Bears-Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium not certain

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Bears-Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium not certain

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
1:56 PM Updated 4:06 PM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The Minnesota Vikings are determined to have their game against the Bears next Monday in Minneapolis. It is still not a stone-cold lock.

Defensive end Israel Idonije said Wednesday that players have not been told where the game will be played. The choices are the University of Minnesotas TCF Bank Stadium or Ford Field in Detroit, because the Metrodome cannot be repaired in time after its disastrous tear last weekend due to snow.

The Vikings and the NFL will cover the expenses of re-opening TCF Bank Stadium, for which costs could reach as high as 700,000. But the call went out Wednesday that the university needed more volunteers to clear the snow from TCF Banks grounds, meaning this is not a certainty until there is an official announcement that its game-on, and that hasnt been made.

Theres also a forecast of 3-6 inches of snow. The target area was south and west of the metropolitan area but if there is certainty with weather, it is just thatwell, its...umm...well, something. Ill get back to you on that.

Generally the location of a game is only marginally part of game planning vs. the specifics of an opponent. But for special teams in particular, whether the game is at an outdoor stadium or indoors will materially affect planning.

On the kick return game we have to decide and figure out where were going to make our double teams if its outside, said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. The kicks are shorter. Everything moves up. We have a different plan for outdoors than we would for indoors. Wherever they want to kick it, itll be there if its indoors. If its not, we have to plan for the other. For us on special teams it is a big difference so the sooner we find out, the better.

Fluid situation

As weve been saying at CSNChicago.com for the last day-plus, the Bears and Minnesota Vikings are going to play Monday night but it is also increasingly less likely that theyll be playing in Minneapolis and the Vikings themselves are describing things as this fluid situation.

Repairing the Metrodome is out and now the Vikings confirm that NFL officials are touring the University of Minnesotas TCF Bank Stadium Wednesday to assess its workability as the alternative site. Notably as well, the team is noting in the second sentence of its statement that the decision ultimately is the NFLs, so the Vikings arent ducking the decision but making sure it doesnt reflect badly back on the organization when the second straight home game is shipped off to Detroit.

Lets see how you read the Vikings statement:

At this time, NFL officials are touring TCF Bank Stadium to ensure its safety for our fans and its ability to meet the primary technical requirements for an NFL game. Ultimately the decision to re-locate a game is the league's in consultation with the two teams. The NFL supports the plan to play Monday night's game at TCF Bank Stadium but is currently ensuring viability of this plan.

At the same time, the Vikings and the University of Minnesota are diligently working through all of the issues associated with moving a game such as tickets, parking, and operations. The organization is working to accommodate our fans questions, and we will continue to inform them on this fluid situation as soon as more information is available.

The brouhaha over the game venue didnt command all of the attention Wednesday.

Bears long snapper Pat Mannelly was picked, by USA Football and the NFL players association, as one of 26 players on the 2010 All-Fundamentals Team. And it couldnt happen to a classier, more deserving individual. More on that later.

The award is given to 11 offensive, 11 defensive and 4 special-teams players based on consistency with the fundamentals of their positions and for making a positive impact on their communities. Pat is not only a 13-year veteran who is among the true elite at his position, but also he is a spokesman for the American Lung Associations Athletes and Asthma Program as well as operator of longsnapper.com, a website he started as a means of instructing young players at the position.

Its a great honor for Pat, very well deserved, said special-teams coordinator Dave Toub. His technique is second to none. The fact that he has a website called longsnapper.com where thousands of young kids go to pretty much every year to find out how to long snap tells you a lot about Pat and how important he feels that technique and proper fundamentals are.

The reason behind the website was boredom, Mannelly said, laughing. No, actually, it was. It was during an offseason when I was bored, and I was looking on the Internet and I noticed there was nothing out there about long snapping. In high school, fortunately I had a brother who was 5 years older who went to Notre Dame, and he wanted to learn how to long snap and he was handed a pamphlet of how to long snap, so he got his information through a pamphlet.

Looking on the Internet, there was nothing out there on how to long snap, so I just wanted to put the information out there: how to hold the ball, how to snap it, all that stuff, so hopefully a kid like me who wanted to learn how to do it could just type up something and get the information.

But the lessons from Pat reach far, far beyond the fundamentals of long snapping.

Ive had the good fortune of covering the Bears through Pats entire career and have repeated and re-told something he once told me. Pat was one of the most sought-after high school offensive linemen in the nation coming out of high school in Georgia. USC, Notre Dame, Georgia, pick a power, Pat heard from them.

He chose Duke, about as far from a football power as there was at the time.

Pats reasoning was simple. He looked very critically at chances of reaching the NFL, even for a top lineman like himself, and he realized that if youre good enough to play in the NFL, they will find you. It really didnt matter where you played. Given that the Bears have starters from West Texas A&M, two from Abilene Christian, two from Louisiana-Lafayette all of them drafted. Pat went to Duke. They found him; he was drafted, in 1998, same year as Olin Kreutz.

What that translated into for Pat was a decision to use his athletic skill as a lottery ticket to cash in for the best education he felt suited him. That was in history and also with the economics foundation he wanted.

If youre good enough, the NFL indeed will find you. If youre smart enough, youll make the kind of decision Pat did.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

Jay Cutler is reportedly considering retirement

This is apparently the week of Jay Cutler news.

Reports surfaced earlier this week the Bears are pushing hard to find a trade partner for the enigmatic quarterback, though Ian Rapoport reported the organization informed Cutler in mid-January they were shopping him around.

It seems clear Cutler's time in Chicago has come to an end and an ensuing move is more of a formality at this point.

But apparently Cutler may not even suit up again...for ANY team.

Rapoport reported on NFL Network Wednesday night Cutler is mulling over retirement, even as he's healthy and working out now after shoulder surgery.

"There's no guarantee Cutler even plays in 2017, one of several veterans who are still considering whether they want to play or not play, retire, walk away. A lot of things at play here for Jay Cutler."

Host Dan Hellie immediately followed up, asking for clarification on the retirement part.

"It is a consideration; it's something he's confided in people," Rapoport said. "But Dan, I would say, it's not a surprise for quarterbacks this age. We've heard [Ben] Roethlisberger talk about it; we've heard Tony Romo talk about it. If it's not perfect, if he can't find the team he wants or the contract he wants, it's very easy for Jay Cutler to walk away."

Whoa.

Cutler, 33, has made more than $112 million in his 11-year career and is owed at least another $2 million in 2017, even if he's cut by the Bears.

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.

Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.

Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.

Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.

Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.

It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.

The Bears also announced the additions of assistant coaches Brandon Staley and Derius Swinton II Wednesday morning:

Staley will replace Clint Hurtt as outside linebackers coach and Swinton will be the assistant special teams coach under Jeff Rodgers.

Swinton is reprising his role he held on the Bears coaching staff in 2015 before leaving to take a promotion with the San Francisco 49ers special teams. 

Hurtt left the Bears to take a position as the defensive line coach with the Seattle Seahawks. Staley spent last season as the defensive coordinator at Division-III John Carroll University, the alma mater of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Hall of Fame coach Don Shula.