Urlacher away from team after death of mother

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Urlacher away from team after death of mother

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011
Posted: 1:12 p.m. Updated: 4:06 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider Follow @CSNMoonMullin
The family emergency for which Brian Urlacher was called away in the wake of Sundays game was one of the worst.

Urlachers mother Lavoyda passed away and the veteran middle linebacker is with his family.

"My mother, Lavoyda, unexpectedly passed away Monday at her home in Texas, Urlacher said in a statement released by the Bears. My first priority right now is to be with my family as we mourn her loss and make the arrangements to lay her to rest. This is a very difficult and emotional time for us and I sincerely ask that you respect our privacy. Thank you."

Understanding grief

The tragic passing of Urlacher's mother overshadowed some of the mid-week mood ahead of an upcoming game. Players typically begin preparations and film study Wednesday but some of their thoughts were first with their teammate.

Yeah, it's going to be tough for our football team, but we're understanding, said wide receiver Roy Williams. Whoever takes his spot is going to have to play well. My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family, but he's the emotional leader of this football team, so we've got his back.

Urlacher is expected to be back but the alternatives need to be fully prepared. Those options are rookie Dom DeCicco, a converted safety signed as an undrafted free agent before training camp, and strongside linebacker Nick Roach, himself an undrafted free agent (San Diego, 2007) but who started three games in the middle when Urlacher was out for the season in 2009.

You can't replace that guy and you can't find a guy like that in the league, said quarterback Jay Cutler. He's the heart and soul of this organization and we all know he's going through a tough time right now but we're going to respect his privacy. When he gets back we're here for him.

Added defensive end Israel Idonije, First and foremost is taking care of your family.

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.

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Next couple weeks a critical opportunity for Brian Hoyer, Bears

Next couple weeks a critical opportunity for Brian Hoyer, Bears

One overarching NFL reality is that with extremely rare exception, the quarterback position is always a matter for discussion and planning.

Even in Green Bay when Brett Favre was setting the standard for durability, the Packers were about succession planning, cycling through quality backups (Mark Brunell, Aaron Brooks, Matt Hasselbeck) until one – Aaron Rodgers – was needed.

Even in New England, where Tom Brady wasn’t missing a game for 14 of the last 15 seasons, yet the Patriots were drafting quarterbacks in the second or third rounds of three of the last six drafts.

What the Bears are confronting last weekend and this Sunday is a template for what could be their tactics for the position in the year or years ahead. The Philadelphia Eagles with Carson Wentz and Dallas Cowboys with Dak Prescott are starting (and winning with) rookies who were selected into a depth chart presumably already set with a starter in place. And the Bears have faced a situation in their recent past eerily similar to one just three years ago that, had it been handled differently, might have positioned the Bears somewhere similar to where Dallas and Philadelphia now find themselves.

With Jay Cutler in the final year of his contract calling for guaranteed money, 2016 was clearly a prove-it year for him irrespective of the Bears’ failure to invest a meaningful draft pick in a possible successor. Now Cutler is injured and Brian Hoyer is the presumptive starter, setting up a potential scenario not altogether unlike what they faced in 2013 when Josh McCown stepped in twice when Cutler was hurt.

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McCown played the best football of his career, giving the Bears the option of re-signing him as a placeholder and pursuing a young apprentice, which the Marc Trestman coaching staff favored, or signing Cutler to a massive contract and committing to him as a franchise quarterback, which GM Phil Emery did.

Hoyer may or may not play remotely as well as McCown did. But this is not entirely a position competition between Cutler and Hoyer, any more than Cutler-McCown was. Should Hoyer perform creditably, however, as he did last year to get the Houston Texans into the playoffs, he gives the Bears another “McCown Option” – an affordable, competent-if-unspectacular veteran who starts until such time as the young quarterback is ready. That could be as early as the draft pick’s rookie season – as Wentz was correctly judged to be in Philadelphia, as Russell Wilson once was in Seattle, and Prescott is demonstrating in Dallas.

Wentz was not going to start for Philadelphia before the Eagles were offered a can’t-refuse offer by the Minnesota Vikings for Sam Bradford. Prescott was not drafted to be a starter, but Tony Romo’s preseason back injury and Kellen Moore’s broken ankle changed whatever QB plan the Cowboys had.

If there’s a twist to the situation it lies in the fact that it is far from necessary to believe that winning quarterbacks lie only in the first round. Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick, is still riding the Los Angeles Rams bench. Paxton Lynch, grabbed by Denver at the end of round one, wasn’t able to take the Broncos’ starting job away from Trevor Siemian, the 250th pick of the 2015 draft whose only action last season was one kneel-down.

But Jacoby Brissett, New England’s third-round pick this year, and Cody Kessler, Cleveland’s 2016 No. 3 pick, are starting, jokes about Cleveland notwithstanding.

The Bears looked closely at Marcus Mariota going into the 2015 draft. But they were faced with a franchise decision of expending massive draft capital in a trade, something they did once upon a time in 2009 for Cutler and didn’t want to do again with other needs to fill.

Ryan Pace has had 15 draft choices in his two drafts as Bears general manager. None were invested in a quarterback. He will not go a third draft weekend without discussing the quarterback the Bears selected in (insert round here).