Bears

Brian Urlacher considering 3 Bears coaches if he needs presenter for HOF induction

Brian Urlacher considering 3 Bears coaches if he needs presenter for HOF induction

Brian Urlacher dealt with no shortage of difficult decisions in his distinguished 13-year Bears career. Not many caused him as much difficulty as the one that would confront him if he is voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

The “crisis” call: Who would present Urlacher for induction into the Hall of Fame?

Maybe it’s bad luck to think that far ahead, but maybe it’s also natural. In any case, Urlacher is torn between three possibilities (“I only get to have one?” he said, laughing, but not completely):

Lovie Smith — Bears coach from 2004-2012

Bob Babich — Linebackers coach under Smith as well as — at times — defensive coordinator and assistant head coach from 2004-2012

Greg Blache — Dick Jauron’s defensive coordinator from 1999-2003, who moved Urlacher to middle linebacker.

“Those three are the ones who had the biggest impact on my career,” Urlacher said.

And no sooner had he mentioned those three favorites than another — Rod Marinelli, Bears defensive coordinator for Urlacher’s final three seasons — came to mind as Urlacher recalled those who helped him become what he became.

“I thought I could do anything for him,” Urlacher said, then reflected. “We had a lot of players who overshot their abilities because of those coaches.”

Smith was the architect of the Tampa-2 defensive scheme that changed/”downsized” the protective four-man wall in front of Urlacher but also expanded his areas of responsibility and his opportunities for impact. Urlacher had six interceptions and 19 passes defensed in his first four seasons. From 2004-08, with seven games missed in ’04 with hamstring injuries, he grabbed 11 interceptions and broke up 43 passes.

“Lovie let me be an athlete,” Urlacher said, “let me play football.”

Blache brought Urlacher through the early years, while Babich — “Bullet Bob” to his players — combined with Smith to unleash Urlacher to another level.

“Bob is like my dad,” Urlacher said. “I talk to him all the time. Playing football for him, I could do anything — well, almost anything — I wanted to, and he wasn’t going to get mad at me. And he’d listen to me. So would Lovie. And I appreciated that. Same with Rod Marinelli.”

Bears coaches have been scarce among HOF presenters for recent Bears inductees:

HOF inductee          Presented by

Dan Hampton           Ed O’Bradovich, former Bear

Richard Dent             Joe Gilliam, Dent’s Tennessee State coach

Mike Singletary         Kim Singletary (wife)

Jim Finks                   Ed McCaskey

Walter Payton           Jarrett Payton (son)

Stan Jones                Bob Kilculen, former Bear

Mike Ditka                 Ed O’Bradovich, former Bears teammate

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”