When the New England Patriots put on the film of their upcoming Super Bowl LII opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, they will see some familiar faces. Among them is edge rusher Chris Long. The veteran defender spent last season with the Patriots and helped the team win the Super Bowl – his first championship victory – before joining the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent.
Long was signed by Philadelphia on March 28 but had already announced his intentions to leave New England almost a month earlier. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick believes that it was a good decision for the 32-year old. “He probably has a better fit there for his skills and for this point in his career than maybe we had for him,” Belichick said during a press conference on Wednesday. “I understand that.”
With the Patriots, the long-time St. Louis Ram served as a rotational option on the defensive edge. While he ended the season as the team's leader in playing time at the position, his usage changed over the course of the year: The emergence of Trey Flowers cut into Long's snap numbers and the former second-overall draft pick finished the year with only four sacks.
Now in Philadelphia, Long has posted similar numbers when compared to his lone season in Foxboro. However, Belichick notes that his usage is a bit different. “I think his defensive role is similar to what it was when was with the Rams,” said Long's former coach. “Chris has a lot of good skills, but his overall skill set and experience is probably more in – it definitely is more in the system that he’s in than it was in our system.”
“He probably made a good decision,” continued Long's former head coach. “If the team and the player make the right choice then it works out well.” For Long, it worked out pretty well. Not only has he quickly become a fan favorite in Philadelphia, he also will have the chance to play for his second championship ring next week. On the opposite sideline, the man and who revived his career: Bill Belichick and the Patriots.