Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears is playing football at the highest level of his career–or at least that is what the experts keep telling us. For those of us who have seen Briggs play throughout his career, we know how good he’s been for a long time. Now before I continue showing my Second City mentality, Briggs has been in the NFL Pro Bowl seven times and three times All Pro, but he’s rarely in the conversation of best linebackers in football. Playing in the shadow of Brian Urlacher is difficult, but Briggs is finally becoming his own guy. It couldn’t come at a better time for the Bears.
Sure, Briggs has had some contract negotiation issues, but these seem to resolve themselves and he is finally a happy camper with the Bears. Last season, I expressed my displeasure with Briggs’ handling of his contract situation, but his tactics worked and the team satisfied him. While I hate guys who sign a contract and then complain about it, Briggs obviously had a strategy that worked.
One of Brigg’s other problems is he doesn’t get the “sexy stats” like sacks–all he does is make tackles. He’s used frequently in coverage and isn’t asked to rush the passer, but his coverage skills are finally getting him kudos. He has two interceptions he returned for touchdowns. Of course, that helped put him more on the radar.
While Briggs isn’t the only guy contributing on this defense, he is clearly its best player this year. Julius Peppers is playing on a bad foot and the above-mentioned Urlacher still isn’t 100 percent, but Briggs is all over the field. Charles Tillman is also playing his best football, as shown in last night’s game when he essentially shut down the league’s most feared receiver, Calvin Johnson.
I speak for all Bears fans that this defense is something special. As someone who remembers the 1985 Bears defense, I will argue that this unit is potentially better. How do you like dem apples?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Follow me on Twitter @chicagobearjew and Hashtag #RML with your comments.