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Columnist
Time to give Briggs a shot inside
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 11/12/2009 12:02 AM

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You can holler all you want about Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo, but you're almost certainly wasting your breath.

The Bears are going to be bad the rest of the year, Angelo and Smith will still be here, and there's no fixing it now anyway.

So let's talk about something the Bears coaches can do to show they have a pulse, something they can do today to help the team this year and next year, and that's finally move linebacker Lance Briggs inside.

Simply put, Brian Urlacher is too big to veil.

Without Mike Brown up to help against the run, the Bears can't protect Urlacher anymore, and they can't hide him, especially after another serious injury.

But No. 54 can still run, so they ought to put him out there next season and let him fly. Let him run sideways, let him run backward, and most of all let him run full speed toward the quarterback.

After all the bumps and bruises, he's obviously not the same player who used to dominate games, but given some space to roam, away from the massive linemen and fullbacks who have him for lunch, he might be very effective.

Meanwhile, Briggs is your best defensive player, and this move seems inevitable.

Instead of a wasted 2009, the coaches can get something defensively out of it by giving Briggs half an NFL season to view the position.

There's no promise that the switch will work for Urlacher, but Briggs is much better suited at this point in their careers to play the middle, and no one else on the club has shown the ability to handle it.

And who knows, maybe Urlacher will become a fierce pass rusher who sends fear into the heart, and doubt into the head, of every opposing QB, traits the Bears haven't possessed for some time.

There's also no disgrace in moving to a spot where Urlacher can make plays again, and allow Briggs a position where he might be even better than he is now.

You have nothing to lose and it will at least make things interesting for Briggs the rest of the season, while Urlacher can watch from the sideline and ponder a new position.

As for fans yelling loud and clear, hoping for changes at the top, save your voice.

You'll have ample opportunity to scream at least eight more times this season.

New math

We keep hearing about how the Bears have played two horrendous games in their last three, but that's inaccurate.

It's three in their last three. The Bears were absolutely atrocious against Cleveland, and if the Browns had a single offensive player on their football team, the Bears would have lost that horrific game as well.

First and foremost

If you're wondering about the likes of Alex Rios and Mark Teahen, check out White Sox GM Ken Williams' past acquisitions of former first-round picks, like Matt Thornton, Gavin Floyd, Paul Konerko, Jayson Nix, Carlos Quentin and John Danks.

Not only were they all high selections but many of them struggled before maturing and finding success in Chicago.

That is certainly Williams' hope for Rios and Teahen.

Further review

Enough about expanding the use of replay in baseball.

Using it for home runs makes sense, but let's not go overboard because of some bad calls in the postseason.

Baseball has never had a good system for picking postseason umps and has often picked the wrong guys for the wrong reasons.

The easiest way to fix this would be to poll players, coaches and managers in September and ask them who the best umpires have been all season, and you'll get the guys best suited to work the October games.

Sure, you're still going to get the occasional mistake because they are, after all, somewhat human, but stop playing favorites because of age, experience, friendship or whatever and let those who really know pick the best.

Ivan Boldirev-ing

NHL GMs seem to have no interest in eliminating the trapezoid, a rule we've thought was dangerous from the minute it was put in place.

Ask any defenseman, or their coaches, and they'll tell you that allowing goalies to play the puck would save countless defensemen from getting run every night, especially now that a defensive partner can't hold up a hard-charging forward.

Surprise, surprise

ESPN.com's John Buccigross reports that, "(Martin) Havlat has been terrible, acting like he doesn't even want to be in Minnesota."

Shocking.

Havlat did that for two full seasons in Chicago before a contract year finally forced him to act like he was interested.

No wonder Havlat was so disliked in the room, and he's only lucky that when Marty Lapointe tore the shirt off him in front of his teammates two years ago that Lapointe didn't finish the job.

The quote

San Antonio's DeJuan Blair, when asked what player his style most resembles in the NBA: "Who you gonna compare me to? Everybody else got ACLs."

Best headline

Sportspickle.com: "Josh Freeman ties Buccaneers franchise record for most wins in Creamsicle jerseys."

And finally -

Miami Herald's Greg Cote: "Yankees-Phillies enjoyed strong TV ratings. Apparently the only people who missed the World Series were the umpires working it."

brozner@dailyherald.com