Moon: Lance Briggs’ Bears legacy set the standard for OLB’s


Moon: Lance Briggs’ Bears legacy set the standard for OLB’s

In the third round of this year’s draft the Bears selected a player – center Hroniss Grasu. If they get a fraction of what the last third-round No. 55 gave them over more than a decade, it will have been a sterling pick.

That No. 55 was Lance Briggs, the 2003 third-rounder and seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker. On Wednesday, Briggs announced his plans to retire and moving on to work as an analyst with Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s “Pre- and Post-game Live” broadcasts.

Selfishly, this is great news. Lance will join Dan Jiggetts and Jim Miller, giving us three very bright bulbs who know the Bears and the game, and with host Chris Boden, the ability to present the things that matter in ways that make sense both to the former player and to “civilians.” I’ll have the good fortune of joining the team from on-site with the Bears.

But these kinds of moments also come with a spot of sadness, regardless of how inevitable they are. Lance’s last couple of years were ones of injury and decline, but that doesn’t fog the view of what Lance Briggs was, and that was simply one of the great linebackers in the history of a team with a history of great linebackers.

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Briggs was sometime overshadowed by the presence and play of Brian Urlacher. That was too bad. While the characterization of Briggs as “Robin” to Urlacher’s “Batman” may have been cute, it slighted a player peers knew well how really special Briggs was.

He was a designer weakside linebacker in Lovie Smith’s scheme, and it’s easy to forget that Briggs won the starting job as the strongside linebacker as a rookie, in an entirely different (two-gap) scheme under then-coordinator Greg Blache. He was stout enough to finish fourth on the team in tackles (81) despite not starting until Week 4.

What wasn’t lost on the incoming Lovie Smith staff was that Briggs could cover. He had at least one interception in 10 of his 12 seasons, and his talent was such that Smith eventually left both Briggs and Urlacher on the field in “dime” packages. Smith matter-of-factly that Briggs was a better pass defender than his fourth cornerback or safety.

Briggs, 34, was open to continuing playing but no offers materialized this offseason. He was willing to consider a role in the new 3-4 defense under John Fox but the Bears were not in the market.

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Mike Trout says Browns will win more games than Bears in 2018

Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout is quickly becoming an icon in American sports. The two-time American League MVP is enjoying another dominant season batting .335 with 23 home runs and 48 RBI.

On Tuesday, he took a swing at what Bears fans may consider a shocking NFL prediction.

“I’ve got the Browns having a better record than the Bears,” Trout told a radio reporter, according to the Los Angeles Times. Trout's comments were made in response the reporter "talking up" Chicago.

Both the Browns and Bears have had productive offseasons that involved headline-grabbing acquisitions on offense. Cleveland drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick, traded for WR Jarvis Landry, signed RB Carlos Hyde and drafted a backfield mate for him in Georgia's Nick Chubb. They added potential lockdown corner Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick, too. Add all that to a motivated Josh Gordon ready to contribute for a full season, and there's good reason to be excited in Cleveland.

Still, it's hard imagining Trout can be that confident in a team that's won only one game over the last two seasons. And let's not forget what GM Ryan Pace has done this offseason, one that's been praised by analysts from all corners of the NFL universe. From new coach Matt Nagy to free-agent WR Allen Robinson and all the skill players in between, the Bears are ready to make a legitimate run in the NFC North.

Trout doesn't strike out much in the major leagues, but this prediction feels like it could be a back-straining whiff.

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is Matt Forte pushing for a coaching job with the Bears?

Is former Bears star Matt Forte going to be the team’s new running backs coach?

For now, that’s Charles London’s job, who was hired to head coach Matt Nagy’s staff earlier this year.

But on Tuesday night, Forte tweeted that he would like a coaching spot with Chicago sometime in the near future.

Serving as evidence, the now-retired running back responded to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which announced the Broncos’ hiring of former linebacker Demarcus Ware as a “pass-rush consultant on a part-time basis.” Forte tweeted at the Bears, saying that he is “available” to take on a similar role to Ware’s new Denver gig.

Forte’s tweet was relatively cryptic, and he never specified exactly what type of job he would want with the Bears. After finishing up a storied career this past season and solidifying his name as a Bears legend, Forte has proven that he could easily coach young running backs or even wide receivers at some point.

But isn’t this all just a joke?

Forte silenced the doubters by tweeting “I wasn’t joking” as a response to an article saying that his desire for a new occupation with the Bears was simply a gag. The former workhorse was also intrigued by a fan’s tweet asking “Coach Forte??”

The mere thought of having Forte back in Chicago with the Bears’ coaching staff sent fans on Twitter into a frenzy. In April, Forte came back to Halas Hall to ink his name on a one-day contract, successfully allowing him to retire as a Bear. Now, Forte wants a lengthier stay in the Windy City.

Ware’s role with Denver is not extensive by any means and, according to Schefter, he will work a pretty scattered schedule with Broncos players. What Forte’s role would look like with the Bears is completely unknown if his plan to coach becomes a reality.

Forte has the running back credentials to take on a coaching position. In eight seasons with the Bears, Forte racked up a combined 8,602 rushing yards, second to only the great Walter Payton. Forte’s 4,116 receiving yards as a running back, 12,718 yards from scrimmage, 24 games with 100 rushing yards and 25 games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage also ranks second behind Payton.

Maybe this will be a new development in Chicago’s offseason plans, but there is no real talk of bringing one of the team’s all-time leading rushers back to the team as of right now.

Last month, NBC Sports Chicago announced Forte will be joining the network as a Bears game day studio analyst for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. And we're not joking about that.