Craig: We're seeing shades of '85 Bears this season

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 17, 2012 - 11:47 PM

Just hear this out: The game-changing Chicago defense of 2012 might be as good as Buddy Ryan's old bunch.

hide

Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (33), outside linebacker Lance Briggs (55) and middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (54).

Photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

It was Sept. 8, 1985, and the Chicago Bears had just given up 28 points in the first half of their first game of the season.

They trailed Tampa Bay 28-17 at home when a cornerback named Leslie Frazier changed the momentum of the game, and perhaps an entire season.

Frazier intercepted Steve DeBerg, who had been having his way with the Bears defense, throwing three first-half touchdown passes. Frazier went 29 yards the other way, scoring a touchdown as the Bears rallied for their first of 12 consecutive wins.

Those who remember the Bears team that went 15-1 en route to winning Super Bowl XX probably forgot that Buddy Ryan's defense gave up four touchdowns in its first two quarters of the season. That's because most of us consider that defense the best we've seen in our lifetimes.

It's also hard for us to fathom that this year's Bears defense might be even better than the 1985 version. That's something that Frazier, now the Vikings' head coach, and his staff, which includes former teammate and Hall of Famer Mike Singletary, get to face twice over the next three weeks.

It feels strange comparing any defense to the 1985 Bears, particularly before season's end. After all, Buddy's boys finished things off by shutting out the Giants (21-0) and Rams (24-0) before blasting the Patriots 46-10 in the Super Bowl.

However, through nine games ... well, you be the judge.

• Points allowed: 1985: 124. 2012: 133.

• Touchdowns allowed: 1985: 14 (11 passing, three rushing). 2012: 10 (eight receiving, two rushing).

• Average yards allowed: 1985: 298.6. 2012: 305.6.

• Takeaways: 1985: 30 (22 interceptions, eight fumbles). 2012: 30 (19 interceptions, 11 fumbles).

• Points scored: 1985: 16. 2012: 48.

The 1985 Bears had two interception returns for touchdowns and two safeties through nine games. This year's Bears have eight touchdowns. Eight. Heck, they have almost as many interception returns for touchdowns (seven) as passing touchdowns allowed (eight).

Only four cornerbacks have won Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year since the award was created in 1971. This year, the Bears have two corners -- Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman -- among the front-runners for the honor.

From 2006 to 2009, Jennings played 53 games for the Colts. He intercepted four passes. Since joining the Bears in 2010, he has 13 picks, including eight in nine games this season. He returned one of those for a touchdown while winning NFL Defensive Player of the Month in September.

Tillman has two picks and two touchdowns but isn't known for interceptions or scoring touchdowns. His uncanny ability to strip the ball -- which he's done seven times this season -- is what powered him to winning NFL Defensive Player of the Month for October.

Meanwhile, playing the modern-day linebacker roles of Singletary and Otis Wilson are Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Briggs has scored twice, Urlacher once.

Playing the role of five-time All-Pro right end Richard Dent is five-time All-Pro Julius Peppers. Dent had 137 1/2 sacks in 15 seasons. Nine games into his 11th season, Peppers has 106 sacks, including six this year.

Is it too early to say this year's defense will be as good if not better than the Bears' 1985 version? Yes.

Is it too early to start thinking about the possibility? Absolutely not.

In other words, heads up, Leslie. In 1985, your Bears had 10 takeaways -- including eight interceptions -- in two games against the Vikings.

  • related content

  • Mark Craig's Northern Intelligence

    Saturday November 17, 2012

  • Fourth-and-five

    Saturday November 17, 2012

    • Brandon Jacobs tweets, "Never work in a place where you hate your boss ..." and then argues he wasn't talking about Jim Harbaugh. Riiight.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: D. O`Day 3
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 28 FINAL
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 9/15/14 7:30 PM
Indianapolis
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
UCF 10 FINAL
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
UNLV 34
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
ULM 0 FINAL
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close