- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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In the lead-up to Super Bowl XLIX, some current and former Chicago Bears made the rounds for interviews, discussing subjects ranging from the actual game to junior-high crushes.
“Mike & Mike” caught up with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher to discuss Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, among other subjects, while tight end Martellus Bennett appeared on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” where he reminisced about playing the clarinet in junior high.
Urlacher, who faced Lynch four times -- including the postseason -- from 2010-12 compared the Seahawks running back to Ricky Williams. Lynch averaged 3.4 yards per attempt in those four matchups against Urlacher, and he never rushed for more than 87 yards in a game.
“Ricky Williams, in my opinion, was one of the better guys in the league,” Urlacher said. “He didn’t have the balance that Marshawn has. Marshawn, he’s hard to tackle. I only played against him a couple of times. We did OK against him in Chicago when I was there. But he’s a different guy now. He’s not the same player he was back then. He’s clicking on all cylinders.”
What makes Lynch such a dominant player?
“Obviously, you look at how strong he is. He doesn’t put the ball on the ground, No. 1. He takes care of the football; catches it well,” Urlacher said. “He does everything you want a guy to do. That offense, they want to run the football, which is good because he’s a powerful guy. With that little zone-read, man, it’s hard because if you get him one-on-one, he’s gonna make a guy miss.”
Shifting to the New England Patriots, Urlacher called Gronkowski “a terrible matchup problem.”
“He’s physical. The one game I played against him I think he pushed off on me for a touchdown. Offensive guys can get away with that. But he’s so good at using his body. He’s got great hands,” Urlacher said. “That catch he made against the Colts with a deflated football. ... I think it was in the second half. It was a full football. But the guy’s got great hands; big, physical guy, fast. You watch him catch the ball and guys can’t tackle him. The run he had against, I want to say Indy the first time they played, when he jumped over the guy in the end zone, he has no regard for his body. He’s a matchup problem for any defensive coordinator. Who do you put on him? Do you put a linebacker [on him]? No, he’s not gonna run on him. Do you put a safety [on him]? Probably undersized, unless it’s Kam Chancellor, then you have a little bit better chance.”
Urlacher also dished on Seattle’s defense and where it stands among some of the other great defensive units in NFL history.
“I think they’re already in that breath,” Urlacher said. “When you look at what they’ve done statistically over the last couple of years, and it’s rarely been done in the NFL. So I think they’re already in that category. If they beat [Tom] Brady, they solidify it, in my opinion.”
Bennett, meanwhile, discussed more lighthearted topics during his time on the interview circuit. Bennett divulged that as an eighth-grader growing up in Texas, he was a member of his school’s band.
“So I learned to play the clarinet because they had this one pretty girl named Amanda,” Bennett said. “She was pretty good. But she ended up being second chair to me because I was first chair, which is big-time in band. If you’re first chair, that means like being first team. Second chair is like being almost as good as the first chair.”
So what happened with Amanda?
“We didn’t have a relationship. It was one of those things,” Bennett said. “She was Korean, and I was a 6-7 black guy in eighth grade. I don’t think her parents liked me as much.”
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