End of the Brian Urlacher era in Chicago

Brian Urlacher

As most of you know, I not only get into Seahawks games free, I watch from the press box. But there are some players in the league I would pay to watch, and Brian Urlacher is one of them.

So the word out of Chicago today that the Bears and their eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker will be parting ways after 13 ridiculously productive seasons prompted, well, this blog item. There’s not much to not like about the way Urlacher plays the game, other than the fact that he’s played against the Seahawks on a far-to-regular basis in recent seasons.

For the just-how-does-he-play-the-game follow to that statement, I’ll defer to Michael Robinson, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl-caliber fullback and lead blocker for Marshawn Lynch – a job that has forced his path to veer directly into Urlacher on many occasions the past three seasons. Robinson joined the Seahawks in 2010, so he played against Urlacher twice that season (regular season and postseason, both in Chicago); again 2011 (regular season, again in Chicago); and last season (regular season, and yet again in Chicago).

“He’s a very, very difficult guy to block,” Robinson said before the Week 15 game against the Bears in 2011, with Urlacher’s then 1,556 career tackles as proof – a total that has since grown to 1,779. “He’s very, very smart. He knows where the ball carrier wants to go and he’s all about the ball. He doesn’t like dealing with lead blockers, and the guys in front of him make it difficult for you to get on him, too.”

Before there was Robinson, there was Matt Hasselbeck – the former Seahawks QB who used to engage in some memorable pre-snap games of cat and mouse with the Bears’ middle linebacker.

“Urlacher does a great job of audibling as a middle linebacker,” Hasselbeck said before that regular season game against Urlacher in 2010. “He’s a great player and he’s well-coached. He’s been playing in this scheme a long time and you’ll see when an offense checks – a quarterback checks – he’ll check. Or, if he gets the sense that you’re pretending to check, then he’ll call it off.

“It’s one of those things where you make eye contact with him, you’re making a check, and he’s like, ‘No. No. No. Let’s just leave this one on.’ Or other times, he’ll be like, ‘Yeah, let’s check.’ And so he’s a great player.”

Urlacher, who was born in Pasco before being raised in New Mexico, has been NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2000) as well as NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2005).

In eight games against the Seahawks – two in the postseason, six in the regular season – Urlacher had 56 tackles, or an average of seven. And his consistency was uncanny, as he never had more than eight or fewer than six.

It will be strange seeing Urlacher in anything but that Bears uniform with No. 54 on it. But I have the feeling that Robinson and I will definitely see him again.


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