The Bears defense is flooded with talent, but one name has been curiously absent from the highlight-worthy plays. Believe it or not, it's megastar linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Not that Bears fans have any reason to be concerned. In a town known for rock-solid defense, the new Monsters of the Midway are proving to be an immovable object once again in 2006. They currently lead the NFL in scoring defense, surrendering a paltry 7.3 points per game.
The Bills feature a young quarterback in J.P. Losman, who appears to be getting better every week, and a budding playmaker at wide receiver in speedster Lee Evans. Nevertheless, Urlacher knows that it all starts with the running game.
"They want to run the ball," Urlacher said. "They're probably the most run-oriented team we've played against so far. The best back for sure. They're big up front, and they commit to the running game."
That back he refers to is Buffalo's Willis McGahee, the self-proclaimed best runner in the NFL. While the former Hurricane is obviously prone to hyperbole, he most likely presents the biggest challenge the Bears will face this season at that position.
"He's good," Urlacher said very matter-of-factly. "He can run downhill. He's fast. He blocks well (and) catches it well. He's the best back we've played so far, no doubt about it."
Urlacher still receives most of the headlines for the performance of the Bears defense, and deservedly so, but Harris has been ripping through enemy offensive lines all season long. The former Sooner is starting to generate an awful lot of buzz around the league, and his defenive captain is among the onlookers taking notice.
"There's nobody in the league that's playing better right now," Urlacher said. "He's the Defensive Player of the Year right now as far as I'm concerned. He helps us because they have to double him every play or he's going to make the play. Even when they double him, he makes the play. He frees guys up. Not only us, but the other d-linemen also. They're doubling him, so somebody's getting a one-on-one. He's just doing a lot of good things for us right now."
Urlacher was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2005, but when asked if he would mind if Harris borrowed the award this season, he seemed to be in a giving mood.
"That would be great if we keep winning awards," Urlacher said. "Lance will probably get it one time. Tommie might get it a couple times. It's exciting. This defense gives you a chance to make a lot of plays as you've seen the first few games."
The Bears have faced four fairly stationary quarterbacks the first four games. Losman, on the other hand, is very mobile and has made some plays outside the pocket this year. Urlacher acknowledges that his defense will have to do change their approach to some degree on Sunday.
"Yeah, he's definitely a scrambler," he said. "He's an athletic guy. He's fast. If we get pressure on him, it will be a little bit different for him though. Because our d-linemen can run, so hopefully he won't be able to break the pocket like he has done in the past. But if he does, we'll just have to run him down (and) see what happens. And we have to stay back when he does scramble because he will scramble and throw it deep."
Urlacher knows that Losman has the speed and agility to get away from pressure, but he hardly seems concerned. Since he has been in Chicago, his unit has faced some equally slippery quarterbacks and been able to shut them down.
"We've done well against scrambling quarterbacks before here," Urlacher said. "We've played (Michael) Vick a few times. We've done pretty well. (Daunte) Culpepper when he was in Minnesota. We do pretty well against guys who run because we are a fast defense, and we can get to them when they do run."
The Bills enter Sunday's matchup a little thin across the offensive line, and with the blinding speed Urlacher & Company possess, expect to see Losman running for his life quite often.