Even though the season of the Chicago Bears has been up and down, it still hasn’t changed the fact that the Bears has had some quality talent on their team this season. Yesterday, five Chicago players were named to the NFC Pro Bowl, and for the first time since 2004, linebacker Lance Briggs wasn’t on the list.
Briggs had the longest streak of Pro Bowl appearances of any player in the league since 2005 with seven. Throughout the first 15 games this season, Briggs continued to fill the stats sheet with 96 tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, nine pass deflections, two forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns.
The outside linebackers that were named to the NFC’s roster were Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews, San Francisco 49ers Aldon Smith, and Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Ware. All three of these linebackers have two things in common: they play in a 3-4 defensive scheme and they are all pass rushers.
I have no problem of Matthews, Smith, and Ware being named to the Pro Bowl. All three have recorded double-digit sacks this season, and are some of the game’s best pass rushers. My gripe is that Briggs was overlooked for the Pro Bowl.
Unfortunately, Briggs has finally felt the effect of pro football’s gravitation to the 3-4 defense. The main responsibility for the outside linebacker in this scheme is to rush the quarterback. Therefore, the only thing that is expected out of the outside linebacker position now is a high number of sacks.
Getting sacks is one thing, but contributing to a defense with a high number of tackles, forced fumbles, interceptions, pass deflections, and touchdowns in addition to sacks deserves Pro Bowl recognition.
Besides, the rules of the Pro Bowl better suits what Briggs has done throughout the entire season, which is make plays in stopping the run and defending the pass. As for Matthews, Smith, and Ware, they can’t even put on display what got them to the Pro Bowl because blitzing the quarterback is against the Pro Bowl rules.
There is still a chance that Briggs will be a part of the NFC squad. Every year players named to the Pro Bowl back out due to lingering injuries, and I don’t expect anything different this season. Also, since the Pro Bowl will be played a week before the Super Bowl, any player that is on one of the two teams playing for the championship can’t participate in the all-star game.
In the event that Matthews, Smith, or Ware are nursing an injury or are in the Super Bowl, then Briggs should be the first to get a call to fill the spot on the NFC roster. But I do go in the record saying that Briggs should be continuing his streak of Pro Bowl appearances.
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