Brian Urlacher: Bears, Not Packers, Team to Beat in the NFC
The Chicago Bears surprised a lot of people last season. Coming off a disappointing 7-9 season in 2009, no one really expected Jay Cutler and the offense to click enough for the Bears to be successful. Although he was eventually criticized for showing a lack of toughness in the NFC Championship Game — a game Chicago lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Packers — Cutler posted a passer rating of 86.3 in 2010 (10 points higher than 2009) and threw only 16 interceptions (10 less than 2009). Apparently, his performance was enough to convince Brian Urlacher that the Bears are the team to beat in the NFC.
“I think we’re the best team in our conference,” Urlacher told the Albuquerque Journal via ESPNChicago.com. “I know we’re not the Super Bowl champs like the Green Bay Packers. We want to be the best in our conference and to be there, we’ve got to go through Green Bay.”
Which one is it? Are the Bears the best team in the conference or do they have to beat Green Bay to prove they are? I lean toward the latter, but it sounds like Urlacher thinks both are true.
There’s nothing wrong with Urlacher showing confidence in his team heading into a new season. However, I personally don’t think the Bears will be as good in 2011 (if there is football) as they were in 2010. Chicago’s defense is aging and Cutler is on a short leash after not playing through pain in the playoffs — whether he was able to or not. The Bears quarterback is an easy target that even congressmen take shots at. In order for the Bears to win an NFC Championship, he’ll have to have extremely thick skin. I’m not yet convinced that he does.