Thibodeau returns to Boston with Bulls


Thibodeau returns to Boston with Bulls

Friday, Nov. 5, 2010
Updated 4:08 PM

By Aggrey Sam

The way some folks reacted to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau not playing Joakim Noah (at all) and Derrick Rose (for the majority of) the fourth quarter in Thursday's home loss to the Knicks, one would think he defaced the Michael Jordan statue in front of the United Center. Still, the fact that the rookie NBA head coach's explanation for holding out his two best players (as well of Luol Deng) when Chicago had a chance to win the game didn't hold water is understandable. After the game, Thibodeau said the second unit got the team back into the game and he didn't want to overuse the starters' energy in closing out to New York's legion of three-point shooters.

Alternate theories include: "Thibs" was trying to teach his starters a lesson and instill more of a defensive mentality in a game where the Knicks hit 16 shots from long range; he didn't believe the Bulls truly had a chance to win the game and instead waved the white flag; Rose, Noah and Deng were being rested for Friday's game at Boston, the second leg of a back-to-back.

While all--or none--of the above lines of thinking could be true (or not), let's take a deep breath for a second. In his fourth game coaching the Bulls, Thibodeau--who was roundly heralded as a defensive guru and the answer from the often-underwhelming coaching strategies of Vinny Del Negro--is already being criticized for giving up. The same Tom Thibodeau who is typically referred to as a workaholic?

The NBA's regular season consists of 82 games, ladies and gentlemen, making it a marathon--not a sprint--as the old saying goes. Since he's certainly well acquainted with the competitive nature of Rose and Noah, it's safe to say that the tail end of Thursday's loss can be chalked up as a teachable moment (maybe for players and coach alike) and promises to at least aid Noah in his interior battles with Kevin Garnett and the aging O'Neals (Shaquille and Jermaine) and Rose with his premier-point matchup against Rajon Rondo.

Now, if the Bulls end up missing the playoffs by a game or get stuck with an unfavorable postseason pairing, we can all point back to this game. But if a guy has spent approximately 20 years waiting for an opportunity to be an NBA head coach, it would be highly illogical to believe he doesn't have big-picture plans to go along with his ideas for the short-term.

Complain about his rotation, his use of Kyle Korver, the team's disappointing defensive showing against the Knicks--anything other than his will to win. Just over a week into the season, it's way too early to throw that type of notion around.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Vikings handling of Sam Bradford offers object lesson for Bears transition to next QB

Call it variations on a theme. The Bears on Monday night will face not only the Minnesota Vikings, but also Sam Bradford, the latest quarterback opponent that hints at possibilities in the Bears’ own future far beyond what was once the norm.

That norm is what can reasonably be expected from a new quarterback, one coming into a new system, new environment, even a new league, and having near-immediate success. Quarterback changes can involve upheaval of staff, personnel and even franchise identity, as the Bears can confirm based on their last eight years with Jay Cutler.

The experiences in Dallas, Minnesota and Philadelphia point to the kinds of quarterback transitions the Bears may be in search of after the 2016 season.

Bradford arrived in Minnesota via trade just eight days before the season opener, yet has proceeded to post the best results of his career: for completion percentage (67.5), interception percentage (0.6 percent; 7 TD’s vs. 1 INT), yards per attempt (7.4) and rating (100.3, vs. a previous best of 90.9).

More important, without the Vikings’ starting left tackle (Matt Kalil) and running back (Adrian Peterson), Bradford has the Vikings leading the NFC North and tied for the NFC lead at 5-1.

“[The Vikings] had the misfortune of losing their quarterback, they go out and make a bold move to get him and they haven’t missed a beat offensively,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “He’s been getting better and better.”

This all holds particular relevance for the Bears, who saw Brian Hoyer step in and deliver four straight 300-yard passing games, something he’d never done in his career and no quarterback in Bears franchise history had done. Cutler’s personal best was two straight, for purposes of comparison.

The Bears are expected to have a new quarterback in some form or other next year. In the meantime they have been victimized by two rookie quarterbacks already this season (Carson Wentz, Philadelphia, and Dak Prescott, Dallas). The experience of Bradford, Prescott and Wentz, all new in 2017 to their situations, suggests chances of dramatic improvement over the Bears’ recent history with Cutler, for example.

“A good quarterback can influence the guys and make guys around him better,” Wentz said. “So it’s one of those things where the quarterback usually gets too much credit and too much of the blame as well. It’s just kind of the nature of the position.”

Prescott and Wentz were 2016 draft choices and had offseasons and training camps with their respective teams. Bradford had none of that, yet began his year throwing 130 passes without an interception.

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How that happens may be illustrative for the 2017 Bears. The Vikings traded for Bradford, a one-time starter for the Rams and Eagles. But because of the late-offseason timing of the deal, necessitated by the season-ending leg injury for Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Bradford had to be eased into the new offense.

“I think that’s honestly one of the bonuses of coming during the regular season,” Bradford said on Thursday. “Obviously it would’ve been nice to have some practices in training camp. But once you get into the regular season, it’s not like you have the whole playbook in each game plan. Each game plan is very specific for that week’s opponent, so it’s considerably less than would be in your training-camp installs.

“So I think that helped a little bit. But as far as it being cut down, the volume wasn’t so much cut down as how the plays were called, naming some concepts with some things I was familiar with. That really helped me.”

Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell among four Cubs finalists for Gold Glove Award

Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell among four Cubs finalists for Gold Glove Award

Four Cubs have been recognized for their defense in 2016 on Thursday.

Jake Arrieta, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell were all named finalists for the Gold Glove Award at their respective positions. Winners will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Arrieta was tied for second among National League pitchers with five Defensive Runs Saved. Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon led with eight.

Heyward, who's a three-time NL Gold Glove Award winner, had the most DRS for right fielders with 14 and also led Defensive Wins Above Replacement with 1.3. 

Rizzo's .996 field percentage ranked fifth among first basemen in the NL.

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Russell was tied for most DRS among NL shortstops with 19 (the second-best had nine).

The two most notable Cubs left off the list were Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist due to their versatility throughout the regular season.