Gould: No formal protest over field conditions


Gould: No formal protest over field conditions

Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010
1:10 PM

By John Mullin

Think the players, including the Minnesota Vikings themselves, want this game in Minneapolis at all costs? Punter Chris Kluwe on his Twitter @ChrisWarcraft posted Early reports are a 2 layer of ice underneath the snow on the field at TCF. With no heating coils, expect a hockey game.

Kicker Robbie Gould, the Bears player rep in the absence of injured linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, will change his practice routine this week.

I think Ill go down to the UC United Center and see if I can borrow Blackhawks star Patrick Kanes skates, Gould joked, sort of. But who knows; I may have to bring them up to Minnesota Monday night.

They wont get a vote in whether Mondays game is played in TCF Bank Field or in some other city. But if the players were asked, the decision would border on unanimous:

No good can come from trying to stage this game on the University of Minnesotas field, whether the army of volunteers or anything else gets the snow removed and all the other preparations completed.

Forget the romantic frozen tundra stuff

Gould said that, contrary to some reports out of Minneapolis, there has been no formal protest over playing in the outdoor stadium nor is one expected. The Players Association, however, has been in contact with the NFL and the message is clear:

Its take a careful look, Gould said. Players dont want to play on a facility thats frozen. Obviously those conditions are going to create more risk of injury and obviously players dont want to be put in that sort of situation, given that theres been so many fines for head-to-head tackles.

Plus, think about it: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers got a concussion in Detroit, in a dome, and thats the softest of dome facilities. You go outdoors to a frozen field and the risk of injury is going to be a lot greater.

Jay Cutler was pointed in comments declaring Soldier Field a disaster last week. He was even more critical of what may lie in store in Minneapolis.

Thats kind of the buzz in the locker room and the concern with the guys, Cutler said. We dont really care where we play but that TCF Bank field isnt heated. And they can heat it up all they want but then were going to be out there for three hours in zero-degree weather so its definitely going to be a hard surface...

We dont get a choice in this. If they say play in a parking lot, were going to show up and play in a parking lot... Thats why the guys are really concerned about that, more so than where we play. We dont want to go out there and play on a concrete-type surface.

The number of concussions being reported this season is up more than 20 percent and playing on what Kluwe is describing as a virtual ice rink means heads hitting very hard ground. Defensive end Jared Allen isnt sure what thatll mean to his own battered head.

Aww, Im just a dumb lineman, I just show up there and hit my head anyways, Allen said.

Wherever they tell us to play. Heck, we could play here at Winter Park Vikings headquarters if you could get the fans in here.

St. Louis? Atlanta? Detroit again?

A decision on TCF Bank Field and the Metrodome was initially expected Tuesday. Then it was Wednesday. Then Thursday.

Gould said that a decision would be reached in a timely manner.

Whats a timely manner to the NFL? Who knows, Gould said. I think the timely manner is just making sure that everyone is safe and making sure the playing surface for every athlete is going to be safe.

Because theres no reason to put guys at risk when theres plenty of facilities, 32 teams, to play, especially when half of those teams are going to be away anyway.

John "Moon" Mullin is'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' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

Bears' Nick Kwiatkoski was a top-5 inside linebacker in 2017

The Chicago Bears selected inside linebacker Roquan Smith in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft with the expectation that he'll become an immediate starter and impact player on defense. But, was there a need at inside linebacker?

According to Pro Football Focus, Nick Kwiatkoski, who Chicago selected in the fourth round of 2016's draft, was a standout performer last season. He ranked third in the NFL among inside linebackers in run-stop percentage and was fourth-best in pass-rush productivity.

Kwiatoski [sic] also wasn’t tagged for a missed tackle against the run all season. He still has to share time on the field with Danny Trevathan and newly-drafted Roquan Smith, but should be able to capitalize on a great sophomore year after being drafted in the fourth round from West Virginia in 2016. Overall, Kwiatoski was graded as the NFL’s 12th best inside linebacker, higher than both Spaight and Hitchens.

His 21.0 pass-rush productivity ranked fourth and came on the heels of his rookie season in which he ranked 10th in the same category in 2016.

Kwiatkoski didn't receive much fanfare last season but the analytics speak for themselves. He started six games (appeared in 11) and registered career highs in tackles (34) and sacks (two). He's an ascending player but his growth is likely to be stunted by Smith's presence. 

Chicago could view Kwiatkoski as the heir to Danny Trevathan's starting job. The Bears can move on from Trevathan with little consequence at season's end. His dead cap number drops to just $1.25 million in 2019. Kwiatkoski will be in the final year of his contract that season (2019), and if he hasn't earned a starting job by then, he's a near lock to sign elsewhere when his rookie contract expires. 

Kwiatkoski has proven he can produce when given a chance to play, something 31 other teams have certainly taken notice of.

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

Pro Football Focus: Bears rank near bottom-third of NFL in pass protection

If the Chicago Bears want to make a real run at the playoffs in 2018, the offensive line will have to do its part by keeping QB Mitch Trubisky upright. The offense is expected to be more pass-heavy under coach Matt Nagy and will depend on Trubisky having time in the pocket to go through his progressions and find the open target.

New offensive line coach Harry Hiestand should help that cause. He's universally praised as one of the best offensive line coaches in the sport and will be charged with getting a better effort from a unit that ended last season ranked in the bottom-third of pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus.


2017 pass-blocking efficiency: 77.9

Best individual PBE: Josh Sitton, 97.4

Because of several crippling injuries, nine different players saw at least 100 pass-block snaps for the Bears in 2017. They gave up 152 pressures on 536 passing plays. The top performance came from left tackle Charles Leno Jr., who enjoyed the best season of his career and allowed just 24 pressures all season. Heading into the 2018 campaign, rookie guard James Daniels is penciled in to fill the shoes of the recently departed pass-blocking star Josh Sitton. Daniels performed well in pass protection during his final college season, allowing just 10 pressures on 371 pass-blocking snaps at Iowa.

The Bears will be without last season's top pass-protector, Josh Sitton, who was let go by GM Ryan Pace this offseason and signed with the Dolphins. 

Pass protection was once all about the play of the offensive tackles, but with the NFL's interior defensive linemen evolving into disruptive forces up the middle, guard play will be nearly as important. A healthy Kyle Long is critical. Chicago can't afford growing pains from James Daniels, either. Cody Whitehair returns to full-time center duties, a role he excelled at during his rookie season. 

Charles Leno should provide reliable play at left tackle. Bobby Massie remains a wildcard, but with little depth behind him, the Bears can do nothing more than hope his bad reps are limited in 2018.

With Hiestand in the fold and a healthy Long ready to compete at a high level again, the Bears' offensive line should be much improved this season.