Unless one is an avid football fan, most people would not know the importance of protecting the blind side of a quarterback.
As a matter of fact, the story of RT Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens in the semi-biographical movie “The Blind Side”, gave some indication of what the position entails.
A player is either good at it or absolutely awful. It is imperative that the offensive tackle and guard plant his feet, heels firm to the ground, body forward, hips back in order to hold the rushing defense from smashing the quarterback to smithereens.
This has been an ongoing problem for the Bears. It was supposed to be a no-brainer when ex-Chicago Bear Gabe Carimi was drafted a first-round pick in 2011 to fill the gap at left tackle.
Due to injuries sustained in his rookie year he became ineffective in that position, forcing RT J’Marcus Webb to switch to the LT position, and the ramifications for that move put QB Jay Cutler in several injury situations. With new general manager Phil Emery at the helm, the safety of the quarterback and the development of an effective offensive line was the highest priority heading into 2014.
The 2013 NFL Draft was supposed to answer the deficiencies of the Bears' roster. Many fans were looking at filling the tight end or backup quarterback positions, but the Chicago Bears picked OG Kyle Long from the University of Oregon as their first-round pick.
He is the first guard to be selected in the first round since Roger Davis in 1960. It was obvious that Cutler needed other weapons to throw to, but a guard? It didn’t look like a great choice at the time, but watching Kyle Long play at right guard against the San Diego Chargers in preseason, at Soldier Field, convinced all doubters of his ability to grasp that position. He played 33 snaps with a +5.7 grade and for a rookie guard in the NFL, that is just ridiculous.
Long comes from a Super Bowl legacy in Howie Long and the sibling of a three-time Pro Bowler in DE Chris Long of the St. Louis Rams. Kyle Long’s destiny in the NFL will depend on his determination and drive to excel in the position he has been called to perform and proudly wears the same number as his father did with the Oakland Raiders; the number 75.
With rookie RT Jordan Mills playing alongside him, the double team combination will give QB Jay Cutler plenty of time to get the ball to the open receivers and assist RB Matt Forte to a breakout season.
His ability to read defensive ends as they rush towards the pass, hurling himself in front of the run is what makes a great guard. Long has the potential to replicate the likes of Hall-of-Famer OG Stan Jones of the 1954 – 1965 Chicago Bears.
Jones was a two-way tackle and could play both tackle and guard. In Marc Trestman’s offense, the versitality of Long could cause teams to alter the way they play. It is obvious that Long belongs as a starter on the offensive line with a message loud and clear to opposing teams that it would not be easy to get past him.
There is a trait that has been handed down to both of the Long sons from their father, it’s the camaraderie spirit and brotherhood that comes when one belongs to a team. Upon WR Brandon Marshall’s touchdown against the San Diego Chargers, Long was right there pulling off players with fierce force off of his teammate, his brother so that Marshall could enjoy the celebration.
That is the making of a future legacy. If and when the Chicago Bears make it to the playoffs, it is because Kyle Long gave his all to his team.
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