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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Matt Hasselbeck: Titan one day, Colt the next

Matt Hasselbeck

The QB carousel is spinning, and Matt Hasselbeck is now a member of the Colts.

One day after being released by the Titans, the most-productive passer in Seahawks history has signed on to be Andrew Luck’s backup in Indianapolis – where the Seahawks will play the Colts during the 2013 season.

“His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. “Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”

Hasselbeck, who signed with the Titans in 2011, is moving forward to Indy because the Titans added former Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick to be the backup to former University of Washington QB Jake Locker. The backup spot with the Colts was open because Drew Stanton signed with the Cardinals.

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Titans release Matt Hasselbeck

Jake Locker Matt Hasselbeck

Matt Hasselbeck is the most productive quarterback in Seahawks history. He’s also without a job today after being released by the Titans.

“I want to thank Matt for his contributions to our team over the last two years,” Titans general manager Ruston Webster said. “He was an important part of the transition process — he was a pro at every turn and he provided an example to the rest of the team. I know that we are a better team for his being here and we wish him the best.”

Hasselbeck, who was voted to the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team, signed with the Titans in 2011 after the Seahawks opted against re-signing him.

“My time in Seattle means a great deal, because of how hard it was to really turn the program back around,” he said last summer in the story announcing his selection to the 35th Anniversary team.

Hasselbeck was referring to the 9-7 and 7-9 records in his first two seasons with the Seahawks before they went 10-6, 9-7, 13-3, 9-7 and 10-6 the next five seasons.

“Then, offensively were started clicking, and settling in on stuff we really, really loved and owned,” he said. “We had confidence in what we were doing and in each other. It was a pivotal time. After that, even the bad stuff that happened to us, we learned from it.”

Chris Mortenson at ESPN.com reports that the Cardinals, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Colts, Saints, Giants, 49ers and Buccaneers could be interested in signing Hasselbeck. “And list could grow,” he said on his Twitter account.

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On this date: Mike Holmgren commits to Trent Dilfer, who then re-signs

Trent Dilfer

A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on March 5:

1997: The team announces it is returning to Eastern Washington University for training camp. The Seahawks had summered in Cheney from 1976-85 before holding training camp at their Kirkland facility for 11 years.

2002: Trent Dilfer is re-signed, but only after coach Mike Holmgren commits to the veteran quarterback has his starter. That lasts only until midseason, when Dilfer ruptures an Achilles against the Cowboys in Dallas and Matt Hasselbeck steps back in as the starter.

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On this date: Matt Hasselbeck acquired in trade with Packers

Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Holmgren

A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on March 2:

2001: Matt Hasselbeck is acquired in a trade with the Green Bay Packers. The teams switch picks in the first round of that year’s NFL Draft and the Seahawks also give the Packers a third-round draft choice. In starting 131 games over the next 10 seasons, Hasselbeck becomes the franchise’s all-time leader in completions and passing yards and is voted to the 35th Anniversary team.

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On this date: Matt Hasselbeck signed to long-term contract

Matt Hasselbeck

A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 22:

1989: Tom Flores is named president and general manager to replace Mike McCormack. Flores became head coach in 1992, replacing Chuck Knox.

2002: Three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Sinclair is released. Sinclair leaves after producing 73½ career sacks, including a league-leading 16½ in 1998, to rank second in franchise history to Jacob Green (116).

2005: Matt Hasselbeck is signed to a multi-year contract and Shaun Alexander is given the franchise tag. Both would be instrumental in the Seahawks’ run to the Super Bowl that season, as Alexander scored a then-league record 28 touchdowns and led the NFL in rushing while being voted league MVP and Hasselbeck passed for 3,459 yards and 24 touchdowns while compiling a career-best 98.2 passer rating.

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On this date: Rick Mirer traded to Bears for first-round draft choice

Rick Mirer

A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 18:

1997: Rick Mirer, the second pick overall in the 1993 NFL Draft, is traded to the Bears for a first-round draft choice that the club uses to trade up to the third spot in the ’97 Draft to select Shawn Springs. Mirer was 20-31 as a starter for the Seahawks, but his victory total ranks fourth in franchise history behind Dave Krieg (70), Matt Hasselbeck (69) and Jim Zorn (40).

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On this date: Joey Galloway traded for two first-round draft choices

Joey Galloway

A look at some memorable moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 12:

2000: Joey Galloway is traded to the Cowboys for first-round draft choices in 2000 and 2001, picks the Seahawks use to select Shaun Alexander and Koren Robinson.

2003: John Marshall is hired as linebackers coach on Mike Holmgren’s staff.

2006: Matt Hasselbeck completes 10 of 17 passes for 85 yards as the NFC wins the Pro Bowl 23-17 in a defense-dominated game that features 10 turnovers and seven sacks. Lofa Tatupu has a team-high six tackles, as well as two more on special teams, while Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Mack Strong and Robbie Tobeck help the NFC convert eight of 18 third-down situations and control the ball for 32 minutes.

On this date: Matt Hasselbeck throws TD pass in Pro Bowl

Matt Hasselbeck

A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 10:

2008: Matt Hasselbeck completes 7 of 9 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown to help the NFC win the Pro Bowl 42-30. Cornerback Marcus Trufant had five tackles to share team-high honors, while middle linebacker had Lofa Tatupu four tackles.

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On this date: Shaun Alexander scores three times in Pro Bowl

Shaun Alexander

A look at a memorable moment in Seahawks history that occurred on Feb. 8:

2004: Shaun Alexander runs for 66 yards and two touchdowns and also scores on a 5-yard reception to help the NFC take a wild 55-52 victory in the Pro Bowl. Matt Hasselbeck (4 of 9 for 51 yards), Alex Bannister (one special teams tackle), Steve Hutchinson and Walter Jones also represent the Seahawks in the game.

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