Bears' Kyle Long on move to tackle: 'Not everything is going to be rainbows'


Bears' Kyle Long on move to tackle: 'Not everything is going to be rainbows'

"Not everything is going to be rainbows."

That may be one of the most accurate quotes to assess a football game in history.

After all, has anybody - or any team - ever played a perfect game of football?

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That's also how Kyle Long assessed his performance as the Bears moved their two-time Pro Bowler from right guard to right tackle in the regular season opener Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

"You get so comfortable at one position, and then you get moved," Long said after the Bears' 31-23 loss. "But that's part of the deal in football, especially on the offensive line.

"We have a great group of guys around me and we need to continue to push forward and compete. Not everything is going to be rainbows."

Long said he found out he was going to be playing right tackle in the opener just last weekend and the Bears played the move close to the vest leading up to the matchup against a heated division rival.

"They've done a good job since letting me know it was going to be the decision in the past week or so," Long said. "It's a lot different in the game. But we practice at a tempo, and the defense practices at a tempo to prepare our offensive line.

"I had my struggles individually, but I did some things that I can keep my head up. I thought I played pretty hard. I'm going to move on and make progress next week."

Among those struggles, Long was was beat by former teammate Julius Peppers for a sack and near-fumble of quarterback Jay Cutler in the first half.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up Bears fans]

But Long also deserves his fair share of credit for the Bears gaining 402 yards of total offense, including 189 yards on the ground.

"I thought [Long] played well," Cutler said. "We'll look at the film, but for having one week at right tackle, I thought he did excellent."

Long mentioned several times that he and the rest of the offensive line have a bad taste in their mouths after leaving yards on the field, namely when the Bears couldn't score on three attempts from the two-yard line in the fourth quarter.

The Packers made life difficult for Long by mixing up looks and lining up a tandem of All-Pro rushers across from him in Peppers and Clay Matthews.

But Matthews was held without a sack (even if he did have an interception that essentially ended the game) and the plan is for Long to stick at right tackle for the foreseeable future with the Bears.

"If they didn't think I was too atrocious," Long said, "I'll continue to play out there."

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”