A Matter of Time

While the talk this week has been about Mike Singletary coming back to Chicago and when he'll be ready for a head-coaching job, his former teammate also has his eye on a promotion.

Ron Rivera is in his second year as defensive coordinator of the Bears. He has his unit is ranked third in the league in total defense and tied for first in points allowed per game.

Although he hasn't become a hot name in terms of being sought out for a head coaching position, if the Bears finish strong this season he could garner some interest in the off-season.

"I think an assistant coach always aspires to take the next step, whether it's to be a coordinator or head coach," Rivera said. "Yeah it'd be nice, but right now I'm in a great situation and great circumstances and really like where we are in terms of this team developing."

There is a good chance Rivera will remain the coordinator for at least one more season. Since he's just starting to be recognized for his work with the Bears defense it could take another year of solid work to move up the ranks.

Lovie Smith spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Rams and interviewed elsewhere before landing with the Bears. Mike Martz helped Smith's cause by promoting him to assistant head coach in 2003.

Considering Smith has been through the same journey Rivera hopes to one day take, his advice could come in handy.

"I think being around a guy like that really helps a young guy who aspires," Rivera said of Smith. "Having him around and having somebody to lean on has been excellent for me."

Rivera has many aspects that would be appealing to a franchise looking for someone to turn things around. He's known as a players coach, but has shown on more than one occasion he'll rip into his unit when need be.

The 43-year-old is a winner. He earned a Super Bowl ring as a backup linebacker with the Bears in 1985. He spent nine years in the organization as a player, appearing in 12 playoff games.

After four years away from football Rivera returned to the game as a defensive quality control coach with the Bears. After two years in the entry-level coaching position he got a chance to work for Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles. As Jim Johnson's linebackers coach, Rivera learned from the best defensive coordinators in the game.

When Smith got the job in Chicago Rivera wasn't his first choice. He wanted Rod Marinelli, but couldn't get permission to hire him from the Buccaneers.

Rivera then got the call to return to where his NFL career began. It appears he's on track to leave town again in the near future, but this time with his own team to run.

"Ron is a bright guy, he's a good leader and Ron is just one of those guys that's a hard worker," Singletary said. "Sure I do (believe it's only a matter of time before he gets a head coaching job)."


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