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Urlacher's Knee: How will it affect the Bears?

Urlacher, pondering a switch to LT after watching J'Marcus Webb.
Urlacher, pondering a switch to LT after watching J'Marcus Webb.

There has been nothing more talked about this summer than the health of Brian Urlacher's knee and the concern fans have about how it will hurt his ability to man the position he has manned so well for the last twelve years. Even this morning's proclamation of "I'll play Sunday" doesn't put to rest the ill-ease many of us feel about how the injury will hurt him, but can the Bears have a winning season and make a deep playoff run without him? That of course, is the big question.

There have been a lot of things said about Brian Urlacher's record with the Bears. The fact is the Bears are 7-15 without him and people often point to that as an argument that he is somehow invaluable to the team. However, that is a fairly misleading stat, especially in today's NFL when a MLB does not win that many games for teams anymore, single-handily.

I found a great article on this topic today from the Rockford Register Star, the article was written by Matt Trowbridge and was actually posted on Aug. 15, but I think it's still worth a read if you missed it.

Here is a piece of Trowbrodge's argument:

People love to mention that the Bears were 0-7 without Urlacher in 2004 and 5-4 with him. But their 7-9 record without him in 2009 was the same as their record in 2007 with him and only one game less than their record last year with him.

Better yet, let's go back to 2004. That year the Bears were also 4-0 when Anthony Thomas got 15 (or more) carries in a game and 1-11 when he didn't. Thomas ran for 335 yards in those four wins, but never once averaged 4 yards a carry. He averaged 3.3 yards per carry on the season.

He goes on to add:

You have to put stats into context, just as a .300 hitter at Coors Field is not the same as a .300 hitter at Petco Park, one player seldom makes the difference in a win or a loss, especially if he doesn't play quarterback.

Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times points out that the Bears averaged only 11.6 points in that 0-7 streak without Brian Urlacher in 2004.

The Bears lost seven games that year when they scored 10 points or fewer. Sorry, I don't see the Bears winning any of those games with or without Brian Urlacher.

Look, there's no denying the Bears defense isn't the same without Urlacher, I get that. However, the game, especially in the quarterback-centric era we're witnessing, is won by points scored and even with a healthy Urlacher most people would agree that the offense is better than the defense. If the Bears can average say 28-31 points per game, which I don't think should be unreasonable at this point, then the defense will take care of it's end. This isn't 2005 when the Bears D had to hold opponents to 10 points or fewer. The Bears can win without Brian Urlacher.

It'd just sure be nice to have him.