Briggs: “We lost to a team we shouldn’t have”

Chicago Bears veteran defenders Lance Briggs and Jared Allen discuss the Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills, growing old as players, off-field decisions and much more.

The Chicago Bears were seven-point favorites heading into the Week 1 contest against the Buffalo Bills, yet walked away the loser after a 23-20 defeat at Soldier Field.

The defense was gashed for nearly 200 yards on the ground, with plenty of blame to pass around. Linebacker Lance Briggs was on the field for both of Buffalo’s big, game-changing runs – a 47-yarder by Anthony Dixon before the half and 38-yarder by Fred Jackson in overtime – and today took blame for his role in a messy loss.

“Two big runs. Two runs stick out,” Briggs said. “The one in the second quarter, that was my fault. I jumped out of my gap. I played the quarterback when I should have been in the A gap, and it ended up being [47] yards. And the one in overtime.

“I saw the read-option. We were in an eight-man front. I should have just stayed in my gap. I popped out to go get the quarterback, and left that gap wide open. That’s a mistake that I don’t normally make. And I won’t moving forward.”

On Buffalo QB E.J. Manuel’s first-quarter touchdown run, both Briggs and defensive end Jared Allen bit hard on the play-fake, which left a truck-sized lane off the corner.

“It really comes down to being disciplined, to being gap-sound and doing your job. Everybody’s got a job to do and when you try to do extra is when you get caught,” Allen said. “Sometimes the best thing to do is when you’re backside is you have to remain backside and that just comes down to your trust. You’ve got to be in your gap. You really have to slow down and let things develop, and then make sure you have your job done.

“The read-option, it’s tedious, it really is and it looks flashy on TV but if you do your job, day in and time and time and time again, you’re going to make more plays than not.”

It was announced by the NFL today that the Bears are the oldest team in the league, with 16 players age 30 or older. Yet Allen, who is 32, doesn’t believe age affects production.

“It’s a mindset,” Allen said. “Honestly, I feel like I’m 18. I feel better this year than I felt last year. Body feels great, strong. I feel more explosive this year than I was last season as far as first-step explosiveness.

“Honestly I think the perception of age is caught up in what people say is a football player’s lifespan. We’re in such a contact sport, a violent sport, that the lifespan is typically short, so when guys get longer in the years people go, ‘oh the guy’s getting older.’ Snaps wear on you but if we were a quarterback people don’t talk about age. So as a competitor we don’t look at that, we come in and say we’ve got to do x, y and z to get ready, and the day I can’t do x, y and z to get ready, trust me when I tell you I will be the first one to leave because I’m not going to sit up here and be the reason my team loses.”

Age has been of particular concern with Briggs, who was reportedly out until 4 a.m. Saturday morning. Yet Briggs said his training regimen is what keeps him young.

“I don’t think you know what I do every day,” said Briggs. “I don’t think you have any idea. I’m here early. Every day that I’m here, I get a lot of treatment on my body. I’m here. I work out in the middle of the day. Even though this is not necessarily anybody’s business, but I’m going to tell you. After practice, I’m getting treatment and I do an additional workout after I leave this building to get my body ready. So that’s … people don’t know that.”

When asked if it bothered him that people have questioned his commitment this season, Briggs responded: “No, doesn’t bother me at all.”

Of much bigger concern than Briggs’ off-field habits is the fact the Bears are 0-1 and will head on the road to face one of the toughest teams in the league, the San Francisco 49ers, on Sunday night.

“We’ve only played one game,” said Briggs. “I told [coordinator] Mel [Tucker] yesterday on my day off, I’m like, ‘Man, you know, I once came out in our first game and had 36 loafs and one tackle against Atlanta, and got some of the same criticism and went on to have a regular year.’ I’m not like everybody else. I don’t hit the panic button. For us, it’s time for us to focus on beating the 49ers.

“We lost to a team we really shouldn’t have. This week is about proving people wrong.”

Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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