In this article, I am going to live out an interview I would like to have with Bears Middle Linebacker Brian Urlacher. I will ask the question, give his answer, and then give the answer I think he should (or wanted) to give.
I will mark his answer with an "A" and the answer I think he should have given with an ASG (answer should have given).
Q: Some people would say that you have slowed down a bit, and that you had your worst season last year; what would you say in response to those statements?
A: I would agree with them in parts about having a bad season last year, because I think I could have done much more to help the team win. But, I don't want to say that I'm slowing down, because I believe I can still help this team win, and as long as I can help this team win, I am doing my job.
ASG: My back is killing me out there. Not only because of the pain I'm in, but because of the load I have to carry with everyone not doing their job. I don't want to blame everyone else, but we miss a lot of tackles as a team, and I feel it necessary to make up for those mistakes, and that weighs on me.
I would say that my sack numbers are down, but that is not all my fault, because we're not blitzing as much as we used to. But, I do get in front of a lot of passes and knock them down more often now.
Q: After the end of last season, what would you have said was the team's biggest weakness?
A: As the Captain, I'm going to have to put this one on myself, and say that I need to do my job better. I need to make better decisions when we need a stop on defense, and need to better motivate my teammates to get it going when we're out there, trying to win a football game.
ASG: Oh, good God, our quarterback play, for sure. Not to take anything away from Kyle (Orton), but I just think we needed a change. He was a decent game manager, like Lovie is, but when it came down to it, on a play when we needed a first down, we just lost our confidence in him to be able to get us to where we needed to go.
Q: With the addition of Jay Cutler, are the Chicago Bears contenders for the Super Bowl?
A: I think we were contenders without him, but the fact that we can add a Pro Bowl talent to our team, at the head position on offense can only help our chances. I would tell the NFC to be on lookout for us this season. I'm not the type of player who will make guarantees, but I do believe we are a top team in the NFL.
Q: I might be one of the few who believe this, but I believe the addition of Rod Marinelli is going to have a bigger effect on the team in regard to winning games than Jay Cutler. Am I right about that or should I hop the fence back over to Jay's side?
A: I think both are going to help us win more games this year. I think all of the transactions we made during the offseason, including our draft picks, are going to help us become a better team.
I don't think it's fair to put that pressure on Rod or Jay and say they are going to be the main reason we are going to win or lose this year. But, I do agree with you that Rod is going to have a major effect on our defense this season.
ASG: As a defensive guy, I am going to agree with you, but only because our defense has been our staple in the past.
I think Jay (Cutler) is going to help us on offense the same way Rod (Marinelli) is on defense, but with our defense being our bread and butter, I would tend to agree with you and not the others. You know what they say, offense wins games, but defense wins championships.
Q: Speaking of draft picks, what did you think of the job the Bears front office did in the 2009 draft?
A: Oh, they did an excellent job. They shored up some holes we had, and added depth that we, severely, needed. I can't wait to get into training camp and see what these guys can really do, and how they are going to help our team. From what I know about Gilbert, he is an incredible athlete on the defensive line.
Iglesias is a quick receiver, with good hands, and can be a great possession receiver for us. And, the additions of (Henry) Melton, (DJ) Moore, (Marcus) Freeman, and (Al) Afalava are going to make our defense strong.
ASG: Same as above.
Q: What is going to be the biggest obstacle this Bears team is going to face this season?
A: With all the new faces we have, I think we are just going to have to get used to playing with each other. It might take us a game or two to get used to the rotations, the splits, knowing certain players strongpoints, and weakpoints.
Once everyone gets comfortable with each other, on the field, and our team comes together as a cohesive unit, I think we could be unstoppable.
ASG: Staying healthy. Last year, we were riddled with injuries. We didn't have our whole receiving corp healthy with (Brandon) Lloyd missing six games, and on defense, everyone seemed to miss action.
Nathan Vasher, Tommie Harris, Hunter Hillenmeyer, Dusty Dvoracek, Craig Steltz, Danieal Manning all missed games last season. If we can all stay together, for a full season, healthy, we could be a dangerous bunch.
Q: Give me your prediction for how the 2009 Chicago Bears season will turn out.
A: It's tough giving predictions. I'm not the prediction type of guy. All I can say is that I believe in our team, and our fans, and I think people are going to underestimate us this season.
I'm not going to pretend like we're going to pull a New England and go undefeated, but I believe we have a good chance of improving on last season, making the playoffs, and hopefully making a run in the playoffs.
ASG: Well, with having the weakest schedule in the NFL this season, I would hope that we could, at least, win 10 games. I think 10 games will be good enough to win the NFC North.
If he breaks out and runs for 200 yards, you really don't have a chance, but if we can contain him, and make them pass the ball, we can beat them quite easily. I am hoping they don't get Favre, because that would make them our equals, and we would have a harder time winning the division.
But, as of right now, I am saying we will win the division, and get out of the first round of the playoffs.
Q: Ok, Brian, I want to thank you for your time. I, also, want to thank you for answering my questions with honesty. I do have one last question for you, though. If you guys don't get the job done this year, and miss the playoffs, again, do you think it's time for a coaching change?
A: I don't think that's a fair question. We are only three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. The year before that, we were in the playoffs, as well. I think Lovie is doing an incredible job as our coach, and I will always support my coach.
There is a lot of parity going around in the NFL today, with teams going from losing 10 games one season to making the playoffs the next, so it is very difficult to sustain a winning record. I don't think it's fair to give up on a coach after only a few subpar seasons. We were 9-7 last season, and only missed winning the division by a game.
ASG: I think some changes should be made, but I'm not sure it should be at the head coaching position. I won't go into detail, but I will say that our offensive play calling has been subpar the past few seasons.
The public has been calling for a change at quarterback, and now that we have Jay (Cutler) there, if we can't get it done with that upgrade, then I believe it is time for changes in that position.
As for Lovie, I think he is doing the best with what he has, and for management to fire a coach with a winning record (Lovie is 45-35 overall) is ridiculous.
After he answers, I extend my hand, we shake, say our salutations, and head out the door. I walk away happy with what I have, and looking forward to typing out my Q&A when I get back to my computer.