Since the departure of Brian Urlacher, Nick Roach, and Lovie Smith, the question hanging over the heads of football fans has been over how the defensive line will perform after such drastic change to the team. A lot of pressure has been put on linebacker Lance Briggs, and Briggs has volunteered himself for the responsibility of running the plays of the defensive line, keeping the line tight, and mentoring the rookies while making sure veteran players are focused and challenged by his leadership.
First, the concern about how Briggs would handle the pressure seems a little overdramatic. He has been a solid, key player for the Chicago Bears for over a decade, almost as long as Urlacher. Briggs has played twenty-five games in his career without Urlacher and was just fine. This included 2009 when Urlacher missed 15 games, the same year Briggs went to the Pro Bowl. He has missed four games in ten years. The challenge is not going to be whether or not Briggs can handle being relied on to run a defensive line; the challenge is how Briggs will manage a line of veterans and rookies under the guidance of a new coaching staff. Briggs has core teammates like Charles Tillman, Julius Peppers, and Tim Jennings returning, so the gaping absences will not be that difficult to adjust to in reality. Balancing veterans like D.J. Williams and James Anderson with rookies like Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene means using his leadership abilities with the old dogs and the new recruits.
His performance in training camp has brought a lot of success and Briggs recognizes when he’s fallen short or made a bad call, hoping to keep getting sharper and maintaing and building on the progress he has made. Defensive coordinator, Mel Tucker, said Briggs’s performance is “a work in progress, but it’s been getting progressively better and that’s what you want to see.” Briggs himself recognizes the challenge before him and said, “It’s different. You’ve been in a system for a long time. You’re told to change and do things a different way. It just takes time.”
Time is fleeting. With a week until preseason football and a month until regular season, now is the time to focus on getting skills sharpened and players focused. With this team the Bears have a shot at a Wild Card spot in the playoffs, and with Briggs leading the defense the Bears are going to be a threat. Briggs has been helping the new coaches learn the Bears system, mentoring and guiding the rookies, and rebuilding a slightly fractured yet determined defensive line. We put our faith in Lance Briggs because he’s the Bear with the talent, focus, drive, and leadership skills to drive this team to victory.
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