We’re heading into the dog days of the offseason, counting the days until the Chicago Bears 2014 season kicks off. Thanks to Bear Goggles On contributor and the fine editor of Blackhawk Up Keith Schultz’s suggestion, we’re going to do a Top 100 list of the all time Chicago Bears. It’s a fun way to pass the time and take a stroll down memory lane.
The Bears drafted Ron Rivera in the 2nd round of the 1984 draft after he was named a consensus All-American at California. It took Rivera a few years to earn a spot in the Bears starting lineup, but the Bears had Otis Wilson and Wilbur Marshall at OLB so that is no knock on Rivera.
In 1987 after Otis suffered an injury Rivera moved into the starting lineup for 5 games and played well enough to secure a starting position in 1988 with both Otis & Wilbur gone. Rivera was a solid, well-rounded linebacker for the Bears excelling in both pass coverage and run support. He kept the starting linebacker position halfway through the ’91 season and totaled 8 interceptions and 7.5 sacks. Rivera was a valuable backup and special teams player for the first and last few years with the Bears and a solid starter in between, but his time with the Bears wasn’t done after his playing career ended after the ’92 season.
Rivera became the Bears defensive coordinator in 2004 and held that position for three seasons. The Bears defense improved immediately under Rivera and his aggressive blitzing scheme brought back memories of Buddy Ryan. The Bears defense improved from 22nd to 13th in Rivera’s first season and then finished 1st overall in points allowed in 2005 and 3rd overall in 2006 when the Bears made the Super Bowl behind their dominant defense. The Bears decided to replace Rivera as defensive coordinator in 2007 with Bob Babich and the Bears defense fell to 16th in the league in points allowed the next season.
Rivera was a candidate for multiple head coaching jobs in 2007, he interviewed with Arizona, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Miami but was passed over for all of them and ended up as the Chargers linebacker coach. Eventually Rivera earned a head coaching job with the Panthers where he still holds the job and was named NFL coach of the year in 2013.
What do you think of the ranking? Too high? Too low? I guess you’ll have to check back to see who finished ahead of him to judge for yourself. We’ll be counting down a different person each day as we inch our way to the September 7th season opener.