Updated: December 11, 2013 10:56AM
Help is on the way for the defense, but it’s not coming fast enough.
Lance Briggs’ fractured left shoulder was evaluated by team doctors Tuesday, but he wasn’t cleared to play, the linebacker told the Sun-Times.
“I have to be able to defend myself on the football field,” he said. “If I can’t do that, then they won’t clear me.”
Briggs wouldn’t rule out playing Sunday in Cleveland, but he said his next evaluation will come in “another couple days,” which makes his participation seem unlikely. He hopes to return before the end of the year, at least.
“The thing about it is, I understand why I haven’t been cleared,” said Briggs, who was promoting Best Buy’s Ultimate Gamer Showdown video game tournament in Old Town. “Being a linebacker on the field, it’s violent. You have to tackle. You have to take on a lot of people. If at any point you deal with the shoulder, which you use all the time, you risk setting yourself back.”
Losing Briggs on Oct. 20 against the Redskins has proven to be far more damaging than the loss of Jay Cutler.
In the six games without Briggs — who was in a sling for 3 ½ weeks and has been rehabbing since —the Bears have allowed an astounding 1,220 rushing yards on 193 carries.
That pace, over 16 games, would make the Bears the worst rushing defense of all time.
(You can look it up: the 1978 Buffalo Bills allowed 3,228 yards; the Bears’ last six games, stretched over 16, would be 3,253.)
“You gotta tackle,” Briggs said. “You gotta get guys down. When your opportunity comes, you have to make plays.”
The Bears are last in the league allowed 157 rushing yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry.
On Monday night, the Cowboys totaled 198 rushing yards (7.1 yards per carry).
“The way I see it is, they ran for too much,” linebacker Jon Bostic said. “They got too many yards and stuff that at certain times they shouldn’t have — or we weren’t making the plays when we were there. We’ve got to get better.’’
“The 45 points, you love to see that,” said Briggs of the Dallas win. “The 27 points, not so much.”
He called being out “a reality check,” and said he’s learned to love, and hate, coaching.
“To be able to teach and see the benefits of a player that’s getting your coaching, getting your teaching, is rewarding,” he said. “It’s nice to see guys out there making plays.
“But on the flip side, then, when they’re not making plays, you start kicking yourself. ‘What could I have done to help them play better?’ ”
The linebackers earned a -11.5 grade against the run Monday, according to Pro Football Focus. Rookie Khaseem Greene, Briggs’ replacement, played probably his worst game.
“We’re seeing the results some plays,” Bostic said. “But not every play. It’s being consistent every play.”
The Cowboys converted 5 of 10 third downs.
“We talk about our weakness, just amongst ourselves, is getting off the field on third down,” defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff said. “I thought we did a better job of that.”
Bostic said “you’re always going to be frustrated” after such a showing.
“It’s got to be every time,” he said. “We can’t be [good on] first and second down and then we’re not doing what we need to do on third down.”
Briggs wants to be on the field.
“For us, man, our playoffs have already begun,” he said. “We just need to win and win and win.”
He insisted that the Bears can “win, with or without me.”
The former is more likely, but he’s got to come back first.
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “It’s not up to me; it’s up to the doctors.”