Originally Posted by bigbluedefense
Ive stated before that he's the perfect Tampa 2 ILB, theres no question about that.
My problem is when people compare him to other greats in the history of the game. They gas him up way too much. For him to be in that discussion, he needs to be a better run stopper. At the end of the day, a MIKE's job is to stop the run, and Urlacher isn't that great at it. He's upper tier, but I can probably name you 5 MIKEs in the NFL currently that are better than him at that. And like you said, the MIKEs in the NFL are rather weak nowadays.
Is he the best MIKE in the NFL? Honestly, I rather have Zach Thomas, but he's at the very least the 2nd best, right now. I won't debate that.
But remember this, Urlacher will fall off harder at the end of his career than Lewis did. He continuously takes bad angles, and isn't the smartest ILB either. When he loses his athleticism, he will become a below average MIKE, because he doesn't have the intangibles to fall back on.
I think he's overrated not compared to other NFL players, but overrated in the context of history. He's too high on most people's best MIKEs list for the most part.
I wouldn't say that Lewis' raw ability to stop the run was any better than Urlacher's at any point in their respective careers. Keep in mind that in his prime, Lewis had two man-beasts in front of him, whose sole purpose was to keep blockers off of him, whereas Urlacher's defensive scheme has his tackles blowing through a gap and getting upfield.
Keep in mind, too, that Lewis was pretty average against the run when the Ravens switched to a 3-4. To compensate, Baltimore used Edgerton Hartwell as their plugger, and used Lewis in more of a freelancing/coverage type of role. It should also be dually noted that Ray played a lot worse in that 3-4 defense once Hartwell departed to Atlanta.
I'd say the one thing that separates the two of them, like you said, is instincts. In terms of run stopping or pass coverage ability
, I don't think either one holds an advantage over the other.