Brian Urlacher is a one of a kind middle linebacker in the NFL. I know we've said it before, but his skill set is tailor made for the Tampa 2 MLB. Lovie Smith couldn't have asked for a better player to run his defense. His combination of size, speed, and smarts simply can't be replaced if he were to go down. He is the heart and soul of the defense and as long as he's playing at a high level, he'll be the most important member of the Bears defense.
His knowledge of the defense is unmatched, as is his ability to get everyone in position pre-snap. It's fun just watching him work, pointing this way and barking out signals to his teammates. Even at 34 years old, he's still capable of making those "Wow" plays.
If he were to go down, the Bears would probably shift Nick Roach over to the middle, and while I think he would be adequate, he's not 'Lach. Roach is a solid NFL linebacker, but can you think of any "Wow" plays from him? He's a workmanlike player that won't hurt you, but is he a game changer like Brian Urlacher? If you think so you're either fooling yourself, or you're seriously undervaluing what Urlacher brings to the table.
He's missed significant time just twice in his 12 year NFL career. His 2009 season was basically a wash when he was hurt in the season opener against the Packers, and the Bears went 7-9. He only played in 9 games during the 2004 season and in the remaining 7 games without their Pro Bowl MLB, the Bears only managed 1 win.
But that's not to say I believe the Bears would be doomed if he were to miss some time.
The Bears are morphing into an offensive team behind Jay Cutler and company. The 2012 Chicago Bears should see some of the most dynamic offensive Bears football in most of our lifetimes. But even with the change in philosophy, Urlacher is still the most important piece of their defense.
The List so far;
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #10 Shea McClellin
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #9 Stephen Paea
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #8 Matt Forte
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #7 Chris Conte
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #6 Julius Peppers
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #5 J'Marcus Webb
The 10 Most Important Bears for 2012 - #4 Mike Tice