1985 Bears Coverage: Bears loss offensive to Ditka

SHARE 1985 Bears Coverage: Bears loss offensive to Ditka
SHARE 1985 Bears Coverage: Bears loss offensive to Ditka

Every day of the 2015 Chicago Bears season, Chicago Sun-Times Sports will revisit its coverage 30 years ago during the 1985 Bears’ run to a Super Bowl title.

Bears loss offensive to

Kevin Lamb

Originally published Aug. 18, 1985

The fans behind Mike Ditka didn’t like much of anything they saw in the Indianapolis Colts’ 24-13 pre-season victory over the Bears last night at Soldier Field.

“They were hollering at me, `Shave your mustache.’ `Change your hairstyle.’ `Take your tie off,’ ” the Bear coach said.

It was his only comic relief of the night. “I think it’s a little bit too early to dig your grave and put your tombstone on it,” Ditka said.

Still, two defeats in two pre-season games showed Ditka enough to say, “We’re far from where we have to be. I think we’re a little further than we were a year ago.”

The Bears have scored one touchdown in eight quarters. Their 15-for-35 passing – worse than 45 percent for the second week in a row – came largely because receivers were dropping the ball.

The Bears crossed their opponents’ 20-yard line only twice, including the 35-yard touchdown pass from Steve Fuller to Jack Cameron.

If their offense isn’t dead, it’s at least sound asleep. The drowsy play bothers Ditka more than the poor play, which he can attribute to the early date.

“I’d just like to see a little more of that chip on our shoulder like we had last year,” Ditka said. “Maybe it’ll come. Maybe it distracted them, breaking camp from Platteville.”

“It’s time to stop the excuses,” fullback Matt Suhey said. “We’ve got Dallas ahead of us next week. Then the season’s two weeks away. It’s time for us to live or die. If we don’t start building our opportunity now, we’re going to get left in the blocks.

“The offense has a lot to prove. We still don’t have the hungriness we need.”

There are reasons. One is the nature of a pre-season game plan.Teams don’t try for the variety that is necessary to confuse defenses. They concentrate on specific aspects of the offense.

Walter Payton has carried the ball once in two games. He played one possession last night and said, “I kind of snuck out on the field” to do that.

The Bears are saving him for the games that count. They always do. That’s one reason they always start slowly in August.

Since 1981, they’ve gone 2-8 in their first two exhibitions. They’ve rebounded to 5-3 in their last two.

“We miss Walter,” Suhey said. “You can’t belabor that point. And we’ve come close to breaking a lot of plays. That’s good. But that’s what everybody says. We’re getting to the time where coming close is not going to count anymore.

“We’ve got a lot of talent on offense. Maybe the offense can be what the defense was last year. It’s just a matter of working harder.”

Added pressure

With three key defensive players holding out, it has become more clear by the day that the offense will have to haul a larger load this season. But even without safety Todd Bell and linebackers Mike Singletary and Al Harris, Ditka said the defense more than held its own against the Colts.

“I saw some Bear defense again,” he said.

The first unit gave up only seven of the 24 points, the 32-yard touchdown run that put the game away at 24-13 with 10 seconds left in the third quarter. The play was a double reverse. When former Lion Robbie Martin turned the left corner, he had nothing ahead of him except two blockers and cornerback Leslie Frazier.

“That’s what a smart team does against aggressive defenses like us,” linebacker Otis Wilson said.

Dent faked out

“They sucked me in,” right end Richard Dent said. “We were behind. We were anxious to get in the backfield. I went too far. I smelled a rat, but I didn’t exactly catch it.”

Aside from the touchdown drive, the first-string Bear defense took the field seven times in the first and third quarters. It made only one sack, but it allowed only three first downs.

“Every week, these guys new starters Wilber Marshall, Brian Cabral and Dave Duerson are learning more and more,” defensive tackle Steve McMichael said.

“It’s getting there,” Wilson said. But then he mentioned something Bear management wishes the players would forget about, something that is on most of their minds. “It’s still going to take the rest of the

fellas,” Wilson said.

The Colts began putting the game away soon after the Bears’ backup defenders began playing in the second quarter. On two straight possessions, quarterback Mike Pagel completed 6-of-8 passes for 104 yards.

Frank Middleton’s one-yard touchdown run made it 7-0 53 seconds into the second quarter. The Colts went ahead 14-3 on George Wonsley’s 17-yard run 5:21 before halftime.

Freak kickoff

They made it 17-3 at halftime on Raul Allegre’s 44-yard field goal, which he set up with a bad kickoff. It landed on the Bear 16, in front of rookie return man Ken Taylor. But it bounced back toward midfield and into the arms of Colt Mark Kafentzis at the 20.

Taylor’s 32-yard kickoff return to the Bear 45 had ignited the scoring drive that cut Indianapolis’ lead to 7-3 on Bob Thomas’ 44-yard field goal. After Cameron’s touchdown, rookie challenger Kevin Butler’s 35-yard field goal made it 17-13 with 8:33 left in the third quarter.

Another impressive rookie was Mike Tomczak, in a spirited battle with rookie Ken Cruz for the No. 3 quarterback job. Tomczak was 1-for-5 in the fourth quarter, but 4-for-5 for 56 yards in his 3 1/2-minute

appearance before halftime.

The punting battle is less interesting. “We don’t have a punter,” Ditka said. He plans to bring in more challengers for Dave Finzer’s job.

Finzer averaged 33.3 yards on three punts. Colt punter Rohn Stark averaged 53.8 and sent two kicks more than 80 yards in the air with a 12-m.p.h. wind.

“I’m running out of time to come out of this slump,” Finzer said.

And as Suhey said, so is the Bear offense.

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