Through happenstance or by design, Lance Briggs has become the unofficial spokesman for the Bears' 19th-ranked defense.
He's the player that is trotted out behind the podium at Halas Hall every Thursday at noon to take questions at large on the defense, lately queries about why the Bears can't stop the pass, can't rush the quarterback and now all of a sudden can't stop the run.
For weeks, Briggs has maintained that the unit can be dominant and great again with one caveat--when it wants to be. So the question moving into Week 12, and on the heels of a 37-3 drubbing Sunday at Lambeau Field, is when the Bears will desire to be good again.
"I think it's tough," he said. "We know what we have been, I know what we can be and the thing about it is we're fighting for something right now and that's what we have to do. We've been saying it for a long time, I said this defense will play great football when we decide. Our problems are not from our coaching, it's not from the technique, it's not from the defense. It is within ourselves and that's something that we have to solve within our own selves, within our group."
So the natural question is, when will the defense feel like turning it on?
"If we're not playing up to the standard that we're supposed to be playing [at], then we haven't gotten there yet,'' Briggs said. "I can't answer that question for you because obviously it's an in-house problem. That's something that we have to solve amongst ourselves."
Briggs then fielded some broader questions about players struggling to meet expectations after landing big contracts, and the preparation that was put into the season. A portion of the Q&A:
IS A DANGER OF BIG CONTRACTS THAT PLAYERS WILL BECOME SATISFIED?
LB: Basically you're saying that you get some money so you don't play as hard as you did before you got the contract.
DOES THAT HAPPEN?
LB: I've heard it happens. I can only speak for myself. I've always played the game the same way. Been no changes, there's never going to be a change. I've played with the guys here for a long time and there's no way you can convince me that these guys are playing satisfied. Until I've lived it with my own eyes, there's no way that I would say that. These guys, if you even look at the fourth quarter of the last game, getting beat 37-3, there's guys that are still fighting to get to that ball-carrier to make some stops. So no. I think poor execution, poor play, yes. But satisfied -- not this group.
DID GUYS WHO LANDED BIG DEALS PREPARE PROPERLY FOR THE SEASON? (NOTE: BRIGGS MISSED A $250,000 WORKOUT BONUS IN HIS CONTRACT FOR SKIPPING A GOOD PORTION OF THE VOLUNTARY OFFSEASON PROGRAM)
LB: I think guys have been here more this year than most any other years. We had great attendance in the offseason, or OTAs and off-field workouts. I was the guy that wasn't there for the third or fourth year in a row. So if you're going to point the finger at anybody, it should be me. As far as the team goes, everyone had great attendance. Everybody was here in the offseason doing the things that need to be done, preparing. Like I said, the blueprint and all that stuff was set for us, and it's on us whether we execute or not.
WHEN YOU SAY YOU CAN BE A GREAT DEFENSE WHEN YOU WANT TO BE, THAT SOUNDS LIKE A DESIRE/ATTITUDE PROBLEM?
LB: I honestly if we want it bad enough then people won't be scoring 37 points on us. It's a stick right in your pride. It's a stick right into my pride, I know that much, when teams run the ball at will, when they throw the ball all over us. It's not cute. It's not fun to see yourself on somebody else's highlight film. So at some point we're going to have to grab ourselves and do something about it, or continue to be on other peoples' highlights.