Brian Urlacher was a key member on a number of special defenses during his Hall-of-Fame career with the Chicago Bears with many of them under former head coach Lovie Smith.
The absence of Smith, who was fired after a 10-6 season in 2012, is a big factor why the Bears have been so bad on that side of the ball according to Dan Pompei’s column on Sports on Earth.
“The thing is, when Lovie was there, we didn’t make mistakes. We didn’t run through wrong gaps. We did our walk-throughs every day and we knew where we needed to fit, we knew what we needed to do every single play. I’m not sure what’s going on right now, but there are some big-ass gaps.”
The Bears rank No. 30 in the NFL in points allowed, have the worst rush defense in the league and the takeaways that were so prevalent under Smith’s watch aren’t there as the Bears are No. 14 in takeaways.
Injuries are to blame as Lance Briggs missed a huge chunk of the season, Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman was lost for the season Nov. 10, franchised defensive tackle Henry Melton tore his ACL in Week 3 and the Bears have had to rely on more rookies than usual.
However, Urlacher sounds like he is questioning the effort of the players on the field as a result for the limited takeaways.
“The other thing about a Lovie Smith defense, you know it’s going to play hard as hell. You always saw guys running to the football. That’s how we got so many takeaways. If you didn’t run to the football with Lovie, you would not be on the field.”
Smith was not fired because of his defenses which were usually among the top units in the NFL, but because the offensive coordinators he hired were awful. However, Mark Trestman’s first defensive coordinator hire, Mel Tucker may be just as bad as any of Smith’s hires.