Chicago Sun-Times

Urlacher thinks Bears are best

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Losing two of three games to the Green Bay Packers last season, including a 21-14 loss in the NFC Championship Game, hasn't changed Brian Urlacher's opinion of which team is tops in the NFC.

"I think we're the best team in our conference," Urlacher said while speaking to elementary school students in Albuquerque, N.M., according to the Albuquerque Journal. "I know we're not the Super Bowl champs like the Green Bay Packers. ... We want to be the best in our conference and to be there, we've got to go through Green Bay."

Urlacher said the NFL lockout isn't keeping him from following his normal offseason routine.

"It's a little longer, that's all," Urlacher told the paper. "Longer than I'd like it to be. I'm still working out hard -- just not with my teammates. That's the biggest difference. I'm doing the same program I would be if I were at the facility."

The former University of New Mexico standout appeared at the school near his hometown of Lovington to promote the NFL's "Fuel Up To Play 60" program, which promotes a healthier lifestyle for kids.

The seven-time Pro Bowl performer did not want to discuss issues surrounding the league's current labor stoppage.

"I'm not going to get into it," Urlacher said. "I want to play football. I know everyone else wants to play football. Hopefully we can make that happen soon."

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I admire the steady, confident approach that Lovie has fostered in Chicago, but let's be honest. The Bears right now can't stop the Packers offense consistently, and our offensive line will get Cutler killed without dramatic improvement.

If the latest developments in the lockout (NFLTA asked for a new proposal at mediation today) can get it resolved, the Bears have a chance to put it together, and get back in the hunt quickly. We have talent at some key positions, some exciting young players in Carimi and Paea that can help in areas of dire need. But we need free agency, not only to rebuild the depth of our roster, but to sort out who we are going to bring back, and who we let go.

Right now, we don't have a strong-side linebacker on the roster, we don't have a determined starter across from Tillman, and we are awfully thin at DT. Safety is very up in the air with all the free agents, and Harris was nothing to write home about, even though he did make some splash plays. At DE, Peppers and Izzy are solid, but there is only Wootton behind them. There is a lot of work to do to even get enough bodies to field a defensive squad.

On offense, QB is as set as it is going to get. Forte, Taylor, and Unga will be our trio for 2011, barring an UDFA coming in. We need a big receiver, or at least one who can run a slant without punking out, so we can move Knox and Hester into the slot, and let Bennett and the new guy work the outside. We need interior line improvement in the worst way, and we don't have a center on the roster outside of Edwin Williams. Our guards were manhandled all last year, and now we have Suh and Fairley twice a year, not to mention the Packers DL. Manumaleuna was a big waste of money in 2010, and he got more surgery this offseason, so we are thin at TE with just Olsen and Davis. Carimi, Webb, Omiyale, and Williams is not a great group, although I think Carimi will be a solid LT. Someone needs to step up on the right side.

This team should be better after making it to the title game, but we have a lot of unanswered questions, like every offseason. I don't know how they do it, but somehow Lovie manages to get a lot out of the pig-slop he has for a bottom half of a roster, and maybe that's due to Toub winning 2 games at least per year with special teams play. Which reminds me, we don't have a punter yet.

The sooner they can get back to football, the better it will be for the Bears to have a shot at the Packers. The coaches have some talent to work with, but there needs to be a lot of supplemental players to make it go.

Brian Urlacher is right, and has every right to say what he said. If Jay Cutler wouldn't have had the knee injury, Chicago probably beats Green Bay in the NFC championship game, and I see no reason why they wouldn't have took out the Steelers in the big game either. Heck, had Caleb Hanie gotten reps as a #2 instead of scout team reps as a #3 heading into the playoffs, Chicago probably beats Green Bay.

The injury to Cutler just came at a bad time, but this year he's healthy and has a year in Martz's scheme, add on the fact Chicago should get better play from the tackle position, and this offense should only get better. As far as Hanie, that fell on the coaching staff, putting Collins ahead of Hanie was a horrible player evaluation of the quarterback position and ultimately cost the Bears a trip to the big dance. Hanie should have been the #2 after the Panthers game earlier in the season. I mean, I get why the Bears brought in Collins last summer, the guy had experience in Martz's scheme and the team as a whole was learning the offense, Hanie missed reps due to his injury last summer so they needed a guy like Collins for insurance. Where Chicago messed up was during the season when they stuck with Collins as the backup even though he came in and stunk up the joint, again, that move cost Chicago.

Like the offensive line, the defense can get a lot better if some young players step up, namely defensive tackle Henery Melton, defensive end Corey Wootton, and safety Major Wright. If these 3 young players can take that next step, this defense is only gonna get better and Urlacher knows that GO BEARS!!

And remember children, as you grow older you will face challenges in life. It is important that you learn from my quarterback Jay Cutler and never ever quit on people who are depending on you. Because once you quit you will always be a quitter. We will be the best team in the NFC north right up until the next game that our QB quits on us again.

The Bear may be the best, but losing two out of three to Green Bay makes such an assertion at least suspect. They did win the division but blew two chances to beat Green Bay later on. I hope they prove they are in fact "the Best" next season.

ahhhh.....ahahhaha waht a Grate day to be KING!!!!!!!

urlackere sauys teh bears qre te best???? hahahahah wah ta fool....hahaha my precius PACKERS are teh best teh ywon eth superbowel ans aron rogers is just sooo dreammyy!! mmm yummm!! : )

oh looks at kevin BUMsted agreeng with urlacker...hahaha wah ta LOOSER. hahaha look atyo u kevin chhering for teh team and wanting them too do good....hahahah i wills never unsdertand why you do taht....makes no sense too mmee!

butyo ghuys now me old crap-ton...jsut triyn gto pb epsoatve...

ps doo doo do doo ood odo ogo pack go! do dood ododdod odo go pack go! ahhhh...

Hehehe... Crap-ton's comments say a lot more about Crap-ton that (s)he probably wants us to know.

"I admire the steady, confident approach that Lovie has fostered in Chicago, but let's be honest. The Bears right now can't stop the Packers offense consistently..."

Oh yeah? And exactly who, pray tell, was able to stop the Green Bay offense consistently? Pittsburgh looked downright foolish against them in the Super Bowl. If anything, the Bears defense was in fact the one unit capable of pulling the plug on the Packers. Disagree? Well I look forward to your counter argument, sir.

If the Bears have a problem on defense it is the secondary Peppers, Izzy, Wooton give they a solid mix at end, the new kid up helps the middle and yes they need help at DT still but they are not dying there. But Tillman is heading towards the end of his career and all his physical play is a blessing and a curse for him, they don't have alegit number 2 corner, but safety could be a problem. Harris is locked into his position not so much because of skill but because of his brain, Manning is a FA and it would be a mistake to let him go. It took him forever to develop and have a breakout year no thanks in large part to the Bears insisting he was a FS, he is really a SS who can cover well for a SS. You finally develop this guy and they may let him walk, so all those years of work and you finally get something and then boom he he could be gone. He was the Bears best player in the backfield last year and improved on every aspect of his game. With him gone that leaves Wright who has not been able to stay healthy and has not been on the field much and the new kid who could not cover a bus stop on an abandoned street corner. If Harris an aging player goes down or Wright you would basically be up the creek. The NFC is currently loaded with good recievers and TE's, not to mention Peterson, and the Bears are thinking of letting Manning walk? It does not help your cause when it takes you a long time to develop your players, don't make it worse by letting the ones you do develop walk.

As for Cutler winning that game if had stayed healthy I am not so sure. One problem that I saw with Martz last year is his terrible Habit of going for the home run when the Bears were blitzed. Part of his system is the more pressure a team puts on you the more you try and kill them with a big play. And that works great when it works, but that don't work very often. And when you have a secondary like GB it will almost never work. Watch what Martz calls when teams are blitzing, he goes for the 7 step deep drop for a big gain, he hopes the QB and reciever have enough time to execute the play. The more teams attack the more he tries to hurt them with the big pass. He does not care how bad the O-Line is he figures if he connects they will backoff. When he does not go for the big play on a blitz Cutler completes about 60 percent of his passes, when he does go for the big play Cutler had a 5td to 6 int ratio. That's as bad as it gets, two of those picks came on hits as he was still releasing the ball. GB is one of the better blitzing teams around you don't need to try and kill them with the big play when the Blitz, just complete a pass for a gain, do it enough and they will backoff, same with Pit.

Watch the first Seattle game, you will see the Bears do it a few times, a couple of times they did it in the worst possible situation, like in their own endzone. He also did it in the second GB game, the Giants game and the Dallas game.

I don't disagree that we did better than most in slowing down GB's offense, but when push comes to shove, we can't claim to be better than them when they beat us 2 out of 3 times. The time we did beat them, it was largely due to Peppers domination leading to 17 penalties in the game. When the Packers drop back and throw the ball, we don't have an answer. Quick slants and skinny posts kill us all day long, and Rodgers is fantastic at throwing those routes.

We won by smoke and mirrors, forcing them to make mistakes. We can't expect to beat them that way every time. If we can't make significant improvements on both sides of the ball, especially in the trenches, we will not be better than the Lions, let alone the Packers. We have to be able to flash the slant lanes in the passing game, which means we have to be able to get out of the mug-up front the Bears show all the time. That means the front 4 have to be able to win their matchups and pressure the QB, AND stop the run without help from the LBs.

Until we can slow them down for 4 quarters, and turn in a dominating performance on either side of the ball, we are not better than them. Better than most at not getting killed is not the same thing. That's like being the prettiest bearded lady in the circus....You still have a beard...

I gotta agree letting Danieal Manning go might not be in the Bears best interest, the guy adds great depth at safety and the nickle, and is one of the leagues better kick-off return specialist. I think at kick-off return and overall depth is where the Bears are gonna feel Manning's loss the most. Mannings best position is the nickle, thats where the Bears should have kept him, Manning is a solid strong safety, but nothing special for the position. Manning's not the up in the box run stuffer you'd like at SS, I remember watching the guy miss a lot of tackles. Yeah the guy has coverage skills, but they'd be better utilized as a nickleback, not as a strong safety.

Like I said above, Chicago needs some of their young prospects to step up on defense, one of them players being 2nd year safety Major Wright. Everybody on this board knew last year Wright's best position was at strong safety, I think the Bears know this also. The drafting of Chris Conte also proves this, the Bears see Conte as a free safety, I look for Conte to backup Chris Harris at free safety this season. Major Wright will be your strong safety, and an upgrade over Manning. Wright is your prototypical strong safety. Coming out of collge last year Wright was known as a linebacker in a safeties body and was known for his physical play, and like Manning, has enough coverage skills for the strong safety position. But unlike Manning, Wright is a much better run stopper and will be much more effective up in the box. He'll be an upgrade at strong safety. The only thing stopping Wright will be durability, he needs to stay healthy. I think the kid is gonna be a heck of a strong safety GO BEARS!!

Joe, I was only addressing that line in your first post where you said that the Bears couldn't stop the Packers offense consistently. I think our defense has played very, very well against them but when comparing both teams as a whole, yeah, they give us problems.

I am not sure that I agree that Wright is an upgrade over Manning at strong safety. I think Manning, given a chance to stay at that position, and play it long term, could be among the better SS in the league. I am not sure we can confidently say that about Wright. He seems a little more physical as far as hitting, but he is slower, less athletic, but has an advantage in recognition skills. Can Wright run with Finley down the seam? We don't know that. But we do know that Manning can run with anyone down the seam, so that makes a difference in coverage. Manning has also become a very sure tackler, and while he doesn't deliver the knockout hits very often, he doesn't miss much either (any more). I think Manning is way better as a strong safety than he was as a nickel corner, and he was probably the best player in the secondary in 2010.

I agree that we need Wright to step up, but I don't know that he is necessarily better than Manning when and if he does. If they don't re-sign Manning, we will be in trouble, because Harris is really a SS, and so is Wright. Wright would be better than Harris at the free, but they prefer a smarter player calling the coverages. Wright was advertised as a smart player, so theoretically he can do it, but will it work in game situations? Conte is at least 1-2 years away from contributing, so we are going to need someone other than Steltz as a backup that can step in. Manning and Wright is the best possible combination for us this year, since Harris really was out of position a lot last season, and took a ton of bad angles, and Manning had to bail him out with this athleticism. I think he is the defensive version of Chester Taylor, where he was helpful, but nowhere near as good as advertised. Manning, Wright, Harris, and Steltz will probably be our 4 active on game day, and Conte will be on the 53 man, but not active unless he shows enough to bump Steltz from the roster for special teams.

The Packers give everybody problems, Mike, which is why Bear victories over them are so sweet. I concur with the kudos to Manning. The Bears should definitely keep him. Wright looks good, but Manning has developed into a solid defender, and his kick-off returns speak for themselves.

Joe, I think the bottom line with the secondary this year was Julius Peppers, he made the entire secondary look better. I mean Harris, Tillman, and D.J Moore all had 4 or more picks, that all falls back on what Peppers did up front.

As far as the best player in the secondary, that was Charles Tillman. Tillman was 3rd in tackles (82) and had 5 ints to tie for the team lead with Chris Harris.

Now don't get me wrong, I like Danieal Manning, and I think the team should resign him, I just think the ceiling is much higher for Wright, I think Manning is as good as he's every gonna get. You gotta figure Wright was only a rookie, and he had injury problems, and like you said, Wright might have an advantage in recognition skills, which will make all the difference in run support, which is key for a strong safety. I just think Wright can be a much more effective player from that position, also, Wright does have range. Scouts liked his speed and his ability to cover the deep half coming out of Flordia. If Wright can stay healthy, and bring his physicality to the box in run support, I don't think you'll have a corner (Tillman) lead the secondary in tackles like the Bears did this year. It will be interesting to see where everyone lines up, I still say Harris will remain at free safety and Wright/Manning will be your strong. GO BEARS!!

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on May 17, 2011 10:27 AM.

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