Chicago Bears middle-linebacker Brian Urlacher has more than 1,200 tackles in his NFL career, and 41.5 career sacks. Despite a desire to still be part of the action, he's learned to accept the Bears' cover 2 principles.
By nature the cover 2 scheme asks a middle linebacker to drop in coverage, and be responsible for the center of the field where tight ends routinely run their short routes. It's a vital element to the defense, but doesn't always yield a lot of action for the linebacker, something Urlacher has routinely been against. In speaking to Michael C. Wright of ESPN, the Bears captain said the following:
"I've said it every year it's not my favorite thing but it works, man. We're good at it. We've got a lot of takeaways playing it this year."
Urlacher is right. This season the Bears have forced four fumbles, and intercepted a league-high 11 passes on way to their 3-1 record. The scheme allows defenders to read quarterbacks' eyes better, as the idea is to never have defenders turn their back to the passer. Provided there's a consistent pass rush from the front-four, it is extremely effective. Teammate Tim Jennings doesn't have the same personal reservations about the cover 2, saying:
"Of course, Brian, he doesn't want to run through the middle all the time all day. But what guy would? I think that just gives an opportunity for the D-line to go after them and get one-on-one blocks when we can bring an extra guy. Then, as a secondary (we) just read the quarterback and see that there's pressure and we can just go."
Jennings has been the biggest benefactor of the scheme, leading the NFL in interceptions on the way to NFC player of the month honors. As for Urlacher, he may dislike the scheme, but he'll be a leader regardless.
"I'm really good at congratulating people in Cover 2," Urlacher joked. "I'm the No. 1 high fiver when someone makes a play. I'm leading the team in that."
With 18 tackles on the season he may not be leading the team in tackles, but Urlacher remains the consummate leader on and off the field; even when the scheme doesn't tickle his fancy.