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

Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 7:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 7:30 PM
Houston
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Golden State
Florida 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Colorado 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Carolina
Washington 6:00 PM
Columbus
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Montreal
St. Louis 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Edmonton 9:30 PM
San Jose
St Thomas (TX) 8 1st Half 10:35
Rice 16
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Canisius
Temple 6:00 PM
Delaware
FIU 6:00 PM
Long Island
Lehigh 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
South Alabama 6:00 PM
Richmond
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
South Florida
Ga Southern 6:00 PM
Stetson
Yale 6:00 PM
Vermont
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Virginia
Wright State 6:00 PM
Western Carolina
Nicholls 6:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Morgan State 6:30 PM
Rider
Idaho State 6:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oakland City 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Eureka 7:00 PM
Bradley
Appalachian St 7:00 PM
Charlotte
Connecticut 7:00 PM
Duke
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Coastal Carolina 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Montana State 7:30 PM
South Dakota
LSU 8:00 PM
UAB
Ohio 8:05 PM
Evansville
CS-Dominguez 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Walla Walla 9:00 PM
Idaho
DePaul 9:00 PM
Oregon State
Nevada 9:00 PM
Pacific
Portland State 9:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Bakersfield 9:05 PM
Utah State
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 69 2nd Half 1:05
Cleveland State 55
High Point 53 2nd Half 4:48
VA Commonwealth 66
Towson 45 2nd Half 9:08
Wake Forest 58
Presbyterian 20 2nd Half
Charlotte 24
Chicago State 29 1st Half 0:30
Bradley 31
Northwestern Coll 23 1st Half 0:03
Drake 52
Vanderbilt 12:00 PM
Marquette
Temple 4:00 PM
Howard
Southern Miss 4:00 PM
Ole Miss
UMBC 4:00 PM
Rider
Miami-Florida 5:00 PM
UCLA
St Mary-KS 5:00 PM
South Dakota
William & Mary 5:00 PM
Wofford
Troy 5:30 PM
Evansville
Loyola Marymount 6:00 PM
USC
St Francis-PA 6:00 PM
Duquesne
Indiana-Southeast 6:00 PM
IUPUI
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Detroit
Tenn Temple 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
West Virginia St 6:00 PM
Radford
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Ball State 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Trine 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Tenn Tech 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Samford 7:00 PM
Tulane
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Ark-Little Rock 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
CS-Northridge 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
Oregon
(19) Oklahoma St 8:00 PM
Weber State
Washington 8:00 PM
San Diego State
Cal Poly 8:00 PM
New Mexico
(10) Louisville 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close