Kyle Long is a three-time Pro Bowler at two different positions and a 2014 second-team All-NFL offensive lineman who can make a case for being the best player currently on the Chicago Bears roster.
So when Long talks about the hiring of his new position coach and describes it as “huge” it is worth listening.
Long spoke with the Mully and Hanley Show on WSCR 670-AM Wednesday to discuss a number of things.
- Will Long be ready for training camp in Bourbonnais? “I know I’ll be ready to go. I just got to get this shoulder surgery on the second of February. The thing that will really require a lot of TLC will be this ankle.”
- This is arguably the most newsworthy quote in that Long will be returning from offseason surgery on his ankle and shoulder. How Long recovers from these injuries is important for obvious reasons, none more so than him being the best player on what he describes as the most important group on the field. More on that in a second.
- Long detailed what it will take to get to the Bears turned around by highlighting the value of linemen. “Great football teams are led and are known for their defensive and offensive lines. At the end of the day, the offensive and defensive lines both physically and from a numbers standpoint are the largest groups on the field. And if you can have those guys be your leaders moving forward things should be going in the right direction. I think that’s a goal for us.”
- Long himself also noted that having good players at quarterback and other skill positions around the gridiron are nice, but none of it works without the linemen doing the dirty work up front. Part of the reason Jordan Howard can have a Pro Bowl season as a rookie is because of the strength of the run blocking by the interior linemen. Leonard Floyd can be an all-rookie team member, in part, because of linemen on the defensive side doing work allowing Floyd to use his athleticism to get to the quarterback. The Bears have definite needs at several positions, but some deficiencies can be hidden with great line play.
- Will Long be switching positions? “I think (GM) Ryan (Pace) and John Fox fully understand that if they say ‘jump,’ I say: ‘How high?'”
- That’s a nice sentiment, but changing positions might not be the best idea for a player – even one of Long’s caliber – coming off injury. However, if the Bears make his position switch clear from Day 1 and not wait until the last minute to make a change, then it’s good to see Long open to a move that could improve the Bears at another position.
- On what he knows about his new position coach: “I know a lot of guys who have come and gone in Chicago who have played for him and speak very highly of him.”
- You can listen to Long’s full interview with Mike Mulligan and Brian Hanley here.
As for Washburn, the Bears made his hiring – and that of two other assistants – official on Thursday. We dug into some of Washburn’s background recently and it will be interesting to see how he goes to work on an offensive line that ranked in the middle of the pack.
All things considered, it seems Washburn has the approval of his best player – and that seems like a good place to start.