Chicago Bears Head Coach John Fox has mastered the art of using a lot of words to say very little, though his latest greatest hit should certainly raise some eyebrows.
Right guard Kyle Long played one snap in Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers … and it didn’t even come at his natural position. Long’s lone appearance on Sunday came on a Connor Barth field goal attempt before the end of the first half which cut the Bears’ deficit to 4 at the time.
Fox was asked about why Long was healthy enough to suit up and play a special teams snap in a pinch when Josh Sitton missed a play with an apparent injury of his own, but not healthy enough to earn a start against Green Bay. His answer was pure Fox as he vaguely said “time will tell” if Long can return from an injury he suffered on the first drive of the team’s Week 8 loss against the New Orleans Saints.
“Last week I didn’t feel like he was quite able to practice in a full speed to be prepared,” Fox said via Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “He’s physically capable of being active. But, again, this is a game where you have to practice to get ready for a game in a lot of cases. So he was active, so he was healthy enough, but I’m not sure he was going to be healthy enough to take 70 snaps.”
This is a bit of a turn for Fox, who suggested Long could have played through the injury that occurred on October 29. That’s when Fox said Long was “capable” of returning to game action, but preferred to play a healthier player. Keeping Long on the sideline was a decision Fox said he would do again in a similar situation, which is precisely what he did.
Remember, Long was listed as a limited participant in practice all week before the Packers game and was questionable on Friday’s injury report. Still, it’s understandable if you believed Long would play because there weren’t any indications he wouldn’t.
The Bears missed Long’s presence on Sunday because his removal from the lineup shuffles the interior of the offensive line. Cody Whitehair moved to right guard in Long’s absence, which inserted Hroniss Grasu into the starting lineup at center. Grasu struggled again and was constantly pushed into the backfield by Green Bay’s excellent interior linemen. If Long isn’t healthy, one of the Bears’ few strengths quickly turns into a weakness – and the entire offense suffers because of it.