I got this idea from a series of articles at The Draft Network, where they are giving their superlative picks in seven different categories for all 32 teams. I thought it would be a fun exercise to run through myself, so fun in fact that I sent the questions out to our team as well. And since I didn’t want us to have all the fun, I even shot out the question on Twitter to get your takes.
Yesterday we talked about the Breakout Guy for the 2019 Chicago Bears, and today we’re going to discuss who will be the Comeback Kid. But before we get into our selections, let’s see who Joe Marino of The Draft Network picked.
COMEBACK KID: OL KYLE LONG
Fingers crossed because Long has been a candidate for this superlative going into the previous three seasons as well. When healthy, the impact Long makes it abundantly clear. He’s powerful in the run game, reliable in pass protection and he’s dynamic when blocking on the move.
After being named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three NFL seasons, Long has battled a long list of injuries. In 2016, he was limited to eight games because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder, strained triceps and and ankle injury. Shoulder, ankle and finger injuries only allowed him to play in nine games in 2017. His 2018 season only lasted eight games because of a foot injury.
This troubling pattern needs to end.
After agreeing with Marino yesterday, I find myself doing the same thing again. I’ve talked about the importance of Kyle Long for the 2019 Bears, so much so that I named him as my 9th Most Important Bear this year. Not only does he bring a physicality to the offense, but he beings some leadership and attitude. I’d rather not see the helmet swinging type of attitude on display during any real games, but Long plays the game with an edge, and you need a guy like that at times.
Now let’s check on who the WCG staffers picked for their Comeback Kid for the 2019 Bears.
Robert Schmitz - Kyle Long, RG
There’s really no better choice for this than the man who enters the 2019 season truly healthy for the first time in years. A warrior when the Bears are running the ball, Kyle Long has been a team leader since he was drafted and should provide that extra “edge” this line will need throughout the year.
Sam Householder - Kyle Long, RG
I know it may be the tired answer, but I think it’s important. Long is still a very good guard and is going to anchor a strong inside of the OL. This is totally meatball of me, but when he got into a fight last week and had to be suspended from the game, I was like ‘KYLE IS BACK!’ He’s such a red ass and its good to see him being that competitive asshole again.
Erik Duerrwaechter - Kyle Long, RG
For the first time in years, Kyle is not coming off major surgery for injuries he’s sustained since 2016. When he’s in the lineup, the Bears’ O-line is that much better, especially during moments they’re looking to pound the defense with their inside zone run game. There are no guarantees regarding his future in Chicago; however, let’s not worry about that quite yet. Instead, let’s get hyped about a healthy O-Line that’s talented and capable of being a top five unit in 2019.
Josh Sunderbruch - Kyle Long, RG
On second thought, I’m going to go with Adam Shaheen.
No, just joking, it’s Long. I doubt he’s going to be anything like he was in his prime, but with Daniels and Whitehair along the interior, and with a capable stable of backs in place, Long is going to have a chance to operate as both a mauler and a technician, and that gives him the range he needs to show off why he was so loved by fans.
Aaron Leming - Allen Robinson II, WR
This may seem like somewhat of a unfit choice here but hear me out. Robinson was signed to a three-year, $42 million deal last off-season. He was coming off an ACL tear and didn’t play during the preseason. It took him until about half way through the season to really get back to his normal self. This year, I expect him to be the unquestioned number one target for Trubisky. On top of that, I expect him to far eclipse the 1,000 yard mark and challenge for his first Pro Bowl since he was in Jacksonville.
Robert Zeglinski - Trey Burton, TE
The easy answer is Kyle Long considering he missed over half of the best Bears season in almost a decade. But comeback players are usually about the better or fresher story. Long missing a significant portion of a season has happened three years in a row. It’s not new news.
I think the better story is the return of a healthy Burton after missing last January’s Wild Card Game. There was a sense of a slight kerfuffle of tension over Burton’s (legitimate) groin injury given the way the Bears (unsurprisingly) poorly framed it. An off-season surgery later and there are no questions. Now with Chicago’s tight end room very much in flux, I foresee a big year for the all-around team guy in Burton to pick up the slack.
Ken Mitchell - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S
HHCD has never played in a defense with one smidgen of the talent that he’s playing with now, and he hasn’t played with a safety partner as good as Eddie Jackson since Clinton-Dix was in college at Alabama and partnered with... well... Eddie Jackson. Clinton-Dix has a couple of holes in his game... he doesn’t take great angles when moving towards an oncoming ball carrier and he’s not a stellar tackler, but look for Chicago to mask some of those by positioning him correctly and by giving him a lot more support than the bad defenses in Green Bay were able to.
Patti Curl - Khalil Mack, OLB
After missing a couple of games to injury, falling short of potential in terms of sacks, pressures, and MVP votes, and coming up third in the NFL’s peer-voted top 100 competition, Khalil Mack is poised for a bounce back season. He now has a whole off-season to get comfortable in the Bears system, and I see no reason for him to fall short of my 20 sack, 5 touchdown, MVP expectations again.
I didn’t predict that many sacks for Mack, but I do have him getting another 1st Team All-Pro nod. You can see all my Bears 2019 defensive statistical predictions in this article here.
Now let’s check in with Twitter to see what some of you guys had to say about your Comeback Kid pick for the Bears.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, after practically being shunned last year by Green Bay and dismisses in Washington (mostly due to them being horrible) he will be back to “pro-bowl” form. He was great his first few years, imagine how he will be with the best supporting cast in the league.— Josh Kullen (@JoshKullen) August 23, 2019
Hmmm ... I’ll go Ha Ha Clinton Dix on a Show me Contract.— Cows R Fun (@JayElwood) August 23, 2019
Ha Ha: proven ball hawk & 1st rd talent playing with the best defense of his career— Nate Upham (@Bearsfan5234) August 23, 2019
Robinson: fully healthy and second year in offense with Trubisky. Went 1400/14 2nd yr. with Blake Bortles
Allen Robinson. We only saw glimpses of his ability last year in his return from ACL surgery, to the point some questioned his contract. Expect more dominating performances akin to the Wild Card game.— Ewarrenstan (@TJ_Shouse) August 23, 2019
Adam Shaheen, I'm hoping that this is the year he puts it all together.— Scott Paisley (@TSPyea) August 23, 2019
Adam Shaheen due to the fact injuries have held the former 2nd rd pick back so far in his career i believe if the 6'6 baby gronk can remain healthy he will be a redzone monster with at least 10TDs this year— Shaheen Apologist (@JOF3_) August 23, 2019
Trubisky, Burton, and Shaheen all fell short of MY expectations last year. Hopefully they all have a better year, but based on contract, BURTON is the one I want to see as the Comeback Kid. Play a valuable role in a playoff victory and all is well.— c55 (@cemarshall55) August 23, 2019
Now it’s your turn, who is your Bears Comeback Kid for 2019?