SportsNation Blog Archives Chicago Bears
Brian Urlacher has been part of a long tradition of great middle linebackers for the Chicago Bears. But unlike Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary, Urlacher will not end his career in Chicago. The eight-time Pro Bowler and the Bears failed to reach an agreement on a new contract, leaving Urlacher to look for another home for the 2013 season. Can he still contribute at an elite level?
The man in the middle
For more than a decade, Brian Urlacher has been a fixture in the middle of the Bears' defense.
Still a monster?
Injuries hampered Brian Urlacher in the past two seasons, but he still had 170 tackles in 28 games.
After a hectic firing and hiring season, all 32 NFL teams again have head coaches, with eight teams entering the 2013 season with a new man in charge. The eight new hires have varied backgrounds: Four were coordinators, two were hired from the college ranks, one came from the CFL and only Andy Reid previously held a full-time NFL head-coaching job. So how does this group stack up? Click on the images to rank them. You must rank at least five for your vote to count.
New NFL coaches
9-3 as interim Colts coach in 2012
Former Seahawks defensive coordinator (first head-coaching job)
Former Panthers offensive coordinator (first head-coaching job)
46-7 in four seasons at Oregon
25-25 in four seasons at Syracuse
San Diego Chargers
Former Broncos offensive coordinator (first head-coaching job)
Kansas City Chiefs
130-93-1 in 14 seasons with Eagles
59-31 in five seasons as coach of CFL's Montreal Alouettes
Allons-y! That's French for "Let's go!" Of course, you'd probably know that if you lived in Montreal. You'd also probably know new Bears coach Marc Trestman, who's spent the past five years coaching the CFL's Montreal Alouettes to consecutive Grey Cup titles. The move is a bit of a surprise for the Bears, but Trestman has NFL experience and his coaching record up north is beyond reproach. Will Trestman's signing secretly be the best coaching hire of any team in this offseason?
The CFL's rules are a lot different from the NFL's, but it's still basically football. CFL coaches would likely face different challenges than those of college coaches when they move to the NFL.
Lovie Smith's job looked to be secure after a 7-1 start, but the Bears faltered down the stretch, going 3-5 in the second half of the season. That downward spiral cost Lovie his job on Monday, in probably the most unexpected of the coach firings thus far. Smith had the fourth-most wins in the NFC since becoming the Bears head coach in 2004, but Chicago seemed to tire of constantly falling just short of expectations. Regardless, this move puts Lovie, whose résumé is still pretty good, in the mix to replace one of the myriad other coaches who lost their jobs on Black Monday.
Out of left field?
Coaches normally aren't fired after 10-6 seasons, even if they missed the playoffs. Lovie Smith's job seemed fairly secure.
The right call?
The Bears made a Super Bowl during Lovie's tenure but weren't the kind of perennial contenders ownership likely hoped for.
It's widely expected that Sunday's lopsided loss to the Giants was Andy Reid's last game as coach of the Eagles. Reid is the biggest name among coaches expected to be fired, but he's not alone. How many of his coaching colleagues will be asked to clean out their offices on what's come to be known as Black Monday?
A new start?
Reid was mostly successful in 14 seasons coaching the Eagles. Will he find another job quickly?
Rex Ryan is said to have a good chance of remaining the Jets' coach. But many of the team's fans want him out. Will he survive Black Monday?
Plenty of experience
Norv Turner has coached three NFL teams. Will he be asked to lead a fourth?
One more try?
The Panthers are 12-20 in Ron Rivera's two seasons at the helm. Will Rivera get a third season to prove himself in Carolina?
While the Giants have a 14.4 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN.com's playoff predictor , the critics will tell you the Giants don't deserve to make the playoffs after posting a first-half record of 6-2 and then going 2-5 down the stretch. Giants fans, however, will kindly remind you of the 2007 season, when the team went through stretches of 0-2, 6-0 and 4-4 in the regular season on the way to a Super Bowl victory. So maybe it doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you get there. The Giants will be thinking about that on Sunday as they try to take care of business against the Eagles at 1 p.m. ET and then turn their attention to the scoreboard, since New York needs assistance from the Lions, Packers and Redskins.
The hardest part?
The Giants have no one to blame but themselves for needing help in the final week, especially after being outscored 67-14 in the last two weeks.
Giants at Eagles?
The Giants are seven-point favorites, but they lost to the Eagles 19-17 in Week 4. The Eagles also will have Michael Vick at QB.
Cowboys at Redskins?
The Redskins are three-point favorites and have won six straight games; they defeated the Cowboys 38-31 on Thanksgiving.
Packers at Vikings?
The Packers are three-point favorites; they defeated the Vikings 23-14 in Week 13. Adrian Peterson will play with a strained abdominal muscle.
Bears at Lions?
The Bears are three-point favorites; they defeated the Lions 13-7 in Week 7. The Lions have lost seven in a row and were outscored 69-28 in their last two.
Ndamukong Suh's crushing sack of Jay Cutler, which briefly sidelined the Bears' quarterback in Chicago's win over the Lions Monday night, was ruled a legal play upon review by the NFL. Suh reportedly won't be fined, but Cutler's teammate Brandon Marshall believes differently. Marshall said on Twitter and ESPN's "First Take" that he thought the hit, in which Suh drove Cutler into the turf with his elbow on Cutler's helmet, was "dirty." Is Marshall right? Or is Suh's reputation, based on his aggressive hits and previous fines, putting a different spin on the play? Discuss and vote!
It's never a good sign when your franchise quarterback is benched for Kyle Orton. Admittedly, by that point in the Cowboys' loss to the Bears, the game was well out of hand, but it's still a bad look. Tony Romo's first half was decent enough, but things fell apart in the second -- he totaled five interceptions on the night and destroyed any chances the Cowboys had of coming back. You have to expect these types of games from Romo every once in a while, but we doubt that Jerry Jones is that patient. A bad game is a bad game, but five interceptions is a total disaster.
Tony Romo has occasionally inched his way into the discussion of the top quarterbacks in the league, but this game gives him a long way to go to get back to elite status.
Dez Bryant is the Cowboys' star receiver, but his main contribution to last night's game was dropped passes and badly run routes.
Jay Cutler's night didn't go all that well against the Packers; he threw four interceptions, was sacked seven times, and had a Total QBR of 4.7, which is ... less than ideal. He even shoved one of his linemen after a particularly frustrating series. Cutler was understandably upset at his linemen (all those sacks will do that do you), but was he a bad teammate for chastising his teammates so publicly?
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
The Packers have been kings of the NFC North as of late, but is this the year the Bears break through again?
Vote: Five questions for Bears at Packers
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers
Tim Tebow is unlikely to be the starter this season. Should he look for a trade to a team that will build around him?
Vote: Five questions for Jets at Steelers
Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles
Baltimore's defense is getting on in years, but is it still tops in the whole league?
Vote: Five questions for Ravens at Eagles?
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
The Saints lost their first game without Sean Payton. Are they really an elite team without his guidance?
Vote: Five questions for Saints at Panthers
Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers
It ended up being more funny than serious, but there still could be some bad blood between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz.
Vote: Five questions for Lions at 49ers
Week 2 NFL Pick 'Em
Week 2 is rarely make-or-break, but a loss here could send several competitors scrambling for answers.
Vote: Pick the winners in every Week 2 game