After a year away from football Kyle Long has returned and is now a Kansas City Chief. Here is how the team can get the most out of him.
Did it really surprise anyone that the Chiefs went out and signed Kyle Long? This move has echoed what Brett Veach is about as a general manager, and what the Chiefs are about as a team. The team brings him in on a one-year deal worth up to five million dollars, with most of the money being worked into incentives.
Long, a former three-time Pro-Bowler, and a one-time All-Pro team member as a member of the Chicago Bears returns to football after taking all of the 2020 season off. The last season he played professionally was the 2019 season, in which he struggled, and was often injured, only playing in four games. At 32 years old he is far from a spring chicken, and this could be his last shot at professional football, but if any team can get the most out of whatever he has left in the tank it’s the Chiefs.
In Chicago long dominated as a right guard using tremendous strength and size to win reps, as well as a nasty disposition. Physicality was the name of his game, and it is something the Chiefs desperately need upfront. He may have lost athleticism by the end of his tenure for the Bears, but his striking power with his hands and his ability to win the placement battle did not. This has always been his strength, but it something that Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck has emphasized in the past.
Long was less mobile in 2019, likely due to injury issues, but he was still hard to move and was rarely bull rushed. His base is strong, and while he doesn’t always play with the best leverage, he overcomes it with physicality. The Chiefs need nasty and Long brings it to the table
When most people think of physicality at guard they think of domination in the run game. For the Chiefs people should think of it in the passing game. So many times this year teams only rushed Patrick Mahomes with three or four guys. This year when teams do that, the men up front need to physically beat guys up. Long is the kind of player to break his opponents will and is always looking for a chance to finish. In 2021 if teams only want to bring three or four the Chiefs need to make them pay.
Based on the film, Long still has some explosion left in his game and we even got to see it at times. He works well up the field on the backside of zone and makes a nice cut block to sell out for his team. The block ends up being big in freeing up the big gain.
At 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, long uses his arm length to help him beat defensive tackles in pass pro, and gives him an edge when it comes to resetting and winning plays. He is constantly working to get his hands inside and throw shots at the ribs and middle of defenders bodies, where there is little padding and where he can gain control over the defender’s body.
So how much more does Long have left in the tank? At this point based on the film, he still has enough to give the Chiefs better play than they had at the position last season. Will he return to looking like a former All-Pro? That is doubtful, but he will provide a boost and depth to a position that desperately needs it. A year away from the game can also make a big impact for a lineman. A chance to rest and recover from years of wear and tear and brutality that comes with life in the trenches.
Experience and physicality can overcome a lot in the NFL, especially at offensive line, and Long has both. With his body healed, and his passion for the game reinvigorated this has all the makings of a home run pick up by the Chiefs. Don’t be surprised if this is seen as one of the biggest offseason moves made by a team in pursuit of a Lombardi Trophy.