WSCR visit: Urlacher future not dependent on Roach


WSCR visit: Urlacher future not dependent on Roach

The state of Brian Urlacher now, a month from now, a year from now is the dominant story line through the Bears right now. It shouldnt be.

If it is inside the locker room, the Bears can probably forget the playoffs. Talking with Danny Mac and Ben Finfer (filling in for Matt Spiegel on Thursday) on The McNeil and Spiegel Show on WSCR-AM 670 at our weekly 10 a.m. slot, that conclusion suggested itself.

At some point, whether now or sometime over the offseason, its very possible that Urlacher will be done as a Bear. But that will be more a matter of economics what 54 thinks his value is vs. what the Bears believe it is than ability shortfall. And obviously whether or not Lovie Smith is back or a new coach is insistent on keeping that part of the defensive core.

As I said to the guys, its a mistake to measure Urlacher on a curve, what he was in times when he was an annual part of the debate over defensive player of the year vs. what he is now.

Right now he is just a very good linebacker. He leads the Bears in tackles. Teams that let leading tacklers (or for that matter, players at any position) walk either have a clear succession plan they want to implement (e.g., Aaron Rodgers for Brett Favre in Green Bay) or making a money decision.

Nick Roach is part of the future and Lovie Smith told me on more than one occasion that Roach fits the template for middle linebackers in his defensive scheme. But are the Bears better with Roach at strong side and Urlacher in the middle, or Roach in the middle and Geno Hayes at strong side? Easy call.

At the right price.

All of this presupposes Urlacher healthy enough after his various physical issues (back, knee, hamstring) over the recent past. But a casual thought here is that if Urlacher plays at 10-15 pounds lighter, he gets back some mobility and lightens the load on his legs.

Folks within Halas Hall have told me that the Bears under Lovie Smith will not draft a middle linebacker. Theyll definitely draft speed linebackers, but Smith is of a mind that the scheme that he and Rod Marinelli have run since days with Derrick Brooks in Tampa fares better with runners vs. pluggers. Urlacher was simply a freak who can do both.

If Nick Roach proves what Smith has believed all along that he is a workable middle linebacker the Bears will have a Plan B at the ready, something every team craves. But if Plan A is still at the NFL level, it wont be idly cast aside.

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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