BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – The influence of San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera on the Bears’ roster is undeniable.
Perrenial Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs even referenced Rivera, who was Lovie Smith's defense coordinator from 2004-06, last December while attempting to explain why the Bears have missed the playoffs for three consecutive seasons.
"You think about a Ron Rivera, you think about a lot of these guys that were here," Briggs said at the time.
Nick Roach wasn't with the Bears in 2006, but the former undrafted free agent out of Northwestern crossed paths with Rivera while on San Diego's practice squad in 2007. Upon initially joining the Chargers' staff, Rivera coached inside linebackers, the position Roach played in San Diego's 3-4 defense.
"I took a lot from him because he was my first NFL position coach," Roach said Thursday. "I still remember those time because it was my first real experience. He was a really positive guy to be around. Everybody that played for Ron, loved to play for him because he was so positive and really didn't come down hard on guys, when it wasn't necessary."
Rivera's ability to relate the players stems from his credibility factor in the meeting room, according to Roach. It's not imperative that an NFL coach be a former player, but sometimes it helps.
"He was intense and guys really respected him so he didn't really have to flex his power," Roach said.
But when somebody like Rivera does flex his power, players generally tend to listen.