If you're just stumbling onto this series, I'll tell you what it isn't. It isn't a top 10 list of the best players on the Chicago roster or a top 10 list of my favorite Bears. It's just my subjective view of which Chicago Bears need to come through in order for the Bears to maximize their success in 2011. I looked at their on field impact, how much they will look to that individual for guidance or leadership, how badly the team would be hurt if they lost the player for any length of time, and other intangibles. Up at #4 is Brian Urlacher.
The first two years I compiled this list I had Urlacher at #2. I'm not trying to say he's losing any luster, I'm just seeing the Bears needing a few other players to really come through in 2011. But my opinion stands after three years of doing this series. Brian Urlacher is the most important player on their defense.
His ability to quarterback the D, to counter the offense's audibles, to set up his teammates, and to diagnose a play is invaluable. Adding Julius Peppers to the mix in 2010 was a big deal, a really big deal. But getting 'Lach back from injury was humongous. He returned to Pro Bowl form, and he was 2nd team All NFL from the AP. His unique ability in the Tampa 2 is critical to their success moving forward. Going sideline to sideline, dropping deep middle, and he's blitzing as good as he ever has.
I expect Nick Roach to be re-signed, and my guess is he'll be Urlachers primary backup. He has some experience playing the middle, but the drop off in ability would be a steep one. There's just no way to scheme to cover up for losing #54. If Urlacher is forced to miss any time, the Bears would have to alter some of the things they do defensively.
Here's the list so far, just click for the popable link: