Bears vs. Packers: Five Takeaways From Week 1 Match-up

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Dec 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears guard Kyle Long (75) on the bench during the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Move to RT Not an Easy Move for Kyle Long

After cutting Jordan Mills last week, the Bears decided to move Kyle Long outside to the right tackle position. I have called for this move since the beginning of the off season, and while it was not a great start, I still believe in Long’s ability to play tackle.

The Bears moved Long outside, after he has spent his first two years in the NFL as the team’s starting right guard. Long grew into one of the best interior lineman in the entire NFL, and that was backed-up by him making two consecutive Pro Bowls, and being the lone member of the Bears to be named an All-Pro last season.

While John Fox and the Bears’ coaching staff eventually ended on the correct decision regarding Long, it took them far too long to get there. While he did play a little bit of tackle in OTA workouts, Long exclusively played right guard throughout training camp and the preseason slate. It wasn’t until the Bears released Mills a week before the opener for Long to practice at right tackle.

Long is extremely quick and athletic for an offensive lineman. He has obvious pass protection skills, and is far-and-away the Bears’ best offensive player up front. He has more value to the team at tackle, and with Mills consistently struggling, the move was obvious. The Bears waiting to move him outside was a miss on their part, as it prevented Long from getting acclimated to the position throughout the preseason.

In the long-term, I have full confidence in Long’s ability at right tackle, but he clearly struggled against the Packers. In the run game, Long was good, and was a major reason for Forte’s big game. however, he was exploited in pass protection. Look no further than the Bears’ second drive where he was completely destroyed in a pass rush by veteran Julius Peppers.

Peppers ran right by Long on his way to a sack of Cutler that led to a fumble recovered by the Packers deep in Bears’ territory. The fumble was later over-turned, but it does not take away the awful pass protection from Long on the play. He was beat badly, and that third down sack was clearly on him.

Long flashed the ability in pass protection, but that was to be expected, because the skills are clearly there. That being said, he struggled throughout the day with Peppers and Clay Matthews, both of who are crafty veteran rushers.

After he works out the kinks, Long will be just fine. That being said, this move is not going to be as easy as I initially thought it would be. I blame the Bears for not making the move earlier, but Long has to take some responsibility as well. When it comes down to it, this offense is not going to be as good as they can be until Long improves at his new position.

The sooner he figures it out, the better, but it might a few long weeks as he transitions.

Next: Issues at Cornerback