Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011
Posted: 8:54 a.m. Updated: 10:56 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Cam Newton looks pretty good but as far as Brian Urlacher is concerned, hes no Daunte Culpepper. At least Urlacher hopes hes not.
Urlacher, talking with Dan Patrick Thursday morning on The Dan Patrick Show on Comcast SportsNet, hasnt met the Carolina Panthers rookie, so he wasnt sure how big the new kid really is. Patrick surprised him with information that Newton was in the physical class of Urlacher at 260 pounds and likened him to former Minnesota quarterback Culpepper, a monster, in Urlachers opinion.
No disrespect to Cam but I dont think hes going to run me over like Daunte would, Urlacher said. Newton was last years Heisman Trophy winner and Urlacher joked that hed like a chance for a little fun with Newton.
I hope I get a chance to run with the football, Urlacher said, laughing, so I can give him the Heisman pose.
Urlacher did not agree that tackling is a lost art in the NFL, although didnt dispute that players had blow-up tackles and hits on their minds because it was a chance to be on highlight shows.
But rules changes have set up penalty and fine guidelines for an increasing number of actions, and Urlacher voiced irritation that the NFL seems preoccupied with defenseless offensive players but not with defenseless defensive players.
As far as how he tackles at this point in his career, I dont think about it at all, Urlacher said, adding, There was a time when a receiver leaned into me, head-butted me but he went backwards and I got fined.
I think proper tackling has to come back now because of how the rules are now... But the running backs and receivers are so good now, I just want to get them on the ground.
Urlacher played the Sunday after the death of his mother and said that, I think football was good for me, including being with teammates, who are among his most supportive friends. He didnt play any differently than he always has, just like shes watching me. Just go out there and make her proud.
The Bears are 1-2 and beginning to be left out of playoff talk. They shouldnt be, Urlacher is convinced.
Look at the first three teams we played, Urlacher said, referring to Atlanta, New Orleans and Green Bay, all three in the 2010 playoffs. I think we can get in there, Urlacher said.
On for the weekly visit with The McNeil and Spiegel Show, albeit without Spiegs whos off for the Jewish holiday, so Jay Zawaski and Ben Finfer were alongside Danny Mac for the day...
The focus is still seriously on Mike Martz and what exactly is going on after two games (New Orleans, Green Bay) that featured dismal performances from top to bottom, from game plan to execution. The question is, after replaying some of Martzs comments from Wednesday, what is the offensive coordinator looking at when he talks in positive terms about his offense, with the line playing well, the receivers playing faster and better, and so on.
No clear answers here. The line gave up zero sacks in the first half of the Saints game and zero in the first half of the Packers game, so the line is clearly doing some things pretty well, particularly with starters on the right side missing.
The only conclusions you come up with is that Martz is traditionally very supportive of his players, certainly in public, so the positive spin shouldnt be a complete surprise. And you get that Martz believes, perhaps to a fault, in his scheme and philosophy and is going to play it his way.
He and Jay Cutler were surprisingly defensive about scaling anything back, even though that appeared to work in 2010 when the Bears turned their season around. Maybe thats again a case of saying one thing publicly to send a message and then doing another when it matters. Thats to be seen.
Mac and the guys raised the issue of some fans hoping for a freefall situation unfolding so that at least GM Jerry Angelo gets fired. Personally, I dont get that, for lots of reasons. Someone hoping their team is abysmal is beyond me in the first place, and second, a bad season is no assurance that anything happens to Angelo anyway. Remember, the McCaskeys are not meddling owners and this is not a dire situation like the late 1990s when something had to be done with Dave Wannstedt.
The Walter Payton book had to come up, and Mac wondered how I felt about it or if I would want to write a book of that type. The second part is easy; not interested. Ive done four books, am working on another, and bringing someone down frankly seems like something that would get me down as well. I dont have any issue whatsoever with Jeff Pearlman writing the book, and Ill be reading it because its part of the job to check out things Bears. This is no commentary on Jeff, just my thoughts about me.
On another level, I dont really like rolling out all of the Walter stuff 12 years after his death. This isnt a protect-Walter thing at all; indeed, as I mentioned to the guys, a colleague once said that we in the media shouldnt write about the wife unless we were going to write about the girlfriend. Meaning: Dont chronicle a glowing picture unless you also were going to depict the other side, if there was one.
Walters status in Chicago and beyond has bordered on sports deification, so maybe this is some sort of cosmic balancing. Not for me to say. My assumption is that Jeff has done a very solid reporting job (I know the people he talked to and he was thorough), but its just not a story Im personally eager to dive into.
Will visit again with the guys next Thursday at 10 a.m.
The Bears organization did not wait long to respond to stories in a new book by Jeff Pearlman that paints a troubled and troubling picture of franchise legend Walter Payton, including drug use and a deteriorating situation in his personal life:
The Chicago Bears had the unique honor and privilege of having Walter Payton as a part of our organization for over two decades as both a player and board member, the teams statement said. We believe his competitive spirit lives with us today. When we take the field each Sunday, we represent the great players like Walter who helped build the rich tradition of our organization. Nothing will change our feelings for a man we have the deepest respect for and miss having around Halas Hall to this day.
The NFLs Man of the Year award was renamed in Paytons honor after his death in 1999.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.