Bears

For Bears' Long, move to RT has had its moments – good and bad

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For Bears' Long, move to RT has had its moments – good and bad

It was a phone call Kyle Long wasn’t expecting. On two counts.

Offensive line coach Dave Magazu was calling, the Sunday night before the Bears began Week 1 preparation for the Packers. Magazu was letting Long know that the team had cut right tackle Jordan Mills, Long’s wing man the past two years.

Long appreciated the call. Then…silence for a few moments before the other shoe fell.

“He said, ‘And you’re playing tackle this week,’” Long said. “That was kind of the extent of it.”

But Long’s willingness to make a change from the comfort of right guard, where he’d been voted to Pro Bowls his first two seasons, “shows you what kind of a team guy he is for doing that,” said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. “I’ve been in some situations where guys just flat-out say, ‘I’m not going to do that’ because it’s not in their best interests.

“He did it for us; he did it to help us in the situations we were in.”

[MORE: Bears again practice without Alshon Jeffery]

Long had occasional reps at the right-tackle spot during training camp but not many more than offensive linemen normally take as a way of working against different defensive linemen. Left guard Matt Slauson told Long not long after Long was the Bears’ No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft that he thought the organization had drafted Long to play tackle.

But for a player voted to Pro Bowls as guard in his first two NFL seasons, “it’s been a learning process since then.”

Long and Slauson are the only two Bears on either side of the football to play every snap this season. Pro Football Focus charges Long with four sacks allowed, but three came in the first three games. Long was extremely critical of his play last Sunday in the loss to Washington when he was beaten to the outside by linebacker Trent Murphy.

“I take great pride in my work, in trying to keep the quarterback clean,” Long said. “While it hasn’t been perfect, I think with the guys around me, the coaching staff and just my attitude towards competition and football, we’ll be ok.

“I’m not jumping ship just yet.”

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That will come as good news to his coaches and quarterback. Charles Leno Jr. struggled mightily at right tackle in preseason and has since become ensconced at left tackle. Jermon Bushrod has never played right tackle in his years in New Orleans and here.

Long had played left tackle for 11 games at Saddleback Community College in 2011, then played just 11 games at Oregon, with five starts.

“[Making the switch is] not easy to do, not easy to do,” Cutler said. “Especially kind of the time that we had him to do it, to be able to switch positions like that, I think it speaks how talented he is, what kind of character he has. There have been days when it hasn’t gone very well for him and he still keeps battling. He’ll continue to keep getting better.”

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

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USA Today

Bears logo ranked in bottom five of NFL in recent fan poll

The Chicago Bears logo has withstood the test of time. In a sports era full of uniform changes, the Bears have maintained the classic orange 'C' for most of their nearly 100 years in Chicago.

Unfortunately, tradition doesn't equate to popularity.

Chicago's logo ranked 28th in the NFL, according to a recent poll of nearly 1,500 football fans. Only the Redskins (29), Bengals (30), Jets (31) and Browns (32) were worse.

I’m not sure how I feel about the underbite on the “C.” I can see how this would be a polarizing feature of this logo. I wish to an extent that it met up more evenly. I think they could have had the bottom meet up in a more even fashion and still maintained the sharpness, of the “C,” which I like. I don’t mind the point [ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE “C”], without the point it would be super boring. The point actually does add something from a design standpoint that makes it stand out.

Bears fans will take exception with the results. Wins have been hard to come by in recent seasons, but there's still something special about seeing the familiar navy and orange on Sundays in the fall. The 'C' is arguably the biggest part of that. Sure, it's not a complex design overflowing with colors, but it represents a long and storied history. 

It's interesting that each of the bottom five teams have struggled to string together winning seasons. On the flipside, teams like the Saints, Falcons, Rams, Vikings and Eagles rank in the top six. Maybe it's recency bias.

In the NFC North, the Lions rank No. 2 (which is a shocker) and the Packers are No. 20.