It appears the main reason Bears guard Kyle Long was asked to phone in to yesterday's "Rich Eisen Show" was to talk about former Oregon Ducks, from Marcus Mariota's leadership and charisma to the culture Chip Kelly instills in his teams. The methods to Kelly's madness is an ongoing national topic now that he's blown up and pieced the Philadelphia Eagles back together despite back-to-back 10-6 seasons.
But we here in Chicago are more concerned about what's going on at Halas Hall, now that this week marked the start of voluntary, off-field workouts under the new coaching regime. Through most accounts by hearsay, attendance is strong despite the absence of running back Matt Forte, who appears to be making whatever statement he can about working out elsewhere as he enters the final year of a four-year contract. The training facilities are open to veterans under contract for supervised weight training, and rehabbing injured players get to work with the training and medical staffs. Perhaps most importantly of all, the new coaching staff gets a fixed amount of daily classroom time with the players about the schemes they're implementing.
It's certainly safe to call Long a long-term cornerstone to this offense, no matter how and where he'll be implemented. And while being careful to respect the previous regime that brought him to Chicago, the two-time Pro Bowl guard further fueled optimism when sharing the culture change in the building.
"The guys we're playing for now are just older versions of us," Long told Eisen. "They understand what we're going through ... They do a great job of balancing work and your life outside of football, and they're also football guys. They're crazy about it and John Fox is hitting biceps curls next to me, talking smack, telling me to put weight on the bar. I think we got the right guys in the building.
"They're a bunch of 'men's men' upstairs. They love football and everything that comes about with football. That's apparent here."
[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans]
To be fair, Marc Trestman promoted that balance between work and life outside of football, but the execution of that concept was never fully realized, and the on-field execution crumbled with each passing week.
"We need to score more points than the other team, and defensively we need to allow less points than we're scoring," Long said. "If we can't play defense, if we can't play offense or special teams, good things aren't going to happen. I feel we have the right people in the building to achieve that. It's been very evident the past two days it's a different culture here."