Five Chicago Bears To Watch This Week

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Oct 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears offensive guard Kyle Long (75) reacts with fans after the game against the New York Giants at Soldier Field. Chicago defeats New York 27-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Long, Right Tackle

Long was thrown to the wolves in Week 1, and he struggled in pass protection but looked like his usual mauling self in the run game. I expected that he would fare poorly against Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, and he did, allowing 1.5 sacks in the first half before settling down a bit in the second half.

It doesn’t get any easier in Week 2, as the top left defensive end on the Cardinals’ depth chart is the athletic Calais Campbell.

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell against the New Orleans Saints at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Saints 31-19. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now in his eighth season after being drafted out of the University of Miami, Campbell had a career high nine sacks in 2013 and a respectable seven sacks in 2014. Last week against the Saints he failed to record any sacks, but registered six tackles.

Long will have his hands full with Campbell, but will hopefully get some help dealing with the former Hurricane from chipping tight ends or running backs, giving Long time to set up. I’d like to see the Bears run right at Campbell to start the game, and let Long pound away on the veteran, gain Long some confidence and wear Campbell down before turning to the passing game.

They need to run the ball anyway to protect Cutler and get the offense in favorable positions, but it would be better to allow Long to go straight ahead at Campbell rather than allowing the end to use his great speed to run plays down, the way Clay Matthews did in Week 1 against the Bears.

As we’ve said here before, Long has the tools to play outside; he’s a great run blocker and has the speed to handle faster pass rushers like Campbell. Yes, Long struggled last week, but that was his first live game action playing tackle, as he hasn’t played tackle in the pros before and didn’t get any game reps there during the preseason.

He’s got a chance now to handle a good pass rushing defensive end in Campbell rather than lighter, and presumably faster, outside linebackers like Mathews and Peppers, who really made Long look foolish when he sacked Cutler in the first quarter last week. If the Bears get Long started with a steady dose of running plays to get his confidence going, I think he’ll handle Campbell fine when it comes time to throw the ball.

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