I’ve never been much of a “Bulletin Board Material” guy, but it’s hard to imagine that Bears stud linebacker Brian Urlacher didn’t achieve that with his comments in regards to the NFC North yesterday.
“If you look at what we did last year before Jay (Cutler) got hurt, we won five in a row. When Jay went down, you saw what happened after that. When we’re healthy, I don’t see a better team in the NFC North. Last year, Green Bay and Detroit were in the playoffs, so they should be talking about them. I don’t know if they got any better in the off-season, but I know we got better.”
Now, his quotes might be taken a little out of context, but all his rivals within the division are going to hear, and repeat, are “The Bears are the best team in the division.” And with the Packers coming off of a 15-1 season and the needle certainly pointing up for the Lions, I’m sure hearing this might fire them up a little bit.
I’m not one of those people who cry and make a big deal when a player says something like this. It isn’t like he guaranteed a Super Bowl or anything. He gave a vote of confidence that he thinks his team is in great shape f Jay Cutler comes back healthy and he’s right. The Bears were looking really good until his season-ending injury. They’ve made good additions in the offseason and he’s frustrated that all the so-called experts are counting them out and only talking about the Packers and Lions.
But are they the class of the NFC North? That’s a hard statement to defend, but I’m going to give it a try here.
First, let us look at the Green Bay Packers. They’re only one year removed from winning the Super Bowl and if not for a late season upset by the Kansas City Chiefs, they might have entered the playoffs undefeated.
But when you got Aaron Rodgers leading your team, you’re always going to be near the top of the heap. He was so dominant last season and he is going to be an MVP threat for a long, long time. However, he had to play out of his mind last season to make up for an atrocious defense. A defense that was so bad that it doomed the Pack in their first game of the playoffs last year.
Then you have the upstart Lions, who like the Packers, can put a lot of yards and points on the board. They have the unquestioned best wide receiver in the game right now and now that Matthew Stafford has finally gotten through a full NFL campaign and has some playoff experience under his belt, things are finally looking up in the motor city.
The problem with the Lions is that just like Green Bay, they had to put up video game numbers on the offensive side of the board to remain competitive and make up for a porous defense. They will win most shootouts, but as their playoff appearance showed last season in New Orleans, there is always a better offense.
The Bears just might be the most well-rounded team in the division with having a good offense and a better defense. They aren’t going to wow anyone with their offensive production and Jay Cutler still makes a lot of mistakes trying to force things that aren’t there. But unlike the other two teams, his defense can bail him out of most of his mistakes.
So, at first, most will think Urlacher has been sniffing too much glue in his offseason workouts or something. But don’t be surprised when they’re right there at the end of the season, fighting for the division crown. As with everything in this league, it all hinges on keeping your quarterback healthy.