NEWS - FEBRUARY 2014
Rookie Review: Kyle Long
Michael C. Wright February 3rd, 2014
With the Super Bowl out of the way, we wanted to take stock of how Chicago’s 2013 rookie class performed last season.
In general manager Phil Emery’s third year with the Chicago Bears, all six players from his latest class of selections made the 2013 roster. Three became starters, four started games, and one more received playing time.
How did they do? We’ll try to assess right here:
Stats: None individually, but as a rookie starter on what had previously been a shaky offensive line, Kyle Long contributed to improved protection in 2013 for an offense that set multiple single-season franchise records. With Long in the starting lineup, the offense racked up a franchise-record 6,109 yards on the way to finishing second in team history in scoring (445 points).
2013 Role: The team’s first-round pick, Long missed valuable time in the offseason program because he was ineligible to participate in organized team activities and a minicamp because of Oregon’s quarter system, which pushed the school’s final exams back to the middle of June. All along the team planned to make Long a Day 1 starter. So it worked diligently to get Long up to speed in making his NFL transition, and the rookie came along quickly.
Long started all 16 games and was named to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for San Francisco guard Mike Iupati, who broke an ankle in the NFC Championship Game.
The good: Long became the club’s first offensive lineman to earn Pro Bowl recognition since 2006 (Olin Kreutz and Ruben Brown), and played a key role on the right side of the line, especially in the running game. With four new starters on the offensive line, the Bears finished 2013 as one of three teams in the NFL to start the same five offensive linemen for all 16 games, and the group allowed 30 sacks last season, which tied for fourth fewest in the NFL. The club’s 30 sacks ranked as its fewest since 2008, when the Bears surrendered 29 sacks.
Long played a total of 1,079 snaps as a rookie, giving up just two sacks, according to Pro Football Focus as the Bears finished with a 4.9 sacks percentage on a total of 609 drop backs (sixth-lowest for the Bears since sacks became an official statistic in 1982).
Interestingly, Chicago experienced most of its success running behind Long (6.27 yards per attempt to his side), who was penalized just three times all season.
The bad: It’s a bad idea to ever ask a player to take it down a notch, but at times Long’s pedal-to-the-floor style of play led to him being overaggressive, which in turn adversely affected technique. So while the Bears won’t ask Long to dial it down totally, they’ll need him to learn to consistently lean on technique regardless of the situation and atmosphere, even when things get tense. Really, there’s not much bad you can say about what initially seemed like a head-scratcher of a pick in the first round. He earned his way into the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Perhaps the most memorable “bad” moment for Long was his fight near the sidelines on Nov. 24 at St. Louis, involving Rams defensive end William Hayes. But the scuffle appeared to be a case of Long protecting a teammate. That’s a good thing.
Looking ahead: His physical tools, attitude, and thirst to continually improve indicate Long can develop into a key cog on Chicago’s offensive line, and remain there for the next 10 years or so. Once Long can consistently combine the small fundamental elements such as hand placement and weight disbursement when engaged with his tremendous strength, aggression and mobility, the Bears could have something special at the right guard position. What’s scary is Long appears to possess the skill set to kick outside to tackle, should the Bears choose to try him there in the coming years. Based on offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer’s reputation for developing offensive linemen and Long’s willingness to learn, the Bears will coax the most from the rising second-year player. There should be several more Pro Bowls awaiting Long in the future.
NFL partners with CBS on 'Thursday Night Football' package
NFL February 5th, 2014
NEW YORK -- The National Football League will team with longtime broadcast partner CBS to produce and televise "Thursday Night Football" for the 2014 season, it was announced today by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., and Sean McManus, chairman, CBS Sports.
CBS will air eight early-season games that also will be simulcast on NFL Network. NFL Network also will televise eight late-season games in the run-up to the playoffs. The mix of games will include 14 on Thursday nights and two late-season games on Saturday.
The full slate of 16 regular-season games will be produced by CBS with its lead broadcasters and production team, including Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, on all Thursday night games. In a new twist, NFL Network hosts and analysts will be featured in the pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with CBS Sports announcers.
The agreement is for the 2014 season with an additional year at the NFL's option.
"NFL Network built Thursday into a night for NFL fans," Commissioner Goodell said. "Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for 'Thursday Night Football' on CBS."
"We are very pleased to build on our outstanding partnership with the NFL by expanding our coverage to Thursday nights," Moonves said. "CBS is a premium content company and the NFL represents the best premium content there is. I look forward to all this new deal will do for us not only on Thursday nights, but across our entire schedule."
"The NFL is the most powerful programming in television," McManus said. "To add a primetime NFL package to our successful Sunday AFC package further strengthens our position in the sports marketplace. We look forward to having Jim and Phil and our top production team showcased in prime time on Thursday nights."
Phil Simms to Highlight MSU Football Fundraiser
Matt Segal February 14th, 2014
MOREHEAD, Ky. -- Former Morehead State standout Phil Simms, who spent 15 seasons with the National Football League's New York Giants, will be featured at the football program's fundraiser on Saturday, March 29. The event will take place inside MSU's Academic-Athletic Center.
The fundraiser is scheduled to begin with a meet and greet session at 6 p.m. ET. Dinner will follow at approximately 7 p.m. Dinner tickets are $75 per person (which includes a $50 contribution). Dinner, plus the meet and greet, runs $150 per person (which includes a $125 contribution).
A corporate sponsorship option for $1,500 (which includes a $1,300 contribution) is also available. Businesses will receive a table for up to eight guests, access to the meet and greet session and recognition during the program.
Guests attending the meet and greet session will receive an autographed photo of Phil. All proceeds will support the MSU football program, and contributions are tax deductible. Reservations should be made by Friday, March 21.
Space is limited, so Eagle fans and supporters are encouraged to act quickly. To make reservations on-line, visit https://alumni.moreheadstate.edu/philsimms. For more information, call 1-877-690-4483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Everyone associated with the Morehead State football program is excited about Phil's appearance on March 29," Head Coach Rob Tenyer said. "We hope all MSU fans and supporters will be able to join us for what should be a fantastic evening."
Simms, who lettered for the Eagles from 1975-78, tallied 5,545 passing yards, 32 touchdowns and was named Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year as a senior. He was inducted into the Morehead State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.
Playing for the Giants from 1979-93, Simms shattered 19 franchise records. His numbers are retired by both the Giants (#11) and Morehead State (#12).
Simms led the Giants to Super Bowl victories at the end of the 1986 and 1990 seasons. He was also selected to the Pro Bowl following the 1985 and 1993 campaigns.
A graduate of Southern High School in Louisville, Simms joined CBS Sports in 1998. He currently works with Jim Nantz on the network's lead NFL broadcast crew.
"Everyone points to Phil as the most successful player in our football program's history," Tenyer said. "Not only did he have an outstanding playing career, but he's a terrific person. We truly appreciate his support of our current and future players."