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fordfixer
09-16-2009, 02:00 AM
Who will miss their defensive star most, the Bears or Steelers?
Brian Urlacher, Troy Polamalu will be missed, but adjustments must be made

By David Haugh Tribune reporter

September 15, 2009

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ch ... 1956.story (http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-15-sub-brianvstroysep15,0,1141956.story)

Together, Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu have made 11 Pro Bowl appearances -- Urlacher six and Polamalu five. But when their teams play each other Sunday at Soldier Field, neither defensive star will play.

Urlacher broke the lunate bone in his right wrist and underwent surgery Monday that will require him to wear a cast for 12 weeks and spend another four in recovery. Polamalu sprained his left knee in the Steelers' opener Thursday and could miss up to six weeks.

So how will the Bears and Steelers, respectively, approach their matchup without their defensive leaders? What will each team miss most about its guy?

Leadership

Polamalu unquestionably is the emotional leader of the defense and one of the smartest players in the game. His ability to make sure everybody is lined up according to coordinator Dick LeBeau's defensive calls is as important as his knack for making plays. But linebacker James Farrior is every bit the football brainiac and outside linebacker James Harrison has a way of bringing out the best in his teammates.

Urlacher doesn't get much credit for his ability to get the Bears in the right defenses, but he excels in that area. Replacement Hunter Hillenmeyer's strength is his intelligence, so that won't be a drop-off. To compensate for Urlacher's emotional presence in the huddle and locker room, players such as captain Adewale Ogunleye and cornerback Charles Tillman will have to take on a more active role.

Play-making

Polamalu's most dangerous aspect to opposing quarterbacks is the way he occasionally follows his instinct over any defensive instruction to make plays on the ball. You can't scout instinct. The Steelers could miss that with replacements Tyrone Carter or Ryan Mundy, who will play more within the scheme. Polamalu takes chances other safeties won't, and the way he disguises coverages also helps precipitate turnovers. The Steelers will miss that savvy most.

In two quarters playing for the first time in a defense called by Lovie Smith, Urlacher got more involved in the pass rush and showed the ability to move laterally better than in previous seasons. Like Polamalu, some of Urlacher's best plays are of the freelance variety when he trusts his athleticism. Neither Hillenmeyer nor Jamar Williams possess those sort of talents, so the Bears will strive for solid over spectacular at the position.

Replacements

Polamalu's backups are Carter and Mundy, midlevel players who likely will be targeted by Jay Cutler and could reduce the blitz package for the Steelers.

Hillenmeyer filled in against the Packers and likely will get the nod Sunday. Williams also can play the position and all he lacks is experience. Much discussion will center on moving Lance Briggs to the middle, but that's not realistic or wise.

Outlook

LeBeau is a football guru's guru, a Hall of Fame-caliber assistant, and there's no way he will let the loss of one player affect his defense. Expect LeBeau to find ways to hide the safety playing in place of Polamalu so he isn't exposed in deep coverage more than necessary. The other key factor: The Steelers have perhaps the NFL's best defense, so losing one player will affect it less than it does most teams.

Smith may not be able to be as aggressive with his linebackers as he could with Urlacher. Also, depending on when Pisa Tinoisamoa returns, he and Briggs could emerge as the two nickel linebackers rather than keeping Hillenmeyer on the field on passing downs. Not having Urlacher from an emotional standpoint could take as much adjustment as not having him lined up five yards deep over a guard. But in time, the Bears could adjust to both new realities and still have a defense that's fundamentally as sound.

JTP53609
09-16-2009, 01:29 PM
steelers, without troy our defense looked just above average, with him in the lineup we are magnificent, he does so many things, closes groud, covers ground makes big plays by being in the right spot. Ty Carter cant fill his shoes, he can try but he is no Troy. Urlacher was outstanding but he was entering his 10th year and he is on the decline, Hillenmeyer will fill in for him nicely...

LasVegasGuy
09-16-2009, 01:32 PM
I think the Bears. We still have many, many playmakers on defense. However, we may have to play a little closer to the vest. For Chicago Brian is the heart and soul of that defense. The same way Ray Lewis is in Baltimore.

Jigawatts
09-16-2009, 01:37 PM
The bears will miss their star LB.

We'll miss Troy, but Cutler will have many other Steelers defenders to throw to.

Advantage - The good guys.

Shoe
09-16-2009, 02:45 PM
It's hard to say cuz we don't watch the Bears all the time. Both play a vital position in that coach's/team's scheme. I also think (my opinion), that while Urlacher still probably is a very good player, he has slipped from the impact player that he was 3-5 years ago.

Polamalu is at his peak.

RuthlessBurgher
09-19-2009, 06:30 PM
On Sirius NFL Radio, they mentioned that the Steelers are 6-2 when Polamalu is out due to injury and the Bears are 0-5 when Urlacher is out due to injury. There is your answer right there.

Discipline of Steel
09-19-2009, 07:06 PM
On Sirius NFL Radio, they mentioned that the Steelers are 6-2 when Polamalu is out due to injury and the Bears are 0-5 when Urlacher is out due to injury. There is your answer right there.

Dam you Ruthless, always ending good conversations with cold hard facts! :lol:

skyhawk
09-19-2009, 07:36 PM
Urlacher is the most overrated LB in the modern era. :shock:

Discipline of Steel
09-19-2009, 08:05 PM
Urlacher is the most overrated LB in the modern era. :shock:

Yeah but RayRay is striving to overtake him as his career comes to a close.

flippy
09-20-2009, 07:44 AM
The Bears because we've got a solid vet stepping in for Troy and LT is suiting up to play and he'll help out.