The stabilizing presence of Brian Urlacher


For a while now, I’ve noticed folks like to argue about whether or not Brian Urlacher is THAT good. I’ve come across a good number of people who believe he’s overrated – the kind of guy with a reputation that no longer fits his talent level. Yet there are plenty of others who believe he still plays at a super high level and is the soul of the Chicago defense. I’m with the latter group. Before this season, I wrote a post about how I thought the Bears’ defense would come back after an off year last year – primarily because Urlacher would be back in the fold. Adding Julius Peppers and Chris Harris helped too, definitely, but Urlacher is the soul of the defense and I believe his healthy presence is the main reason this defense is good again.

As I thought about this though, I felt I needed some numbers to back this up. Knowing that Urlacher’s stats are usually not that impressive, I went searching for the one thing I was pretty sure would separate him from most – the team’s record when he’s not on the field.

  • Since 2004, the team’s regular season record in games Brian Urlacher played was 56-33. That’s a 63% winning percentage.
  • Since 2004, the team’s regular season record in games Urlacher didn’t play was 7-16. That’s a 30% winning percentage.
  • In the year 2004 by itself, Urlacher played in 9 games – the Bears went 5-4 in those 9 games. Their record when he did not play in 2004? 0-7.
  • Since 2004, with Urlacher on the field, the Bears have had a losing record just once – in 2007. (Note: he didn’t play in 2009 when they also had a losing record and in 2004, the Bears were 5-4 when he was on the field…0-7 when he wasn’t.)

These stats may not blow you away but they should adequately highlight the fact that Urlacher’s presence in the lineup is critical to Chicago’s success. He will very much be present in their lineup this weekend and while he may not have the glamor stats like a bunch of picks, forced fumbles, defensive TDs, sacks, he just gets his job done – his job as leader of the defense.

One Response to “The stabilizing presence of Brian Urlacher”

  1. Bill Says:

    Excellent post! The MLB in the Bears’ base Cover 2 defense will never garner the glory stats, as their primary responsibility against the pass is for the deep middle zone, between the 2 deep safeties. The MLB essentially runs themselves out of many plays. It is a testimony to Urlacher’s speed and ability to read and react that he has consistently led the team in solo and combined tackles. Which says something considering all of the talent that has surrounded him most years. This year: Briggs, Peppers, Harris, etc.

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