It’s on like Donkey Kong for Kyle Long.
Finally that phrase actually applies in a real life scenario. The rookie first rounder is going to have his hands full when the Bears square off with the Lions on Sunday. Long will have the task of keeping Ndamukong Suh off of Jay Cutler and out of Matt Forte’s way. It’s a task that GM Phil Emery had specifically in mind when he “reached” for the Oregon product.
Aaron Kromer told Brad Biggs of the Tribune back in May what went into the draft, “Suh plays over the right guard and we have to win the division first. Obviously, at Green Bay they flip their tackles, so they could have B.J. Raji on both sides. We want to make sure that we have good matchups in these games. We drafted these guys to win the division first.”
The Bears have a chance to take a commanding lead in the North division with a win over Detroit. A victory would give them a two game lead over the second place Lions and a 2.5 lead over the idle Packers. It’s early in the season, but over 80% of teams that start 4-0 go on to the postseason. Whether or not they do that is going to come down to the play of both lines.
Long is going to get his second big test after telling reporters he was terrible against Gino Atkins in week one. The line gave up zero sacks in that game, but Long admitted to missing a few assignments. If that game was Long playing terribly I can’t wait until he churns out a great one. He might need that this week as the Bears take on another ferocious front four.
I continue to be impressed by both Long and Jordan Mills. On Sunday night, the pair opened up the big 55 yard near touchdown run by Matt Forte. The two also bring that nastiness that you like to see in your big uglies. Think J’Marcus Webb and then picture the exact opposite demeanor. Amazingly the line has zero false starts through three games. It has been a massive improvement from a season ago.
On the other side, the front four is going to have it’s biggest test with the high powered Lions attack. With a gimpy Charles Tillman, the match up with Calvin Johnson may not be the wash it has been the last five seasons. If the line cannot get to Matt Stafford, the secondary is going to have major issues.
Everyone wants to talk about the blitz because it feels like the Bears are doing it more than ever. Against Pittsburgh, Mel Tucker brought some form of a blitz 33% of the time, up from 25% the first two weeks. The question is has it been effective since the Steelers managed a couple of deep passes against the blitz.
It shakes down like this, the Bears have blitzed on 38 passing plays this year and trail only the Seahawks in quarterback rating when sending the extra man. They have brought the quarterback down four times, nabbed two interceptions and forced a fumble while blitzing. On the flip side they have allowed 247 yards passing and two touchdowns in these situations according to Jeff Joniak, the Bears play by play man.
Blitzing is going to be a mixed bag for sure, but right now it’s working. Almost 50% of the Bears points have come off of turnovers which leads the NFL just like a season ago. The question is will it work against real NFL offenses, not the Vikings and Steelers? We will get a look this weekend against a quick hitting passing attack from the Lions under the dome.
Another test coming for both the offensive and defensive lines. Will they pass?