By Adam Hoge-
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (CBS) — While the Bears’ offense is undergoing a major overhaul with new head coach Marc Trestman, there is one guy on the other side of the ball who taking on the brunt of change on a unit that otherwise is staying mostly the same.
While the scheme and terminology on defense hasn’t changed much since Mel Tucker took over the Bears’ defense, Briggs has taken on more responsibilities and is facing more pressure than ever before.
“It’s different,” the linebacker said Friday. “Being in this system for a long time, you’re now told to change and do things a different way. It just takes time.”
But the biggest adjustments for Briggs haven’t come as a result of Lovie Smith leaving. They’ve come as a result of Brian Urlacher leaving.
“It’s not easy. I haven’t’ called plays since college,” Briggs said.
It’s not only Briggs’ job to call the plays, but he also has to recognize every single offensive alignment and make the proper checks. It’s a job he volunteered to do, but one he’s still getting used to.
“I accept it,” he said. “I was real comfortable in my role before, very comfortable. So now I’m getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
But getting too comfortable was one of the reasons why general manager Phil Emery had to shake up the coaching staff. The change is forcing players like Briggs to do more than simply get through the three-week training camp. Instead, he has to be engaged on every single rep of practice, because if he’s not, the entire defense suffers.
That happened once during Friday’s first practice of camp when Briggs missed the play call coming into his headset because he was still talking to his teammates about the play before. As a result, he called out a random play.
“Everybody looked at me with a puzzled look,” Briggs said. “I had to eat it. I had to eat that one. Everybody was going to make fun of me and that’s fine. You move on.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the defense is getting used to a new voice that isn’t Brian Urlacher.
“They’re just such different people,” safety Chris Conte said. “Brian is the type of guy who would know the play before it was even going to happen. There’s not too many people like Brian Urlacher. Lance is doing a great job and he’s getting there, but yeah, it’s just Brian was a special guy so it’s hard to replace that, but Lance is doing a great job.”
As Briggs said, it just takes time.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.