Brian Urlacher has been many things in his 10 seasons with the Bears. He has been the face of the franchise, a defensive MVP, a media conundrum, a rookie of the year, a probowler, and recently the Bear who growled at Gale Sayers. His off the field Paris Hiltonish escapades have amused and frustrated many a Bears fan. Some feel he is a lock for the HOF while others take a more pragmatic view and say, "We'll wait and see." But there is no doubt in my mind he is one of the all time Bear greats and I think he could prove to be a huge difference to the team this season. I'll make my case after the jump.
Patrick Kirwan of NFL.com had this to say;
Brian Urlacher, MLB, Bears: He may not hold up to comparisons with the Ravens' Lewis, but in 10 years the six-time Pro Bowler has one more sack (37.5) than Lewis in 14 years, and 934 tackles, 17 interceptions, and eight forced fumbles.
Hopefully Brian has a little more fuel left in the tank and those numbers will continue to grow. In addition to the statistics listed above, Brian Urlacher was named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2000 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, making him only one of five players to accomplish that feat. In addition to 6 Pro Bowl appearances in 10 seasons, he is a 4 time All Pro and made the NFL's all decade team. His numbers have dropped off in recent seasons but that may be due to coaching, defensive schemes, and personnel as much as age and injuries, hopefully more. Even during seasons with nagging injuries Urlacher's numbers are among the best in the league.
O.K., sure you say, that's all fine and dandy, but how does he stack up to other great linebackers? Let's take a glance at that. Our very own Mike Singletary posted 19 career sacks and 7 career interceptions in 12 seasons. He was a 10 time Pro Bowler and a stunning 8 time All Pro. He was twice named Defensive Player of the Year. Taking a brief glance at Dick Butkus' numbers shows that in 9 seasons he made 8 Pro Bowls, was named All Pro 5 times while posting a whopping 22 interceptions. I'm not trying to say that Brian Urlacher is by any means as good as a Dick Butkus or has quite the impact of a Mike Singletary but he at least makes the conversation and he's not done yet.
Now let's look ahead. Speculate if you will. This season Brian may have one of the best d-lines in front of him that he has ever had. If Julius Peppers makes the impact many feel he can and Tommie begins to command double teams again, Mr. Urlacher will be free to roam the middle and wreak havoc. Few linebackers possess his speed and instincts. Couple that with the already outstanding linebacker corps (Spongie) he works with and this defense could be special. I know, I know, I used the word "if" an awful lot. But that's what speculation is all about. And I don't feel anything I said was beyond the realm of possibility (except maybe the Tommie Harris bit but I think others could step up on the line) and that's why they play the games.