Spend any quality time with Bears defensive players or coaches and the same statement invariably always comes up: “The star of the defense is the defense.”
The mantra doesn’t mean that the unit is devoid of stars; Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher have been voted to a combined 22 Pro Bowls. It’s more of a way to describe an unselfish group of players who have been teammates in some cases for a decade and don’t care who receives the credit as long as the defense excels as a unit.
“We know if we’re going to be good we all have to do our jobs,” said Urlacher, a 13-year veteran. “This defense doesn’t work unless everyone does their one-eleventh. We know that. We understand that. And if you do your job you’re going to make plays most of the time.
“We’ve seen that this season with all different guys making plays. Everybody has to do their job or we’re not going to be successful. I don’t know how it is anywhere else, but I know how it is here and we like it this way. And it may have something to do with us being together for so long and being close that we don’t really care who makes the plays.”
Making history this season has been a group effort for the Bears defense. Briggs, Urlacher, Tim Jennings, Charles Tillman and Major Wright all have returned interceptions for touchdowns; while 11 different players have recorded a pick, forced fumble or fumble recovery.
“We have a lot of stars, but they’re not really into individual things,” said coach Lovie Smith. “You know you have something special when guys aren’t really worried about what they’re getting and they’re excited about what their teammate is doing.
“Charles Tillman hasn’t talked about what he’s doing an awful lot because of everyone else. When the guys found out that Brian Urlacher was NFC defensive player of the week, nobody was more excited for Brian than the defense. That’s just kind of how it is around here.”
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