Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune writes about Brian Urlacher‘s objection to Julius Pepper‘s roughing the passer penalty last Sunday. Urlacher makes the following two contradictory statements literally in the same breath:
“The ref said to Pep, ‘You didn’t have to hit him.’ Well, [Green Bay quarterback Aaron] Rodgers didn’t have to sprint out, either. He didn’t have to take the snap.
“Pep didn’t hit him in the head. It was a good hit. It wasn’t late. I don’t understand the rules, but they’re going to do what they want to do. But the penalty could have cost us.”
Urlacher simply can’t wrap his head around the fact that the NFL is changing and he has to change with it. The statement “You didn’t have to hit him” when you are talking about a quarterback in today’s NFL means the hit was late.
There’s nothing to “not understand” about this rule. I personally didn’t agree with the call because I don’t think Peppers could have pulled up. But the referee did and that’s the point.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has stressed the need to adjust to the new way that the game is being officiated on defense:
“We had to adjust, because those are the rules. The team that adjusts the quickest and fastest will continue to play hard and fast.”
Anyone with any common sense must agree. And yet here is Brian Urlacher’s statement:
“Heck no, I’m not going to change [the way I play]. I miss enough tackles without second-guessing. It’s a physical game. I’m not going to not take a shot because I’m afraid of getting fined.”
Then the Bears are doomed. It is, in fact, amazing that they haven’t been fined more by the NFL already, a fact which McClure points out.
Let’s put it this way. If Bears center Olin Kreutz were to make the following statement, how would Urlacher, indeed the rest of the league, react: “Heck no, I’m not going to change. I miss enough blocks without second-guessing. It’s a physical game. I’m not going to not block a guy in the back.”
Urlacher has to realize his statement is no less ridiculous. Tackling on defense from now, particularly tackling quarterbacks, isn’t any different than blocking on offense. If Urlacher wants to call it “second guessing” so be it. He’s going to have to play with his head as well as his body. He’s going to have to exert control over his emotions or the game will pass him by and the Bears with him.