NFL Thoughts Week 10: Chicago Bears and Beyond

Andy King

Some high profile players were knocked out of games with concussions this weekend, so our Thoughts kick off with discussion on that subject. Be sure to check out all of our Thoughts and chime in with a few of your own.

Concussions are back at the forefront of the NFL again this week. The Chicago Bears lost two players to concussions last night in their nationally televised game, quarterback Jay Cutler and defensive end Shea McClellin. The Philadelphia Eagles lost QB Michael Vick and the San Francisco 49ers lost QB Alex Smith earlier in the day. Brain trauma is by no means a new thing in the NFL, but with 3 starting QBs going out on the same day, it's back as topic #1.

Windy City Gridiron has been on top of the concussion discussion for a while now. We took a look at the HIT System, and whether it should be used in the NFL. We wondered if the modern helmets are to blame for some of the reckless play. We looked at the inherent risk involved by professional athletes, and we had the opportunity to talk to the representatives of the PACE program to discuss the ImPACT System.

The NFL has already announced the Bears handled the Jay Cutler concussion situation properly, and be sure to follow our Cutler story stream all day for breaking news on the matter.

On to some more Thoughts...

1) New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez was never a world beater, but he has regressed this year. At this point is there any reason not to make a change to Tim Tebow?

2) The fake field goal that the Ravens ran with a 41-17 lead against the Raiders may seem classless at first glance, but the play was put into the game plan to beat a specific overloaded look from the Raiders. The Raiders were still playing football, and were trying to desperately block the FG by sticking 8 players on one side, so the Ravens did what they planned to do.

3) I think the New York Giants are so accustomed to peaking at the end of the year, that their 6-4 record and the 31-13 beat-down in Cincinnati won't even faze them. They still may be the most dangerous NFC team come playoff time.

4) What Minnesota's Adrian Peterson is doing after his knee surgery is freakish to say the least. As a Chicago Bulls fan, I can only hope Derrick Rose has as a recovery on par with Peterson's.

5) Are the Detroit Lions done now?

6) With their 4th win in their last 5 the New Orleans Saints are back in the playoff hunt after an 0-4 start. And with the way they and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing, I'll bet the Atlanta Falcons are feeling some heat in the NFC South.

7) Even though Miami's Reggie Bush took the high road after being benched for fumbling, I thought it was an asinine move by Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin in the first place. What message was Philbin sending to his team with the benching, considering that his QB, Ryan Tannehill, threw 3 interceptions on the day?

8) The St. Louis Rams have only themselves to blame for their tie against the NFC West leading 49ers. They had that game won twice in OT before dumb penalties erased their hopes.

9) The Bears lost to the best team in the AFC by only 1 score, they had a -2 turnover margin, and they played the second half without their starting QB. And some Bears fans are ready to call the season over... #SMH

10) I wrote the following on another thread in response to those that called B.S. on the Chicago Bears waiting until halftime before determining Jay Cutler had a concussion. I felt my Thought was worth sharing here, plus it's cool to block quote ones self;

To say that it’s ridiculous that the symptoms didn’t start showing up til halftime is ignorant. I’ve been around my fair share of concussions both as a player and as a coach. It’s not the easiest thing to determine. Sometimes the visible wooziness comes later.

I’d imagine pro athletes are even harder to diagnose, because they are conditioned to never show pain. The sideline test is as simple as checking the eyes, and asking a few questions, and watching the player to see how they carry themselves. If the training staff didn’t see any obvious symptoms immediately, there was no reason to pull him.

In the perfect world, yes, any hard blow to the head would require the player to immediately come out of the game. On the youth level this is exactly what happens. USA Football has done a ton to educate youth coaches and players on the dangers of brain injuries. And hopefully the education will start to change the culture in football.

Until the newly knowledgeable kids of today are the NFL players of tomorrow, the warrior mentality of the football player will remain when it comes to concussions.

The "getting your bell rung" and "shaking out the cobwebs" should be a thing of the past. The brain is nothing to mess around with.

I was hoping our resident commenting Doctor would chime in on the subject, and WCG member akn did just that (the bold is mine);

The sideline test is fairly comprehensive.

The NFL’s sideline assessment tool is publicly available (I have a pdf of it if you are interested), and is based on a 2009 Zurich conference on concussions. The consensus statement from that conference is regarded as the modern baseline for real world sports medicine practice related to concussions. That sideline protocol takes at least 10-15 minutes to administer, if not longer. It would be impossible to do it every time someone got hit in the head, and it wasn’t designed for that. In fact, performing the full sideline assessment every time someone (running back, DB, linemen) got hit in the head or took a bit hit would create many false positives.

What you described (checking eyes, quick cognitive assessment, etc.) is closer to the immediate on-field test before the player even gets up. If there is anything suspicious about that assessment, the player is pulled and the sideline test is done. Not all symptoms manifest right away. If Cutler later complained about a headache or a coach noticed him being a bit slow, then they would pull him and initiate the sideline protocol.

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