PHOENIX – It’s a new era for the Bears with Halas Hall now in the hands of seasoned coach John Fox and first-year general manager Ryan Pace. But a coveted member of the old guard still would like to play.
“Oh yeah,” linebacker Lance Briggs said Wednesday at an event for the 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel.
Time will tell if that happens with the Bears. The franchise has new decision-makers deciding their path for 2015 and beyond.
Briggs hasn’t talked to Fox “since years ago,” he said. But he’s completely on board with Fox’s arrival –- excited even, despite his own uncertainty.
“John, I think, he’s the right man for the job,” Briggs said. “I’ve seen John over the years. He’s had a lot of success in the NFL. He understands the NFL. He’s a football coach.”
And former coach Marc Trestman?
“Some things worked. Some things don’t,” Briggs said. “Marc is a good man. I wish him all the success over in Baltimore. It just was what it was.”
A change in defensive scheme looks in the works for the Bears. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio ran a 3-4 defense with San Francisco 49ers. Clint Hurtt, a defensive line assistant last year, also has shifted to outside linebackers.
But Briggs, a seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker, believes he can transcend scheme. The finer nuisances of Fox’s and Fangio’s scheme could help as far as his assimilation.
“I can play in a 3-4,” said Briggs, one of the best linebackers in team history. “It depends on the way that it’s run. There’s guys that run it as a two-gap system 3-4 and there’s guys that run it as a single-gap system 3-4.”
At 34 years old, Briggs’ once-revered durability is a question mark. He has played only in 17 games over the past two seasons.
It was a groin injury in Week 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers –- Briggs described it as “damaged” –- that ended his 2014 season.
“When I walked off right before half,” Briggs said, “[the team doctors] told me you’re going to be down for about six weeks of inactivity before you can get back out and start running.”
All that said, Briggs is healthy now. His groin has healed and so have his ribs, another injury that kept him off the field during the 2014 season. He’s been working out twice a day in Arizona.
The plan, of course, is to keep playing. He’d love to speak to Fox and Pace some day.
“It’d be nice,” Briggs said. “But as much as I don’t know, I’m excited no matter avenue that I go. If I get to play football, it’s going to be great. That’s priority No. 1.
“But if I don’t, there’s plenty of avenues for me afterwards. There’s plenty of things that I want to do.”
On Wednesday, that included representing the Bears and the City of Chicago at a draft event. Briggs said he’s proud of his 12 years in Chicago during a short speech.
But the uncertainty for his future – will he or won’t he play again? – is definitely rife with new emotions.
“It’s uncharted territory,” he said. “I’m embracing it however it comes, preparing for life after football and I’m preparing to play football again at the same time.”