Chicago Bears

Mullin: Will Bears file protest over field conditions?

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Mullin: Will Bears file protest over field conditions?

Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010
11:00 AM

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The talk with Mac and Spiegs on WSCR-AM 670s The Danny Mac Show was whats still on a lot of minds a lot of places: where the Bears-Minnesota Vikings will in fact play Monday.

Vikings coach and former Bear Leslie Frazier told Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com and me that the thinking is 80-90 percent sure that itll be at the University of Minnesotas TCF Bank Stadium, which is head-shaking on so many levels. The franchise wants to give its fans a home game, yet temps that night are predicted in single digits, which speaks more to wanting max revenue from a home game rather than fan comfort.

The guys had just seen a tweet from Jeff Zulgad on the Minneapolis Star-Tribunes Access Vikings that the Bears may file a protest over field conditions, which are indeed a factor given the frozen state of the state up there.

One venue that we batted around, not for this game but maybe someday, is the prospect of NFL football again in Los Angeles and could the Vikings move there as a couple groups are trying to make happen. The Los Angeles Vikings isnt a team name; its an oxymoron, like Utah Jazz (another team that moved but didnt change its last name). Utah and Jazz dont compute, and neither do L.A. and Vikings. Well see.

Mac cut to a Bears issue, though, that wont go away and thats the need for the offensive line to take another next-step vs. the Vikings, wherever they play. The Bears needed to run the ball against New England and 47 yards on 14 carries is not good enough for a team that expects to play more than 16 games.

The guys also noted that the combined point production from the four NFC North teams last weekend was 20: seven each by the Bears and Lions, three each by the Packers and Vikings.

I threw out that going almost unnoticed under all the talk of Bears clinching next weekend is that the Packers are teetering precipitously close to missing the playoffs entirely. A loss in New England would be six for the team many picked to be playing in the Super Bowl. Right now either Atlanta or New Orleans, winners of seven and six straight, respectively, is getting one wild card. And Philadelphia and the Giants have four losses right now. Those two play each other this weekend but the Giants go to Green Bay yet this season and that could matter a lot for the Packers chances.

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.

Bears: Kyle Long looks set for 2017 debut while Josh Sitton doubtful for Week 3

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USA TODAY

Bears: Kyle Long looks set for 2017 debut while Josh Sitton doubtful for Week 3

Kyle Long was a full participant in back-to-back practices Thursday and Friday, and wasn't listed on the team's injury report Friday, clearing the path for the three-time Pro Bowler to make his 2017 debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s been a lengthy, grueling process for Long to get to this point, with significant muscle atrophy in his ankle and a setback during training camp further delaying his return to the field. 

Where Long plays in his 2017 debut will be interesting to watch. The Bears have planned on moving him from right guard to left guard, though with Josh Sitton doubtful with a rib injury, Long — who didn’t get many full-team reps at left guard during training camp anyway — could start on the right side Sunday. 

Part of the equation, too, is that Cody Whitehair has more experience with the Bears at left guard, where he played until Sitton was signed before the beginning of the 2016 season. If Tom Compton (hip, questionable?) can’t play on Sunday, Whitehair presumably will move to guard while Hroniss Grasu will start at center. Whitehair did play both left and right guard in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to the injuries to Sitton and Compton. 

No matter where Long starts, though, his return will provide a boost to an offensive line that’s been flooded with extra defenders against the run so far this year. The Steelers would be smart to take the same stack-the-box approach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did, which led to Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen being limited to 20 yards on 16 carries. 

Fox said Long won't be on a concrete snap count, but the Bears will evaluate him throughout the game. But even if Long isn’t 100 percent, or doesn’t play 100 percent of the snaps, he can be a difference-maker for an offense that’s needed difference-makers in 2017. 

“I mean, the expectations are where they left off when I left. I always have high expectations,” Long said. “If you play the game you change the game. If you’re out there doing anything other than that then you’re just witnessing it, you’re watching. It’s not a spectator sport.”

How the Bears coached up Tarik Cohen after his punt return mistake in Tampa

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USA TODAY

How the Bears coached up Tarik Cohen after his punt return mistake in Tampa

It’s not that Bears special teams coach Jeff Rodgers never wants Tarik Cohen to try to pick up another punt that’s bouncing deep into Bears territory. It’s just that he doesn’t want the explosive rookie to try to pick up the ball when he’s surrounded by multiple defenders. 

That’s what Cohen did on Sunday, leading to a prompt fumble recovered by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which needed only one play to get in the end zone after the fourth-round pick’s gaffe. The challenge for Rodgers then is coaching up Cohen to retain his aggressiveness, but not make the same mistake twice. 

“We’re not down on the kid,” Rodgers said. “He’s trying to make an aggressive play and that’s always going to be in his nature. That’s what you like about the kid. 

“… I think you’ve just got to coach him as time goes on and say, ‘hey, the reason why you wouldn’t do something like that in this situation is because of this,’ or ‘this was a good play because of that.’ It’s so hard as a coach to prepare a player for every possible scenario, so you’re trying to give him general guidelines and rules to follow in the different situations he finds himself in.”

Cohen said after Sunday’s game he wanted to keep the ball from bleeding further toward the Bears’ goal line. He owned his mistake and made no excuses for it, saying if he faces that situation again he won’t try to grab the ball. 

But Rodgers pointed out a pair of punt return touchdowns that began with a player picking up a bouncing ball deep in their own territory: This from Tavon Austin and this Trindon Holliday score. Cohen has the skill to make a similar play, so Rodgers doesn’t want him avoiding every single bouncing ball from here on out. 

He just wants Cohen to be smarter when confronted with a bouncing ball and a handful of defenders surrounding him. 

“You’re not trying to dwell on the negative and keep reminding him that he made a mistake on the field,” Rodgers said. “You’re trying to coach him as best we can before those things happen and say, ‘hey, if you ever get in this situation...’ But a lot of that is learning experience. Unfortunately that one didn’t work out but hopefully next time, based on field position, based on proximity of opponent players, he’ll make a different decision.