The fact that Brian Urlacher called this 2012 Bears’ defense the best he's ever played with says a lot about the current squad. It's even more impressive when you consider Urlacher's inability to play at his highest level due to a debilitating knee injury.
Urlacher has been the catalyst for success for a number of very poised, very talented defensive groups here in Chicago. He was the leader on a team that went to the Super Bowl with a quarterback in Rex Grossman on offense, who time and time again, threw costly interceptions.
The Bears now move to 4-1, after a complete dismantling of a weak, developing Jacksonville Jaguars team. The final score ended up at 41-3, with the Bears scoring 38 of the 41 points in the second half.
The win is made even more impressive considering the first half was a near disaster, even on defense where the Bears failed to get pressure and could not stop Blaine Gabbert on third-down. It had Bears nation reeling during halftime. Luckily, the Chicago defense came out and turned it on in a major way.
The whole nation saw the Tony Romo five interception debacle on Monday Night Football a week ago. Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs both had interceptions brought back for touchdowns in the Dallas romping.
And it was the same story down in Jacksonville, with the same two players each pulling down and running in a pick-six for the second-straight week—first pairing in NFL history to accomplish that feat. The Bears also managed to sack Gabbert three times, and force the Jaguars to reconsider their stance on their starting QB.
It was a thrashing, not unexpected, but thrilling none the less. The Bears’ defense now has five touchdowns through three games, equal to their own offense and half the offenses in the League. Tillman and Briggs have more fantasy points on their own than Chris Johnson.
The Bears have the most interceptions in the NFL with 13, and no other team is really close. Chicago is top-three in sacks and have a number of guys with sacks in the rotation (Wootton had two sacks vs. Jaguars). The defense has now scored in three consecutive games; the last time that happened was 40 years before I was born.
Best defense Urlacher has ever played with?
The defense certainly has the star power: Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher. It has the underrated commodities: Tim Jennings, Henry Melton, Nick Roach, Israel Idonje and Major Wright. It has depth, and a scheme that works perfectly with the rotation on the defensive line. It has the right personnel in the right situations. This unit has made the Cover-2 look ingenious and bullet proof.
The Bears have always been a bend but don't break defense, but this year it's not even bending. The Bears have multiple contenders early in the season for top defensive honors. The defense has made us turn our heads to watch in amazement the display of athleticism and ability to score when the ball is in their hands. Five weeks seems premature, but if Brian says it's the best, you know I'm going to jump on board and believe it's the best.
The Bears came into this game currently ranked first in Aikman ratings on defense, which is the combination of seven unique stats in order to a come up with a common ranking. Last time the Bears were ranked first in Aikman was 2005; they were second in Aikman ratings the very next year and went to the Super Bowl.
In 2005, Urlacher was the best defensive player overall in Chicago and they were ranked first in Aikman, second in overall defensive ratings. The forgotten Adewele Ogunleye had a career-high 10 sacks; Tank Johnson had six. Brian Urlacher also notched a career-high with six. The Bears finished with 24 picks—Nathan Vasher had eight of his own. That team finished 11-5 and lost to the Carolina Panthers in the playoffs, but had 41 total sacks on the season.
The next season, 2006, the Bears got a major boost from rookie defensive end Mark Anderson with 12 sacks. The combination at defensive tackle with young Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson led to 11 sacks combined. Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher had Pro Bowl caliber seasons and solidified a scary efficient front-7. That team finished 13-3 en route to their loss in Super Bowl XLI to the Colts.
Lastly, the 2010 team, talent filled and generally the same make-up as this 2012 squad . . . It was Julius Peppers first year in a Bears uniform and he dominated, only with eight sacks counted, but he effected the game in a number of different ways. Briggs and Urlacher had what could be considered one their best seasons as a duo. Israel Idonje and Chris Harris in the secondary each had a very undervalued season, and the Bears finished 11-5, but lost in the NFC championship game.
The 2012 Bears have gotten off to an extremely quick start, and if the defense and offense can get in sync, this Bears team is in for big things.