To suggest that the reason the Bears drafted Kyle Long with the 20th pick of the 2013 first-round was as an answer to Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a bit of hyperbole. The Bears also made left guard Matt Slauson an offseason priority as well, for purposes of shoring up the area closest to quarterback Jay Cutler.
But Suh’s general area of operations is opposite the right guard, which is Long. The matchup on Sunday brings together the NFL’s ranking 'Prince of Darkness' in Suh and the Bears’ emerging tough guy, with MMA training and a disposition to match.
“You want a guy like that,” Cutler said. “I’m not saying those other four wouldn’t come to bat, but they’d have to beat Kyle because he’s going to try to be the first one in line.”
Aah, but therein lies the problem. If there is going to be a Long-Suh explosion, it will likely be Long responding to Suh misbehavior against Cutler or another teammate in a vulnerable postion, Suh’s usual M.O.
Indeed, if there is trouble, it is unlikely to trace to a specific Long-vs-Suh moment. Suh’s cheap shots to offensive linemen have been things like a blindside low block on Minnesota center John Sullivan after an interception (Sullivan was injured, Suh was fined) or a head-thumping and stomping of Green Bay guard Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Suh isn’t stupid. He administers his brand of violence on linemen either on the ground or not looking, or on quarterbacks, who are smaller and avoiding him – defenseless people, not ones bigger than he is or face-to-face with him.
Long isn’t stupid, either. He has had his confrontations with teammates in practice but he is more apt to lose his composure and take down Suh for a cheap shot on Cutler than on himself.
The focus of the week for Long, who declined interview requests this week, is on what Suh is rather than what he is supposed to be.
“We don’t go by reputation,” said offensive coordinator and line coach Aaron Kromer. “We go by tape. So Kyle’s watched the tape, we’ve watched it together. We’re working on technique.
“And that’s all you can do going into a game. You can’t think about who it is or what you’ve heard about him. You just got to watch what you do and how your technique is, and what you think he’ll do against you. And try to counteract that.”
To that end, Long was working late after practice with assistant OL coach Pat Meyer on pass-blocking sets, quickness from stance to set.
“I think if he stays focused on that it won’t be as difficult to deal with because he won’t be as concerned about other things,” said coach Marc Trestman
“He’s going to lose some battles. The important thing is that he gets back up, like we all try to do in the course of the game.”