Brian Urlacher Announces NFL Retirement

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It is officially the end of an era. For 13 years Brian Urlacher has been the face of the Chicago Bears franchise. Throughout his extraordinary career he has bled only navy, orange and white and has been the one true “Monster of the Midway.” On Wednesday morning the eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker announced his retirement from the NFL.

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Urlacher had been testing the waters of free agency this year after the Bears could not reach an agreement with the star linebacker. When it came down to his NFL future, he said, “Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.”

He went on to say, “I will miss my teammates, my coaches, and the great Bears fans. I’m proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss the great game, but I leave with no regrets.”

Urlacher SprintHere’s a little breakdown of some of his accomplishments:

  • 2000 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Winner
  • 2005 Defensive Player of the Year Winner
  • First-Team All-Pro 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006
  • Pro Bowl Appearances: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011
  • 2012 Ed Block Courage Award (given to those who showed a commitment to sportsmanship and courage)

As a selfish Urlacher lover, I’m honestly happy I don’t have to see him suit up in another jersey next season, but this isn’t the ideal way to send off a future hall-of-famer.

It is unclear what the next steps will be for #54. Will we see him on NFL network or CSN Chicago providing commentary? Will he be a part of the Bears organization in some capacity, possibly as a coach? Or will he head back to his roots of New Mexico and enjoy his retired life sipping on cold beer and playing some golf? Whatever he chooses, he deserves the best.

Urlacher, you are a class act. Chicago fans everywhere thank you for giving us something to cheer about these past 13 years. You will be missed!

Is Urlacher’s Injury Potentially the End of an Era?

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Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has been sidelined indefinitely with a Grade 2 hamstring tear. An injury to this extent generally keeps players out 2-4 weeks, meaning Urlacher will likely miss three of the Bears final four games. It is possible Urlacher could return come playoffs, but at the age of 34, which is basically ancient in NFL years, we’re just not sure how quickly his body will recover. It’s also very possible that without their fearless defensive leader on the field, the Bears could miss the playoffs all together – I’m going to try and keep things positive here.

urlacher-bears-apInjuries happen so frequently in football, I feel as a society of fans we’ve almost become numb to them, but when a player of Urlacher’s caliber goes down it’s like a dark storm cloud looms over Bears football.

With a potential season ending injury, I can’t help but wonder, could this be the end of number 54′s era in Chicago?

Urlacher’s contract is up at the end of the season and there haven’t been any rumblings of contract negotiations for the 8-time Pro-Bowler. We know the NFL is a cold, hard world where performance is everything and although his numbers are still impressive, Urlacher seems to have been playing in the shadow of himself this season. He’s been called for hoarse collar penalties in his last two games, which seems very unfitting of the biggest tackling monster in the midfield.

Who knows what the future will hold for Urlacher and the Bears, but I hope his last game in a Bears uniform wasn’t the loss against the Seattle Seahawks. The future Hall-of-Famer deserves better than that. Get well Mr. Urlacher!

Brian Urlacher

 

Injuries Continue to Plague Bears – Good As Gould Placed on IR

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It seems like injuries have yet again put the Bears in a sticky situation as the season dies down and the crucial final games approach. As the injuries pile high, our playoff hopes begin to dwindle. Chicago was forced to place the most reliable player on their team, Robbie Gould, on injured reserve Tuesday after he suffered a left calf muscle injury during the pregame warm-up against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday. Since the Bears are battling it out for the top spot in the NFC North this is not the time for a season-ending injury. Bah, humbug I say.

Panthers training camp16-year veteran, Olindo Mare was signed by the Bears after he won a tryout at Halas Hall Tuesday. Mare has some big shoes to fill as Gould is the fourth-most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history at 85.6 percent. Mare has moved around quite a bit in his career playing for the Carolina Panthers last season, as well as the Seahawks, Saints and Dolphins. He’s not a terrible kicker, with an 81.2 percent rating over the last 15 seasons, but as we know our Bears offense can sometime struggle with the whole “touchdown” idea and we heavily rely on our kicker to produce field goals from 35-50 yard range.

The injuries are really racking up for the Bears as the season winds down. We lost the heart and soul of the defense when middle linebacker Brian Urlacher tore his hamstring. Cornerback Tim Jennings is still recovering from a dislocated right shoulder he suffered against the Seahawks, but he’s optimistic about the Green Bay Packers game this weekend. The list doesn’t end there, defensive tackle Stephen Paea has an injured foot, defensive tackle Henry Melton injured his shoulder against the Vikes, defensive end Shea McClellin suffered a sprained MCL in the loss to the Vikings as well, but hopes to return soon. Just a few more to go, reserve safety Craig Steltz has a chest injury and cornerback Sherrick McManis injured his knee. Both Steltz and McManis are joining Robbie on the IR. *Fun fact: When placed on injured reserve a player must remain there for eight weeks before returning. Thus, none of the Bears players will be returning this year since their injuries happened too late in the season.

Basically, the Bears special teams and defense are in shambles heading into week 15 against the Packers. Hopefully Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs and Peanut Tillman can hold down the fort against the Pack.

Urlacher Picks Up Sixth NFC Defensive Player of the Week Honor

Hootie-whoo! Keep the defensive madness rolling! Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for week 9 after his impressive performance against the Tennessee Titans.

In a single game the veteran racked up a 46-yard Pick-6, seven tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. I think he’s feeling healthy again :-).

Urlacher is the second Bear to win the weekly award this season, he joins Charles Tillman, who has locked it up twice thus far in 2012.

Just throw a cherry to the top of that success cake, cornerback Sherrick McManis nabbed NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 9. His blocked punt during the first quarter led to defensive end Corey Wootton’s five yard touchdown (he scooped up that loose ball and brought it in for a TD).

I’d say it was a pretty great week to be a Bear!

Bears Blowout Titans 51-20 in Music City

There’s is nothing like a Chicago Bears romping in Nashville to start your week off right. I swear when the Bears play well I begin the week in a better mood. Plain and simple, the Titans got their “asks” kicked (please watch this adorable youtube video to understand the reference). The Bears have now won six consecutive games in a row; this hasn’t happened since 2006, and may actually be considered a contender heading into the difficult part of their schedule (Texans and 49ers woowee).  If you missed the Bears Titan mauling, below you will find a quick recap.

Who Needs an offense when you have the Bears defense?

Cornerback Charles Tillman’s ball-punching hands forced a career-high four fumbles. Peanut has been a recognized player in the league for many years, but this year something set the man on fire. He’s absolutely in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. The infamous linebacker Brian Urlacher trotted (it wasn’t as speedy as Tillman or Jennings sprinting down the field, but hey he still got there) his way into the end zone after the team’s seventh interception return touchdown of the season. 7 defensive touchdowns is more than most teams score all season, let alone in 8 games – animals I tell you. If all the critical pieces to the Bears defensive puzzle can stay healthy, this may be the year Bears fans have been waiting for.

Special teams got down and dirty:

They couldn’t let the defense have all the fun! It all started when Sherrick McManis blocked a punt (I mean when does that even happen?!) that Corey Wootton returned for a 5 yard touchdown. THEN Devin Hester got in on the action with a  44-yard punt return that set up a one-play scoring drive. Yup – love it.

The offensive spark was delayed, but things heated up in the end:

Counting on your defense to score first isn’t going to cut it further down the road for the Bears, but Jay Cutler and his boys woke up in the second half. Cutty eventually threw three touchdown passes to Brandon Marshall. Matt Forte deserves some recognition as well, his rugby style rushing touchdown was the first positive offensive play the Bears had during the game. Forte was also effective in the passing game, his 47 yard reception off of a screen pass was something to be reckoned with.

Bears fans are the BEST fans:

I don’t know what you heard, but LP Field sure sounded like a Bears home game with all that hootin-n-hollerin going on. I can’t imagine it hurts a team’s morale to know their fans are willing to pack their bags and head anywhere to cheer on their monsters of the midway.

#Beardown

BEAR DOWN in the Dumps

And so the hangover of defeat begins to dig deeper into our Bear-fan souls. After the debacle that went down on the field at Lambeau last night (final score 23-10), it’s not great to be a Bears fan this Friday. As the Bears sit 1-1 in the NFC, the question of – just HOW good are the Chicago Bears this year? –  lingers in the back of our minds. The season opener against the rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts went so well, Chicago fans were riding a 4 day high thinking the Bears could make an early presence in the division and then we headed up to Green Bay and watched the Bears offensive confidence crumble into a million pieces of cheese.

Clay Matthews (who is undoubtedly one of the best linebackers to ever play the position) pillaged, ravaged, and destroyed the Chicago Bears offense – specifically left tackle J’Marcus Webb. Cutler was sacked 7 times (3.5 delivered personally from Matthews), finished with 11 completions on his 27 attempts and threw 4 interceptions. Those are some real bad stats.

Part of the problem was Cutler’s cocky trash talking throughout the week wishing the Packers defense “luck” – which came back to bite him right in the a&%…”Heard some talk out of the Bears: Packers secondary not working coverage, bigger receivers … we heard about it,” veteran safety Charles Woodson told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols after the game. “We understand that Jay is excited about his new weapons (referring to Brandon Marshall and rookie Alshon Jeffery), but it’s the same-old Jay. We don’t need luck; Jay will throw us the ball.” Lambeau field is like Jay Cutler’s kryptonite as a Chicago Bear.

It’s easy to place all the blame on Cutler for being a headcase during the Thursday night showdown on NFL network, BUT it all comes down to the Packers out playing the Bears. Chicago has some things to figure out:

  1. Cutler played REAL poorly, but he is not to blame for all the wrong doing. The offensive line needs to block for their quarterback. Linemen are enormous SOBs and they need to do the job they get paid handsomely for. Also, when the offense is having a tough time to begin with, how about we avoid all the false starts (cough cough Webb).
  2. The O-Line was horrendous, however, Cutler needs to learn how to get rid of the ball and not take a sack for a loss of yards. Quick-short passes can be your friend Cutty.
  3. Our much anticipated receivers need to do their job – catch passes. Brandon Marshall our talented addition to the offense cannot drop a catch-able pass in the end zone. Earl Bennett needs to come up on the ball, not drift back and get beat out by his defender resulting in a Jay Cutler interception.
  4. Where are Chicago’s trick plays? That sneaky faked field goal with the GB special teams was slick and not one person on the Bears saw it coming – perfectly executed. Last night Lovie Smith and his staff got out coached…once again.

In the aftermath ESPN published a story about Brian Urlacher and his views on the Bears this season, “maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were,” Urlacher said. “We’ve got a long ways to go, that’s obvious. Maybe Green Bay is just that good, I don’t know, we just didn’t play well. They played good enough to do what they did to us.”

I would agree with Urlacher, we have a long way to go just yet, but no need to pout it was only game two! Green Bay is a well oiled machine with great chemistry and we’ll get another shot at them later in the season. Hopefully Matt Forte’s game ending ankle sprain isn’t serious – fingers crossed. Shake it off, rest up, and let’s take care of St. Louis in game three.

What’s in store for Urlacher in 2012?

The Chicago Bears were full of smooth moves this off season making improvements to the team’s offense, but it looks like things are a little shaky on the defensive end coming into the 2012-2013 season. Eight-time Pro Bowl selection Brian Urlacher, the heart and soul of the Chicago Bears defense, is still suffering from a knee injury he faced last season. After all the excitement from the offensive Cutler-Marshall duo wears off, should Bears fans be a little worried?

Last Tuesday Urlacher had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee – AKA a left knee scope. Now we’ve learned that Urlacher didn’t necessarily wait until the last minute to relieve his knee pain. According to a Chicago Tribune report, Urlacher traveled to Europe earlier this offseason for a “non-invasive treatment” on his left knee. This treatment is known as Regenokine injection therapy and has been utilized by other athletes such a Kobe Bryant and Alex Rodriguez. What’s the catch you ask? The procedure has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration  so it’s not “up for discussion” just yet.

The middle linebacker and the Bears are still targeting the Sept. 9 opener against Indianapolis for his return, but is this the best idea? The Bears organization keeps emphasizing the importance of the first game of the year – why rush Urlacher back on the field before he’s absolutely ready (especially when the Bears should be able to beat the Colts without their Pro Bowl Linebacker)? Does Lovie Smith’s defense only work if all four Pro Bowl defensive players stay healthy and on the field?

Urlacher acknowledged that the knee could be an issue all season adding, ‘‘I don’t see it getting any better during the season. We have to manage it, my reps in practice, and then get through Sunday.’’

Right now, fill-in middle linebacker Nick Roach can play the position capably. The key to the Bear’s success defensively will highly be influenced by the pass rush. In the preseason game against the Redskins we saw an example of some sultry pass rushing when Israel Idonije forced Robert Griffin III to fumble and Julius Peppers recovered the ball. If the big men up front get a ferocious rhythm going, our defense can survive while Urlacher recovers.

Knee injuries are no walk in the park and should always be taken seriously. Ultimately, it’s most important that Chicago brings Urlacher back slowly and the team tries to overcome his absence in the meantime. We gotta be cautious! We need the big man for some Bears playoff wins!

Bears Unveil New Nike Threads

photo by Sean Jensen - Chicago Sun-Times

After all the hoopla regarding the unveiling of Nike’s new line of NFL uniforms, the Chicago Bears threads look…basically the same, their classic “old school” look maintained. The Bears will debut their new Nike lighter and tighter uniforms this upcoming season. The other 31 NFL teams will be rocking new Nike uniforms as well because the company struck a deal with the NFL for the next five years.

There are a few key changes to the Bears new uniform, Nike worked hand in hand with Bears head equipment manager Tony Medlin, who kept the players in the loop. The jerseys are lighter, snugger, with shorter sleeves (this gives opponents less to grab onto), they obviously have the Nike swoop adorning the sleeve, but also feature something the Bears hold near and dear: the presence and prominence of the GSH patch, which stands for George S. Halas, the franchise’s owner and a professional football pioneer.

Bears Chairman George McCaskey stated:

“Our family’s biggest concern was, we wanted to make sure the GSH on the left sleeve went back to its original size,” McCaskey said. “It had gotten smaller. Now, it’s restored to its original, 1984 size, so we’re very excited about that.”

Here’s a little before and after for you:

Brian Urlacher is looking fierce as always. Some subtle differences are in the sleeves and neckline. The NFL logo on the collar no longer has a white background. The stripes on the sleeves have been moved up, and the numbers are now on the shoulders instead of the sleeves. The shorter sleeves allow for less bagginess, in theory meaning less holding, which Urlacher believes will free up defensive end Julius Peppers for a wild season. I think my favorite touch is on the gloves, I’ve always been a sucker for accessories, check it out.

The biggest makeover happened for the Seattle Seahawks with some coloring changes, a patch look on the shoulders and what are allegedly feathers down the legs representing the 12th Man.

Da Bears Making Da Moves

What’s that you hear? Oh that was a collective sigh of relief coming from Chicago Bears fans. Finally the Bears have acquired a top NFL wide receiver, and we caught ourselves a big fish. Three-time Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall is taking his talents from South Beach to Chicago’s South Loop. Giddy up!

The Bears traded Marshall from the Miami Dolphins Tuesday for their third-round draft pick in 2012 and 2013. Last season, Marshall caught 81 passes for 1,214 yards and six touchdowns -free agency was on Chicago’s side.

In his first big move as the Bears new general manager, Phil Emery reunited Jay Cutler with one of his go-to men from his Denver days. For the entire three years Cutler has spent in Chicago, he’s been seeking a big target with reliable hands and next season he will have his chance to show us what that arm can really do. Marshall will wear No. 15 with the Bears, the same number he donned in Denver.

The 6-4 Marshall instantly gives the Bears’ offense, running under first-year coordinator Mike Tice, a big-time playmaker.

“I think he’s going to be great for Jay and our offense,” linebacker Brian Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s cool that he and Jay played together in Denver so there is some familiarity.”

I can’t wait to see this offensive beast in a Bears uniform. Here are some highlights, Bear down!

 

Probowlin Bears

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Despite the disappointing outcome this season, five Chicago Bears will be making their way to the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. I guess it wasn’t all bad; we’ll go with “bittersweet.”

After many impressive seasons with the Bears, veteran cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman has been voted to his first Pro Bowl. Middle linebacker Brain Urlacher, outside linebacker Lance Briggs, running back Matt Forte, and special teams rock-star Corey Graham will also represent the Bears this year. This is the largest group of players the Bears have sent to a Pro Bowl since 2006 (when they made their run to the Superbowl).

This will be Urlacher’s eighth visit to the Pro Bowl, tying Dick Butkus, Doug Atkins and Bill George for the third most visits in franchise history behind only Mike Singletary and Walter Payton (all of which are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame). Soon enough we may see a bronze bust of Urlacher (and that large thick neck of his) forever enshrined in Canton. Briggs will be attending his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl, leading the team with 140 tackles. Along with Tillman, Forte and Graham are Pro Bowl newbies. Defensive end Julius Peppers and return specialist Devin Hester were selected as first alternates.

I’d like to state the obvious now. There’s a whole lot of defense listed above, some talented special teams, and although Matt Forte (pre-knee injury) was killing it racking up the rushing yards, it would be nice to see some more offensive players selected. Hey Mr. Angelo take a hint…Let’s get us a real wide receiver huh?!

Enough ranting. Congrats to all of the Pro Bowlers from the Bears. I would have rather seen another playoff run, a Packer defeat in the NFC Championship and a Super Bowl win. Wishful thinking – beggars can’t be choosers.

I want to send a shout-out to Vince Wilfork, one of the eight Patriots going to the Pro Bowl and my favorite teddy bear in the AFC. Hopefully we’ll get to see another interception like this :)