The Chicago Bears are not feeling the love from across the NFL, and it is safe to say that they are not pleased about it. Miffed about a sense of disrespect around the NFL, the Bears want to do something to prove the doubts wrong. The Bears are hoping to catch people by surprise when it is all said and done.
When checking the pulse of all the teams in the NFL, many of pleasant things can be said. There are a few teams that are expected to struggle, i.e. the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans. Where the Bears stand in the eyes of the league is interesting. Despite having several moves which upgraded the team, the feeling is that the Chicago Bears have not improved as much as most would prefer.
It is the belief the Bears will improve on the six wins from last season. The improvements will not be enough for them to make the NFL playoffs. Thus far, USA Today is the only major news outlet that sees the Bears as having a chance to do well.
USA Today, like most publications, believe that the Chicago Bears have a good defense. Where the skepticism comes in at is on the offensive line, and the quarterback it protects, Jay Cutler.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Chicago Bears have the 30th ranked offensive line in the NFL. Among PFF’s reasons for the giving the Bears the third worst ranking, was how the Bears’ linemen were rated singularly.
Right guard Kyle Long was the only member of the offensive with a grade higher than 50 on Pro Football Focus’ scale of 1-100. Long graded out at 61.1.
Continuity, or lack thereof, could be the reason why the Bears are ranked so low. Kyle Long is one person who is not buying. The Pro Bowler went on the offensive with reporters during the first day of Bears’ training camp. Long’s frustration stemmed from how the Chicago Bears have been perceived. His message is that he and his Bears’ teammates have been disrespected by the league, courtesy of ESPN, and they will prove all of the doubters wrong.
“I’m not thinking about it. I know the team’s not thinking about it. I know that it’s not guiding our decision-making throughout the day, I will say that. But I will also say that we are aware of the fact that there’s kind of a league-wide disrespect on the Chicago Bears. I know that we’re not very appreciative of it, and we’re looking forward to getting after it.”
The Bears need to play with passion and a chip on their shoulder this season. Doing so could produce a great Bears’ season. One that could end with the team making the NFL playoffs. A lot of what the Bears can do will hinge on Kyle Long.
Kyle Long is returning to the position on the offensive line where he has performed the best — right guard. While he is not in charge of quarterback Jay Cutler’s blind spot, Long is the most tenured Chicago Bears’ lineman. It is a good possibility that he may be named one of the Bears’ team captains. If so, that will increase his already heavy workload.
As Kyle Long goes, so with the Bears on offense. They will have to play with a certain swagger and a mean streak as they seek to change the perception. Judging from what Pro Football Focus have said about the Bears, they have a right to feel disrespected. If Kyle Long can galvanize the Bears’ offensive line and protect Jay Cutler, things will slowly change.
With protection, Jay Cutler is a Pro Bowl quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, he is just an average passer. PFF handed the Bears’ quarterback situation a ranking of 22 out of 32 NFL teams. The Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills were considered better.
That is also viewed as a sign of disrespect.
For Cutler, it is all about eliminating the mistakes. His history suggests that when he has time, he plays well. We will soon what the Chicago Bears have in store for the rest of the NFL. If the chip becomes a boulder, the Bears will be one tough team. The next thing Kyle Long should say is keep it up.
[Photo by David Banks/Getty Images]