Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan was suspended two games without pay Saturday for his vicious hit on Packers wide receiver Davante Adams Thursday, but it should have been six— two for punishment and four to send a message to the rest of the NFL that even unintentional helmet-to-helmet hits will not be tolerated. A four-yard penalty just didn’t do the trick.
That Trevathan’s devastating hit on Adams wasn’t malicious — “I was just trying to hustle to the ball and do my job,” he said — can no longer be a mitigating circumstance. The use of the helmet as a weapon, intentionally or unintentionally, is the most dangerous element in football. It can cause a concussion for both the attacking player and the victimized one. And in the frightening aftermath of Trevathan’s hit on Adams, it’s clear the damage can be much worse. More than one person at Lambeau Field thought the guy might be dead.
“I did not [realize how bad it was],” Trevathan said after the game. “I realized it once he laid there for a while. And I saw his mouthpiece over there on the other side. And he wasn’t moving. He was twitching. I knew it wasn’t good. I immediately dropped down and started praying.”
Therein lies the biggest reason for legislation or action to rid the game of these hits: Players literally don’t realize what they are doing when they lower their head into an opposing player. Trevathan says he thought he hit Adams below the neck when in fact he hit him helmet to helmet.
“I don’t think I hit him in the helmet,” Trevathan said. “But I’ll leave it up to [the league]. I think it was right here [pointing to his chest just below the neck].
“I saw the hit. It wasn’t intentional. Not at all. I wasn’t trying to break his neck. I was trying to make a play. He was trying to get into the end zone. My speed picked up, and I just tried to make a tackle.”
Jon Runyan, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, said he violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6 (i), which constituted unnecessary roughness, in part, as “using any part of a player’s helmet or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily.
Trevathan can appeal the two-game suspension within three business days. Appeals are heard by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, who are jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA.
Trevathan, who led the Bears with 13 tackles against the Packers, was apologetic afterward and said he already had made plans to contact Adams.
“My main concern is that he’s OK,” he said.
Trevathan is a good guy — a responsible, disciplined professional and not a dirty player. But even if it wasn’t the intent, he made a dirty play and looked like a head-hunter. When players who pride themselves in doing it right do it that wrong, it’s a signal that the NFL has to step up its efforts to avoid helmet-to-helmet hits. Everybody says they teach proper tackling techniques, but there seems to be only one way to really get the point across.
2. Be patient, Bears fans. It won’t be long. Bears coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains have backed Mike Glennon thus far as the starting quarterback, but at some point, self-preservation figures to take over. If they’re not there already, Fox and Loggains are getting close to the point where they — more than anybody — need Mitch Trubisky to start. Glennon’s performance is reaching the point of affecting team morale on both sides of the ball.
They surely realize the opportunity. The last time a Bears quarterback was benched for poor performance, coach Marc Trestman turned to Jimmy Clausen. A week later, the Bears were looking for a new coach. Fox and Loggains have Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, who even in limited opportunities has shown he could be the quarterback of the future.
3. Fox and Loggains have to know it’s almost time to play the Trubisky trump card.
“There are 11 critical positions, and we’ve got to do a lot of work on all 11 of them,” Fox said.
But he knows he has a better chance of upgrading the other 10 by making a change at one particular position with the rookie quarterback he previously acknowledged “can raise all boats.”
4. Thursday night’s debacle at Lambeau Field was the seventh consecutive time the Bears have crapped out following a victory, dating to Week 10 of the 2015 season. The litany of disaster:
• Beat the Rams 37-13 in St. Louis; lost to the Broncos 17-15 at home.
• Beat the Packers 17-13 at Lambeau; lost to the 49ers 26-20 in overtime at home.
• Beat the Buccaneers 26-21 in Tampa; lost to the Lions 24-20 at home.
• Beat the Lions 17-14 at home; lost to the Colts 29-23 in Indy.
• Beat the Vikings 20-10 at home; lost to the Bucs 36-10 in Tampa.
• Beat the 49ers 26-6 at home; lost to the Lions 20-17 in Detroit.
5. That victory over the Packers at Lambeau is almost mystifying in retrospect. Aaron Rodgers had 21 incomplete passes. The Bears had six pass break-ups — four by Tracy Porter. With a first-and-goal at the Bears’ 8 in the final minute, Rodgers threw four consecutive incompletions. You almost have to look it up to make sure that actually happened.
6. Glennon’s lack of mobility isn’t a big surprise. But his lack of escapability is. When he was sacked by Clay Matthews for a 13-yard loss (and also fumbled and lost possession), it was already Glennon’s fifth sack of 10 or more yards in four games. Bears QBs were sacked three times for 10 or more yards all of last season.
7. The Bears’ 21-0 first-half deficit Thursday marked the third time in the last 18 games they’ve trailed by 21 points or more in the first half. They had a similar rut at the end of the Trestman era: three times in an 11-game span in 2013-14.
8. When tight end Adam Shaheen was drafted, Bears general manager Ryan Pace said he expected the rookie from Division II Ashland to make an impact this season. But after catching a touchdown pass against the Steelers, Shaheen played just eight snaps against the Packers. He has participated in 36 of 264 offensive snaps (13.6 percent) this season.
9. Ex-Bears Player of the Game: Packers tight end Martellus Bennett had six receptions for 39 yards against the Bears, including a 26-yard reception that led to the Packers’ first touchdown. Bennett has 17 receptions for 141 yards (8.3 average) and no touchdowns this season.
10. Bear-ometer: 6-10 — vs. Vikings (W); at Ravens (L); vs. Panthers (L); at Saints (L); vs. Packers (W); vs. Lions (W); at Eagles (L); vs. 49ers (W); at Bengals (L); at Lions (L); vs. Browns (W); at Vikings (L).
Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.