When Brian Urlacher says something like " This is definitely the best chance we've had since I've been here to win it. You look at everyone we've got on our team now, this is our best shot I think," it creates a challenge for a commentator like myself. The question that is posed is "how can I write a piece that agrees with his comments and yet still make the piece fair and balanced --removed from being classified as mindless fan bias?" It's a tough line to walk to be sure. Needless to say, I agree with Urlacher's statements.
Urlacher is one of those players that you really hope wins a championship in his career -- mostly because he's so darn good that he deserves one. The quality he has played at year after year is astounding. Further, the quality years he is putting together as he gets older is beginning to cement (in my mind, anyway) that he'll one day be in the Hall of Fame --a goal that Urlacher recently stated is important to him: " That's where you want to be. As a player, you want to be the best at your position. I probably won't be the best ever because there's so many good middle linebackers. But I'd like to be right there at the top somewhere."
As for his belief that 2012 will be the Bears best chance to win since his arrival in 2000, I can't recall a year when the Bears had more to offer on both sides of the ball. This doesn't mean that I think the Bears are without weaknesses, it means that I think the Bears are in position to be as good as they have been in my lifetime --25 years. As usual in Bear-country, the offensive line is the key. A lot of people are writing off the line as being a major weakness of the team. While I wouldn't say the Bears are going to have anything close to an elite line, if that group plays even passably well, the Bears offense is going to drop a whole lot of points on opponents. The flip side of that coin is that a poor offensive line could derail the entire offensive train.
Urlacher and the Bears defense might be better than advertised too. I don't know if the defense will rival the best Bears teams since Urlacher's arrival, but adding Shea McClellin should add depth to the defensive line, and the Bears finally have some quality depth in the secondary. The jury is still out on a number of players (Chris Conte, Major Wright, Brandon Hardin (rookie), etc.) but there is potential there. Conte and Wright, for instance, stabilized the safety position last season after Brandon Merrweather and Chris Harris struggled mightily the first month or so of the season.
I don't know if the Bears will win this season (the NFC North alone is disgustingly good on paper), but the certainly have they roster to make a run. As a Bears fan, I hope that run takes them all the way to the Super Bowl.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed the NFL throughout.