Rivera accomplished a great deal coaching Philadelphia's linebackers. He coached under the aggressive blitzing style of Jimmy Johnson. His pedigree is interesting in that he played under Bear coaches Ryan and Tobin, and coached under Johnson and Wannstedt. Equally as impressive are the results Rivera achieved given the raw talent he was asked to groom.
Ron Rivera took a relatively unheralded NFL Scouting Combine workout warrior in Jeremiah Trotter (3rd round pick from Stephen F. Austin in 1998), and molded him into one of the top middle linebackers in football. Trotter eventually left for big dollars to the Washington Redskins. This past offseason, the Eagles made what seemed like an inconsequential deal in picking up Mark Simoneau for a fourth round pick from the Atlanta Falcons.
Draftniks will recall the name Mark Simoneau from the class of 2000. A graduate of Kansas State, Simoneau showed very well at the combine, with the best combination of speed and strength at linebacker that year outside of Brian Urlacher. His drawback? He's barely 6 feet tall. Simoneau was drafted by Atlanta in the 3rd round, and battled injuries as well as the adjustment to the 3-4 alignment. In his first season as an Eagle, and under the wing of Ron Rivera, Simoneau racked up 149 tackles. He was a force in the middle of Philadelphia's defense.
It's still early in the process of hiring assistant coaches for the Bears, but a trend has emerged. Lovie Smith (Head Coach), Ron Rivera (Defensive Coordinator) and Bob Babich (Linebackers Coach) have all coached linebackers. With Brian Urlacher firmly established as the Bears' marquee player for years to come, should this be any surprise? What better way to ensure the richest player investment in the history of the franchise continues to pay dividends? Maybe Jerry Angelo really does know what he's doing.