Dr. Z on the MNF game

A nice piece, though it rambles a bit:


Yeah that’s a great article.

Can you imagine not being one of those close journalists or writers to Parcells, just one person you happened to cover for awhile, and then he walks up to you out of the blue and you chat for an hour about anything? Maybe Parcells was bored out of his skull, but I think it’s a fair bit of respect for Dr. Z and the way he covers the sport of football.

Good stuff.

— Alan

I love this part:

"Joe Morris looked like a mini sumo wrestler. Calvin Hill, the great Dallas running back, was also there, and of course, Carl Banks, who had been such a fine linebacker on Parcells’ Super Bowl winners.

“Give me a one-word opinion of Brian Urlacher,” he asked me.

“Soft,” I said.

“Thank you,” said Banks, who had been the best in the game at the little-appreciated skills of nullifying the tight end and never getting hooked to the inside. “Plays five yards back, runs sideline to sideline,” he said. “Never takes on blockers. … I guess that’s the way they want him to play.” "

I agree with this wholeheartedly, although saying it out loud in certain places in Chitown could get you beat up, since Urlacher is pretty much all Bears’ fans have to admire these days. But I always thought that it was Ted Washington that had made him a star, and that when Washington went down before last season, so did Urlacher’s effectiveness. And now they let Washington go in a cap move and the Bears will give the Bengals an argument for the worst team in the NFL.

I don’t think you can put all that on Urlacher though. He is a speed LB, moreso than a blow through blocks kind of guy, but I wouldn’t say he is soft. He hits hard and last year, without any great DT help, he had 214 tackles (159 solo). That’s incredible. He’s one of the best in the league, but unfortunately he is surrounded by some pretty poor players right now. Yeah, he won’t be able to make as many tackles for loss, but he is still a solid player.

A friend told me to watch Urlacher last Sunday night. I did. I noticed that if he wasn’t making the tackle, he was right there where the ball was, on every single play. I saw him pull a blocker away and nail the RB coming through the hole, I saw him stay on the QB (and it’s hard to bring down Culpepper) and he never made a mistake in every play I watched.

He is playing it differently, but man, that guy can tackle and bring you down. He’s got great eyes and feet. Yeah, he’s not Butkus, but I’d love it if he was a Packer.

Having seen a lot of Urlacher since he was a rookie, I have to say that Bub’s observation of him taking on a blocker and then making the tackle was unusual. Maybe this isn’t fair to him, as Carl Banks noted, that seems to be the Bears’ scheme, but, yes, he’s very skilled, but he’s still basically a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who plays about 5 yards deep.

But maybe this should be laid at the feet of the Bears’ staff. With Ted Washington bottling up the line of scrimmage that was a very effective scheme. With the crew they have now, it means a lot of downfield tackles.

Ray Lewis has the same problem though. No LB can blow through a 300+ lb. OL consistently. The goal is not to have one of those make it to your LBs. That’s what the DL is for and it is also why you want quick LBs. When Adams and Siragusa were plugging up the middle, Ray Lewis made a lot of TFL, but last year he didn’t seem to disrupt plays as much. I know he was hurt, but even before that. He is still a great LB (perhaps the best in the league, though as a Titans fan, I hate the Ravens already), but one guy can’t do it all. The Bears are learning that the hard way. Actually, the Bears are going to learn a lot of hard truths this year.