Briggs: Dont blow up a 'championship team'

607884.png

Briggs: Dont blow up a 'championship team'

It is not what the critics of GM Jerry Angelo or coach Lovie Smith want to hear. But it is a consistent thread among core Bears players who believed before this season that they were on the brink of at least another run to an NFC Championship game, or more:

Do not even think about blowing this team up and starting over.

This team we have is very capable, said linebacker Lance Briggs, echoing sentiments he expressed to CSNChicago.com during training camp. This is a championship team. Even though were not going to make the championship this year, well take a shot at it next year.

Every offseason is marked by changes, sometimes major, sometimes not. The plan is for major changes at wide receiver, cornerback and ideally linebacker and defensive end.

And there will be significant departures: Marion Barber, Brandon Meriweather, probably Roy Williams, and others through free agency or the usual "going in a different direction."

But the Bears were put together by Angelo and that is one change the veteran core does not want to see. It is not expected to happen and its not going to solve anything if you get rid of all the folks who put this team together, Briggs insisted.

This year was unfortunate for us all and even though we didnt get in the playoffs, we are a championship-caliber team and well get there.

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

After historically low turnover total in 2016, what can Bears do to get more takeaways?

Quintin Demps set a career high in interceptions last year by not doing anything different. And that’s the message he’s sending a defense that generated only 11 takeaways in 2016, tied for the lowest single-season total in NFL history. 

Demps went from picking off four passes in both 2013 with the Kansas City Chiefs and 2014 with the New York Giants to notching just one interception with the Houston Texans in 2015. In 2016, though, Demps intercepted six passes, broke up nine more and totaled 38 tackles. 

“Turnovers are like, it’s not something that you go get, it’s something you let come to you by doing your job first and then helping out,” Demps said. “And then you’d be surprised how they come to you by doing your job and being aware of when you can help somebody out. A lot of times when you get help is when you get picks and turnovers.”

The danger for a defense coming off a historically bad takeaway is sort of a whiplash effect, where there’s an over-emphasis on creating turnovers and not enough attention paid to, as Demps said, “doing your job.” There’s a fine line between being opportunistic and undisciplined.

“I tell my safeties all the time, we gotta tackle first,” Demps said. “Tackle first, don’t miss any tackles and then the picks are going to come. I promise you that.”

The Bears felt positively after signs of being more opportunistic as a defense during shorts-and-helmets practices in May and June, though if that was because of any real improvements or because the defense is usually ahead of the offense is hard to tell at this stage of the year. 

The offseason program was valuable for the Bears’ secondary in growing trust within a group that had — no pun intended — plenty of turnover after the 2016 season. The hope is that the offseason additions of Demps, Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and Eddie Jackson will solidify the secondary and lead to something better than last year’s historically-low turnover total. 

“We’re still trying to build something, but the actual, real building happens in training camp because I think then you start to see the group start to get formed and yo know who’s going to go with the one’s, who’s going to go with the two’s, stuff like that,” Amukamara said. “So I think that starts to get formed. But I think with a lot of guys now, I think what that creates is competition and guys trying their hardest to make the team.” 

Bears Talk Podcast: How will the offensive line fare in 2017?

sitton-bears_pod.jpg
USA TODAY

Bears Talk Podcast: How will the offensive line fare in 2017?

In this edition of the BearsTalk Podcast, JJ Stankevitz and Chris Boden discuss what should be a strength - the offensive line, and one member who has a lot on the line this season.

Plus, the guys pick some numbers for the 2017 season and predict whether or not the team or individuals will fall short or exceed them.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: