New Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman is already making a lot of changes to the organizational chart. He’s hiring a lot of new coaches, and although the Bears had one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2012, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli decided it was time to move on. With new DC Mel Tucker will undoubtedly come some new schemes, and that means that some of the defensive free agents may leave as well.
The most prominent of those free agents, LB Brian Urlacher, has been a fixture in the Bears’ locker room for 13 seasons, so now the discussion will turn to whether or not he’ll spend his 14th season playing at Soldier Field. With a new head coach and a new defensive coordinator, it will be interesting to see how the Urlacher scenario plays out. During his introductory press conference Trestman had some fairly…well…innocuous statements about his star linebacker.
“I’ve watched the man play for a lot of years,” Trestman said. “He exemplifies what being a Chicago Bear is all about, and we all know that. When I step out of this room we’ll begin to study, and I’ll talk to [general manager] Phil [Emery] about where personnel fits on this football team and how it works. I need to be educated on that and I can’t wait to get started.”
Trestman was asked for his gut feeling on the matter, and his response was even more guarded, “I have a feeling that this guy has been a great player for this team, and I recognize certainly what he’s meant to this locker room and to the fanbase of the Chicago Bears.”
Well, that must just fill Urlacher with all kinds of warm fuzzies. After listening to that statement, other teams that are in need of a veteran defensive leader should start adding Urlacher’s name to their speed dials.
If Tucker decides to run a 3-4 alignment–which he is just as familiar with as the 4-3 the Bears currently use–it could mean a large-scale turnover on the defensive roster. The specific alignment and schemes that Tucker will want to employ will have a huge impact on the decision to either keep Urlacher around or let him walk.
Decisions like this are always difficult for a club. The thoughts of loyalty to a beloved player have to take a back seat to what is best for the team at times, and while Urlacher is certainly a player who can adjust to just about any defensive alignment that were presented, at his age attempting to make him feel at home in a system other than the 4-3 could significantly reduce his effectiveness.
Trestman was right about one thing – Urlacher does exemplify everything that being a Chicago Bear is all about. Sometimes that kind of leadership and strength in the locker room can be enough to overcome any perceived deficiencies on the field. Good luck to Trestman and Tucker on sorting this one out.