Bears’ Kyle Long primed for a second shot at Lions’ Ndamukong Suh
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter November 8, 2013 9:34PM
Updated: December 10, 2013 6:11AM
Kyle Long spent Monday night blocking B.J. Raji, while his brother, eating pizza on the couch, got all the credit.
Television analyst Jon Gruden kept calling the Bears right guard “Chris.”
Kyle is used to being mistaken for the Rams defensive end. When he was recruited by Oklahoma, coach Bob Stoops called Kyle by his brother’s name during an entire lunch meeting.
Long has a second chance to make a name for himself Sunday in a rematch against Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who will be eager to punish a sore Jay Cutler.
A rematch is new to Long, who never has started against the same team twice, be it at Saddleback College in 2011, Oregon in 2012 or this year with the Bears.
Long said that “playing against [Suh] and having that experience under my belt” will be to his benefit.
“We’ve played them before,” he said. “That’s the biggest difference.”
Not that he would want to relive Week 4.
Suh had two sacks and five hurries in 44 pass rushes, forcing a fumble by Cutler that Nick Fairley returned for a score.
Pro Football Focus awarded Suh a 6.2 grade, his highest of the year and best since Week 13 of last season. Long scored a career-low -2.8.
You can hear Suh salivating all the way from Michigan. He called Long the Bears’ “prodigy” and “golden boy” in conversations with Detroit reporters this week.
“[Long] had some solid blocks one-on-one with him,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. “But then he had some where his technique was off from the beginning.”
Long said his lesson from the first round with Suh was, “Don’t try to do too much.”
“It’s not like things that happened [in Detroit] aren’t fixable,” Long said. “We know what we did. We know what we can do moving forward.”
Two games ago, Long was tricked by the Redskins on the play in which Cutler was sacked and injured. Defensive end Kedric Goldston engaged Long and pushed toward center Roberto Garza. Long would have passed him off to Garza, but Garza was blocking linebacker London Fletcher. Defensive end Chris Baker started at right end and stunted left, sacking Cutler. Long would have tried to block Baker, but said he was held.
“It’s a growing process for Kyle in every practice, every day, every drill,” Kromer said. “You get so much information that you forget what you knew before and you forget Day 1. So it’s a constant process.
“Any time a rookie’s starting in the National Football League, it’s all new to him. Every situation’s new, and I thought he’s handled most of them well. And he’s still got a long way to go.”
There’s a “big difference” between Long in Week 4 and today, Kromer said.
Long agreed — but refuted the idea there was added pressure to protect Cutler upon his return from a torn left groin.
“Regardless,” he said, “you want your quarterback to stay upright.”
That didn’t happen in Detroit, though Kromer tried to deflect blame away from the line. One of the Lions’ three sacks came after Cutler refused to throw the ball away, Kromer said. Others, he said, came when the Bears trailed in the second half, “and everyone in the stadium knows you’re about to throw the ball for the 30th time straight.”
Whatever the reason, neither Long nor the Bears want to see a repeat of the last Lions game.
“We’ve just got to do a good job up front,” coach Marc Trestman said. “And we’ve got be able to have the ability to move the quarterback around and get away from the rush.”