and take risks.

Korver coming off screens. It's pretty, and his release is so, so fast. I understand the lack of D, but it hasn't really been exploited and I'd like to see him first off the bench. More time with Rose (and eventually Boozer) will do wonders spreading the floor.

JJ ... yes, I said it. He's looked good so far. And I think he's the knew TT - one great game and we love him, but give it a few days and we'll be back to hating him. Either way, he's playing great D and bringing energy, which is what you want from someone off the bench. At worst, making himself a trade chip.

Luol is shooting with confidence. I don't expect 40 points per night (or 73% shooting), but confidence is crucial. Lu looks much better moving off the ball (again props to Thibs) and should be a legit #3 option when Booz returns.

Noah's rebounding and passing has been great. The boards are obvious, 15 per game. But he is doing a really great job of passing from that mid-post area. It will be great to see him and Boozer working off one another.

Here's what I don't like:

The 4th Q against OKC ... yes, it's an obvious choice, but it was bad. We enterted the quarter tied, and only managed 13 points (to OKC's 24). Of course, it was the first game for a team with a lot of new faces ... but we played the first 3 quarters pretty well, then fell apart.

Scalabrine playing meaningful minutes. I'm aware that this will quit (or at least decrease) when Boozer gets back and Taj and Omer stop fouling every 9.4 seconds, but it's still embarrassing. Scal might be a vocal leader and know the system, but he brings nothing on offense.

That's it, it's too early in the season to dwell on negatives. I got most of my pessimism out of the way in my season preview, so trying to stay positive the rest of the way. (at least until our 9-game losing streak later this month.)


Other news: Looks like Kmart and I are going to give this podcast a try this weekend. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, click here.) Look for "Audi-Bull" sometime early next week!