Film Study: The Bears’ run game misses guard Kyle Long

Thoughts and observations watching film of the Bears’ 29-7 loss to the Buccaneers in Week 2:

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The Bucs had a simple plan to stop the Bears: stop the run and force quarterback Mike Glennon to beat them with his maligned receiving corps and tight ends.

It worked perfectly. The speed and athleticism of the Bucs’ linebackers — Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and Kendall Beckwith (a third-round draft pick this year) — made for serious problems. The trio shot gaps and sped past the Bears’ blockers often.

Bears quarterback Mike Glennon hands off to Jordan Howard on Sunday. (AP)

This is where guard Kyle Long — who still is rehabilitating his surgically repaired right ankle — is missed. Long’s own speed and athleticism make him formidable against the second level of defenses.

Running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 16 yards on 14 carries in the first half. Howard was a non-factor, with seven yards on nine carries. The Bucs tackled him for a loss three times in the first half. Cohen’s speed also wasn’t the factor it was in Week 1. He was taken down for a loss twice during the possession that ended with Glennon’s pick-six.

Long also was missed against defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who shoved left guard Tom Compton out of the way to tackle Howard for a three-yard loss on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage. McCoy also was credited with four hits on Glennon.

It’s worth noting that Long didn’t play much in the Bucs’ 36-10 blowout of the Bears last season. He suffered his gruesome ankle injury on the third play of the second quarter in that game, with the Bucs leading 7-3.

The Bears’ struggles in the running game started in the opener against the Falcons. After gaining 99 yards on 11 carries in the first half of that game — with much of that coming on Cohen’s 46-yard scamper — they rushed for just 26 yards on eight carries in the second half.

Late concerns

The Bears had two dropped passes in their final possession against the Falcons in a game they could have won. Against the Bucs, they had five dropped passes in the fourth quarter while trailing 29-0. Cohen, Josh Bellamy, Tanner Gentry and Kendall Wright (twice) were responsible for them.

The Bucs’ defenders had their late drops, too. Safety T.J. Ward almost intercepted Glennon’s underthrown pass to receiver Deonte Thompson in the final two minutes. The deflected pass also fell through the hands of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.

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Rookie safety Eddie Jackson was aggressive in run support — an encouraging performance after he failed to tackle Falcons tight end Austin Hooper on his 40-yard catch-and-run in the opener. Jackson’s tackling had been a pre-draft concern.

Jackson’s first four tackles Sunday came against the Bucs’ running backs. He helped defensive lineman Akiem Hicks stop Charles Sims III for no gain on a third-and-short in the first quarter. Jackson also cut through a hole to tackle running back Jacquizz Rodgers for a one-yard loss in the third quarter.

Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

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