Is Bears' Super Bowl window closing?

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Is Bears' Super Bowl window closing?

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011
Posted: 3:31 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
Brian Urlacher interrupted the first question mid-thought during training camp when he sat down for an exclusive one-on-one with CSNChicago.com. Since hes been to a Super Bowl, two NFC Championship games, all kinds of Pro Bowls and such, what keeps him going?

Win the Super Bowl. Period, he declared. Its that simple.

It still is for the 33-year-old middle linebacker, who is savvy enough to read an offense and also a calendar.

We want to win now, he reiterated Thursday. Our window may be closing a bit; we are getting a little bit older. But

He indulged himself a touch of ironysarcasm, speaking with uncommon eloquence for someone with their tongue wedged so firmly in their cheek

We're still playing at a pretty high level, I think.

For as old as we are, we're still pretty decent, I guess.

But is the Bears Super Bowl window really closing?

Window-shopping

The easy answer lies in the 30-something linchpins of the defense; six of the starters are 30 or older, although not one of the backups is.

The Bears propped their Super Bowl window open a little wider in 2009 when they invested in Jay Cutler. They were within a touchdown of the Super Bowl last season, then went out in an abbreviated offseason and uprooted more than one-third (18 players) of their entire roster.

Indeed, do you know how many members of the Chicago Bears offense, starters or backups, are 30 or older?

One

Pretty decent, I guess

Since 2004, Lovie Smiths first as Bears coach, no team has scored more than 15 points (Packers, at Green Bay, 2009) in an opening game against the Bears. And that Green Bay game was the one in which the Bears lost Urlacher for the season with a wrist injury in the first half.

As good as the Bears were in 2010 defensively, Urlacher believes the difference in this team vs. that one is where it really matters:

Up front, he said immediately. I think we're good up front. Not only on defense, but on offense as well. Our line has played better, and I know preseason doesn't mean much, but we've got to take something out of it. I think they did a better job up front. Our defensive line is stacked. We go two-deep at every spot, and those guys get after it.

And it wouldnt be the time leading up to a season without the Bears being disrespected by pundits and experts. This year the Bears, who have had four winning seasons in the last six, find themselves picked below the Detroit Lions, who have had none in the last 10, in the NFC North by some.

We say this every year at this time, he said. It's the same thing; we're the underdogs again, that's the way it is every year. We seem to do decent at that role.

Then he went tongue-in-cheek again.

So we'll just do our best and go out there and try and give a couple teams a game this year. We'll do the best we can.

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.

How Bears are using veteran videos to school rookies on NFL way

How Bears are using veteran videos to school rookies on NFL way

This week marks the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end, depending on how you want to look at organized team activities (OTA’s), the third stage of the NFL offseason culminating in the mandatory minicamp June 13-15. Teams are allowed a total of 10 OTA sessions, giving coaches a final look at players before the break until training camp convenes in late July.

The sessions also mark the first time that the players, who were finishing college semesters this time a year ago, will be introduced to the REAL NFL, the professionals already part of the August fraternity to which the draft picks and undrafted free agents aspire.

Well, maybe it's not the true first time some of the rookies will “meet” the pros.

During the brief rookie minicamp, offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn did as all the coaches do: show his position group the film of them going through their drills. In the interest of accelerating the young players’ learning curve, however, Washburn went a step further.

[MORE: Bears QB coach Dave Ragone doesn't mind his type of turnover]

He followed the rookie film with the same drills being run by the pros, meaning the rookies could see how Kyle Long, Charles Leno, Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair and other vets did those same drills.

The difference was startling – as Washburn intended. The kids were being shown a new meaning for what they might have thought was “maximum effort.”

“That’s one thing coach ‘Wash and coach Ben [Wilkerson] have really been pushing to us — just making sure we’re doing everything to maximum effort, and always finishing near the ball,” said rookie lineman Jordan Morgan. “I feel like that’s stuff you hear at every level of football, but more so now, especially, it being the NFL.”

Rules limit the amount of work allowed vs. opposition, meaning how much Morgan might learn by going against a Leonard Floyd, Eddie Goldman or Pernell McPhee. But learning the every-play intensity at the NFL level may be difficult to comprehend for players who’ve obviously seen it done this hard before.

“The way the veteran guys run [the drills] is the way you’re supposed to do it,” Washburn said. “There’s a style of play, a work ethic you have to put into this. You can’t just get away with things because the guy in front of you is as good or better than you are.

“Scheme-wise, that has not been a problem, the way it has been with some rookies I’ve had in the past. It’s the day-to-day intensity and focus you have to put in for 16 weeks. That is a big adjustment.”

The NFL is replete with examples of college players arriving with elite physical abilities but not taking effort and learning intensity to the professional level. The Bears used the No. 8 overall pick of the 2001 draft on wide receiver David Terrell, who’d dominated on raw ability at the college level but never developed beyond a mid-level wideout.

Washburn saw something similar while coaching offensive line for the Detroit Lions.

“I had a rookie guard in Detroit who ate Hot Pockets and played video games at night,” Washburn recalled. “His rookie year he got by, played OK, but then had a big slump his sophomore year and said, ‘I gotta change my ways.’

“He absolutely changed everything and now he’s an absolute pro.”

If Bears rookies do anything video with their nights, Washburn intends for those videos to be the ways the pros do it

Why Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be 'pulling hard' for the Bears this season

Why Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be 'pulling hard' for the Bears this season

Jim Harbaugh is a former Chicago Bear, but that's not the main reason why he'll be rooting for the Monsters of the Midway this fall.

Harbaugh, the current Michigan head coach and former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, used to coach alongside current Bears assistants Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell in the Bay Area.

Fangio, the Bears' defensive coordiantor, and Donatell, the Bears' defensive backs coach, held those same positions for all four of Harbaugh's seasons leading the Niners.

[BEARS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Harbaugh voiced his support for his former assistants Monday, speaking with CSN's Pat Boyle at the Golf.Give.Gala golf outing in St. Charles.

"I know (the Bears) are going to have a heck of a defense," Harbaugh said. "Because I know they've got Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell and a tremendous coaching staff. So I'll be pulling hard for them."

Harbaugh also was asked about new Bears quarterback Mike Glennon, and you can hear his comments in the video above, as well as comments from Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer on another new Bears quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.