Phil Emery did almost everything right for the Chicago Bears when he upgraded the offense with new receivers and running backs. His one calculated risk was on the offensive line. Is Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins a possibility?
Health of Long could force Joe Philbin into tough choices
Going to four straight Pro Bowls usually earns a player the benefit of the doubt when wondering about his toughness. Jake Long proved it last season when he played through injuries to another Pro Bowl game. Still the injury problems continue and despite repeated statements from the Miami Dolphins management that Long is their long-term left tackle, the changing winds are hard to ignore. Head coach Joe Philbin has already unloaded two key players on the team roster in Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis. Long meanwhile becomes a free agent in 2013. News on whether he and the team are talking a new deal is quiet. For all his skills Long doesn't fit what Philbin wants to do in Miami. His offense will center on new quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Long is a good pass blocker but an even better run blocker. Combined with his injury problems and the Dolphins may choose to trade him or let him leave next year.
Emery could use same tactic on J'Marcus Webb as Brandon Marshall
Everyone remembers the first big move of the Phil Emery era. Barely minutes into the start of free agency had the Bears trading for three-time Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall. Then in a departure from past GMs Emery drafted talented rookie Alshon Jeffery out of South Carolina. In barely a month he had turned a team weakness into strength. Whether it was by design or not is up for debate. A bigger question is could Emery do it again? Chicago has their well-covered problems with the offensive line and how they can protect quarterback Jay Cutler. Among the five spots none has gotten more attention than left tackle. In a roster battle that went through training camp and four preseason games 23-year-old J'Marcus Webb managed to keep his job over teammate Chris Williams. That choice doesn't comfort Bears fans. While Webb has the body and skills to play such an important spot his grasp of mental parts of the game have turned him into a media punching bag. Not even Cutler is sure what to expect from him. That is why many fans sneak peeks down to Miami. Back in April there were a lot of rumors that the Dolphins might unload Long because he didn't fit the new offense under Philbin and had a growing injury history. On the flip side the four-time Pro Bowl tackle fits perfectly in the run-first offense expected from Bears coÃ¶rdinator Mike Tice. If Emery were to snag him in a trade or free agency next season he could repeat what he did with the receivers by drafting another lineman in the top rounds.
Brandon Marshall was a rare case in the trade market. It's hard seeing the Miami Dolphins and Joe Philbin doing the same with Jake Long. Then again if J'Marcus Webb doesn't work out the Chicago Bears have surprised everyone before.