3 Reasons the Chicago Bears Should Closely Monitor Brian Urlacher This Season
The Chicago Bears had a phenomenal game Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts. The team played well as a whole; from quarterback Jay Cutler to running back Matt Forte, everyone stepped up. Brian Urlacher started the game after sitting out for nearly the entire preseason because of knee concerns. Chi-Town is going to need their heart and soul patrolling the middle of the field this year.
After the Bears got out to a comfortable lead on Sunday, Urlacher was taken out of the game. This obviously raised a few eyebrows, but I think it was the right decision. The Bears know how important Urlacher is to the team, so they are going to make sure he stays healthy.
The Chicago Bears need to closely monitor Brian Urlacher this year, and here are three reasons why.
No Real Replacement
In Week 1, Blake Costanzo was listed as Brian Urlacher's backup. I think it's safe to say that Costanzo is not the future at the linebacker position for Chicago.
Brian Urlacher needs to hold up for the Bears this season. With no solid backup and no player for the future, an injury to Urlacher would be devastating for the Chicago defense.
Without Brian Urlacher, the Bears have never seen much success. This is evidenced by their 7-15 record on the field when they are without their star. Without Urlacher, this year's Super Bowl hopes could be dashed.
Urlacher knows the Bears scheme better than anyone, and his ability to read opposing offenses on the field makes him irreplaceable.
The Bears need to keep Urlacher until they have a replacement ready to take his place. But as of right now, that is something they don't have. Maybe Manti Te'o will find his way to the Bears in the draft.
It's too early for speculation, but they are going to have to draft a difference-maker at the position before Urlacher finally slows down.
Keep Him Fresh
Brian Urlacher isn't the youngster he once was. Entering his 13th season in the NFL, Urlacher is one of the oldest players in the NFL who is still starting games. It's amazing he has been able to be this good for this long, but it can't last forever.
Urlacher has been battling nagging injuries for years now, and there is no doubt they are starting to wear on him. He has had back issues, knee issues and he even missed a year because of a wrist injury.
Even with the amount of rest he got in the preseason and training camp, Urlacher is most likely still not at 100 percent. And he probably won't be all season.
The Bears were smart to pull No. 54 once things were under control on Sunday. This is something they should consider doing all season. The Bears want him to be fresh for the playoff race and limiting his snaps will do just that.
They also should keep him limited in practice. Urlacher has been around the league long enough, he knows the ins-and-outs and practice isn't necessary for him anymore. While practice can only help, the health of the defense's most important player is more essential for the Bears.
Consideration of Whether He Should Be Re-Signed
If you were not aware, Brian Urlacher is in a contract year. The Bears starting middle linebacker last signed a contract in 2008. But at 34 years old, the Bears may not want to re-sign Urlacher because of his cost and declining health.
It seems impossible to think about the Bears without Brian Urlacher, but it still remains a possibility. Urlacher's last deal was worth up to $40.6 million dollars. Obviously he will have to take a pay cut on his next contract, but it still seems plausible for him to get $20+ million for three years.
Last season, Urlacher showed that he can keep Father Time at bay. He finished the year with 102 tackles and three interceptions.
However, in Week 1, Urlacher was not much of a factor. Despite sitting out the majority of the second half, Brian Urlacher only finished with two tackles. It was a relatively quiet game one, but he should see the field a lot more on Thursday when the Bears face off against the Packers.
I expect Urlacher to be around all season barring any freak injury. The Bears will take the necessary steps to keep him in shape and healthy. Urlacher will continue to prove his worth this year, and I believe the Bears will treat him like the franchise player he is. I don't think it is a question whether Urlacher will finish his career with the Bears. But they will be monitoring him very closely this season to make sure he can stay around a while longer.
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