Bears respond to Urlacher's frustration

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Brian Urlacher

    Brian Urlacher

 
 
Published12/1/2009 12:03 AM

The Bears' performance has been so disappointing this season that even players on injured reserve are complaining and criticizing.

Injured middle linebacker Brian Urlacher says in a current Internet story that he feels like the team has lost its identity because it is no longer able to run the football, play solid defense and thereby control the tempo of games.

 

The Bears have lost four straight and six of their last seven, leaving them with a 4-7 record. Only seven NFL teams are worse.

Asked Monday afternoon about Urlacher's comments, Lovie Smith disagreed that the identity of the team has changed, but the Bears' coach said he understands the sentiments that Urlacher is feeling as he watches from the sideline with a dislocated right wrist.

"I can see why everyone who is a part of our football team is frustrated right now," Smith said. "Brian is a part of that. As far as our identity changing, no, I think every team in the National Football League needs to be able to run the football. They'll all say that. And at times they need to pass it.

"Sometimes you need to pass it more than you need to run it. That's what we are, that's what we have been throughout. By us saying that we are a running football team, that doesn't change what we try to do each week."

The Bears are averaging just 85.1 rushing yards per game, dead last in the NFL. In Sunday's 36-10 loss to the Vikings, quarterback Jay Cutler's 8-yard scramble was their longest gain of the day on the ground, and as a team they managed 43 yards on just 11 rushing attempts. The Bears are also last in the NFL with 21.1 rushing attempts per game.

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In four games this year, the Bears have rushed for fewer than 50 yards. They have scored touchdowns on the ground in just two of their 11 games - against the Lions and Browns, who are a combined 3-19.

Only three times this season have the Bears topped 100 rushing yards. Twenty-one of 32 NFL teams average over 100 rushing yards per game.

Featured running back Matt Forte is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, down significantly from the 3.9 yards he averaged last season as a rookie. He has just two runs of 20 yards or longer, and both were against the Lions. As a team, the Bears have 21 runs of 10 yards or longer; their opponents have 45.

Said center Olin Kreutz, a team captain and a locker room leader at Halas Hall for several years: "The identity of losing - we're not happy with that, if that's what (Urlacher) means. But the way we look on the field right now, the way we're performing, none of us are happy with that."

Told that Urlacher was referring to the Bears straying away from being a team that gets off the bus running, Kreutz said: "When you're not winning games, obviously you're not running the ball (well), and you're not wearing people down. You're not keeping your defense off the field. Urlacher's obviously the leader of our locker room, so if he's not happy with the identity, we're all not."

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