By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) — Lance Briggs was officially ruled out against the Browns Friday, but all signs point to the Bears linebacker returning against the Eagles next week.
“I’d be optimistic, yes. I’d be much more optimistic that that could happen,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said when asked if Briggs could return for the Eagles game. “He got more work today and we’ll see how he is the first of the week, but it raises our optimism certainly.”
Briggs has missed six games since fracturing a bone in his shoulder Oct. 20 against the Redskins. Without him, the Bears’ run defense has been a mess, falling to dead last in the league by allowing 157.0 rushing yards per game. Before Briggs got hurt, the Bears’ rushing defense ranked 12th in the NFL and was only allowing 102.0 rushing yards per game.
Briggs went through two practices this week on a limited basis, which was the same thing quarterback Jay Cutler did last week before being cleared in full this week.
Return To Cleveland
Sunday’s game in Cleveland will mark the fourth stop on Marc Trestman’s reunion tour with franchises he previously coached for.
Trestman was the quarterbacks coach for the Browns in 1988 and the offensive coordinator in 1989, which reunited him with quarterback Bernie Kosar who he had previously coached at the University of Miami.
“(Kosar) was starting to evolve in ’85, ’86 and ’87. He took the team to the playoffs all three years,” Trestman said. “He had probably the lowest interception ratio — he did as good a job of protecting the football as anybody in the league at that time. And because he did, he went to the playoffs each and every year for five years to my recollection.”
Protecting the football is what Trestman has preached to his quarterbacks and will certainly be a point of emphasis Sunday as Jay Cutler returns to the field. Cutler has eight interceptions and one fumble in eight games this year while backup Josh McCown has only one interception and zero fumbles lost in seven games.
As for Trestman’s return to Cleveland, his promotion in 1989 was his first chance to be an offensive coordinator in the NFL, but it only lasted one season despite Kosar throwing for 3,533 yards and 18 TDs and the Browns reaching the AFC Championship Game. The Browns had changed head coaches that year — going from Marty Schottenheimer to Bud Carson — and Trestman and Carson didn’t exactly get along.
“The second year, new coaches, dealt with a lot of adversity, but we were able continue to fight through it and get to the AFC Championship Game,” Trestman said. “It was a great group of guys. I really enjoyed Cleveland. I enjoyed working there, coaching there. It was a great experience.”
Including the preseason, the Bears have visited Oakland, Detroit and Minnesota this season, all of which were previous coaching stops for Trestman. The Bears beat the Raiders in the preseason, but lost in Detroit and Minneapolis.
Better Than 4-9?
The Browns have lost four games in a row and seven of eight overall, but Trestman gave a pretty detailed explanation for why he thinks they are a better team than their record suggests.
“No. 1, offensively they’ve done exceptionally well the last few weeks. Jason (Campbell) has thrown for about 350 yards the last few weeks. They’ve rushed for nearly 100 yards in each game. They’ve made big plays. They’re one of the top 10 teams in the league defensively, No. 5 against the run. They’re thick up front. They’re good tacklers. They play well on the perimeter. They’re doing a lot of things well right now on both sides of the ball and as (Browns head coach Rod Chudzinski) said earlier in the week, they feel like they can play with anybody and that’s certainly case when you look at the tape.”
For the second week in a row, weather could be a factor for the Bears.
Sunday’s forecast in Cleveland calls for a high temperature of 26 degrees, but also a 40 percent chance of snow. Wind will also be an issue as the current forecast is for a west wind at 17 mph with gusts up to 28 mph.
Perhaps the bigger issue could be getting to Cleveland as Winter Storm Electra will move through the area Saturday and dump two to four inches of snow.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.