Urlacher: 'I'm kind of popular with the fans'

Another season, another Pro Bowl berth for Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. Although he probably won't repeat as NFL Defensive Player of the Year, No. 54 has had another phenomenal season and may have his best chance yet at Super Bowl glory. Urlacher spoke with the media as he does every Thursday, and Bear Report was there to hear what he had to say.

Aside from finally hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy, there is very little left for Brian Urlacher to accomplish as a player.

Now in his seventh season out of New Mexico, Urlacher is having another sensational campaign in a Bears uniform and once again making a case as the best defensive player on football. Although Miami's Jason Taylor and Denver's Champ Bailey are probably the front-runners for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Chicago's all-world middle linebacker is certainly in the conversation. The Bears can finish 14-2 if they win their last two games against struggling divisional opponents, which would be the best record of the Urlacher regime in the Windy City.

Statistically, he is having as good a season as ever. Urlacher leads the team with 127 tackles, and he has also contributed three interceptions, one forced fumble, and seven passes defensed. That being said, there is one stat where he continues to post a giant goose egg.

Despite all the personal accolades, Urlacher is yet to win a playoff game.

The Bears have wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and appear to be the favorite in a wide-open NFC. However, dating back to 1991, Chicago has lost its last three postseason games at the friendly confines of Soldier Field. Just last season, the Monsters of the Midway were upset by Carolina 29-21 in a game that saw Urlacher's vaunted defense break down time and time again.

Urlacher acknowledges that these last two regular season games are meaningless to the Bears, but he still has plenty of motivation to play well.

"First, we want to win them," Urlacher said on Thursday at Halas Hall. "The number one thing is to be 14-2 [and] get on a roll going into the playoffs. We've go to be better on defense. We've got to be more consistent. There's some things we've got to improve on. Obviously, we've got to get those things fixed."

The Bears have been torn apart by injuries on the defensive side of the ball, so Urlacher knows the importance of having all his horses ready come playoff time.

"Get guys healthy, number one," he sais. "We've got to get some guys back, try to get them back into the flow of things, and just get better at the little things."

Considering the Lions are 2-12 and have an injury list as long as War and Peace, the Bears are heavily favored to win. In the season finale on New Year's Eve, the Packers come to Chicago and wrap up another disappointing season with Brett Favre at the controls. Rivalry games or not, the results of these last two games will have no effect on the Bears in the grand scheme of things.

Despite the fact that both the Lions and Packers are having miserable seasons, Urlacher will have no trouble getting himself ready to play these next two weeks.

"It's not hard because it is our job," he said, "and we love football. So we still get the privilege to go out there and play every Sunday. We look forward to that, but we aren't playing for anything except pride. We want to be 14-2, that's the number one thing. And they're division games. That should be enough right there."

It remains to be seen how much head coach Lovie Smith will play his starters on Sunday, but if it were up to Urlacher, he'd be out there for every snap.

"I want to play every game, yeah," he said. "I wanted to play last year against Minnesota, but it didn't work out for us. Yeah, I want to play every game no matter what the situation. As players, we want to be out there. I think most of us do."

Urlacher was elected to his sixth Pro Bowl on Tuesday, and he will share that honor with six of his teammates: Brendon Ayanbadejo, Lance Briggs, Tommie Harris, Devin Hester, Robbie Gould, and Olin Kreutz. The Bears have more honorees than any team in the NFC, but he feels that a few of his offensive mates were snubbed. According to him, Rex Grossman in particular should be making the trip to Hawaii.

Although he hinted that the voting process is flawed to some degree, Urlacher joked that those very flaws tend to work in his favor.

"It's still a popularity contest," he admitted. "I'm still going to say that. But luckily for me, I think I'm kind of popular with the fans. So that's a good thing."

Based on how many No. 54 jerseys are spotted around Chicagoland, he may be right.


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