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 have had Bucs’ number
Originally published Sept. 8, 1985
One of the reasons the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new coach is that they haven’t been able to beat the Bears.
Leeman Bennett will try to do what John McKay couldn’t do the last four times he faced Mike Ditka’s Bears. The Bears haven’t lost to the Bucs since the season finale of Ditka’s rookie season, 1982.
Since then, the Bears have had the Bucs’ number in victories of increasing magnitude: 17-10, 27-0, 34-14, and 44-9.
Scoring has been a concern of Ditka’s all summer and the Buccaneers could prove the cure. Not only do they come to Chicago for the first time without McKay, they come for the first time without defensive cornerstone Lee Roy Selmon.
The Bucs welcome the return of OLB Hugh Green, who missed much of last season with an injury suffered in an auto accident.
The Bears welcome back QB Jim McMahon, who was knocked out of the second half of last season with a kidney injury. He has been the QB the Bucs have not been able to beat since 1982.
The Bears are missing two defensive regulars who are holding out for more money, Pro Bowl SS Todd Bell and OLB Al Harris. Both were instrumental in the Bears’ rise to the No. 1 defense in the NFL last season. If the Bears cannot contain Tampa Bay RB James Wilder, the bargaining position of Bell and Harris could rise.
WHEN BUCS HAVE BALL – QB Steve DeBerg has enjoyed an accurate preseason, but the team’s point production decreased over the summer. When Wilder isn’t testing the Bears’ run defense, DeBerg will try to
isolate WRs Kevin House and Gerald Carter.
WHEN BEARS HAVE BALL – Walter Payton appears ready to stretch his all-time rushing record against anyone he plays. He has shown no signs of slowing down at age 31. But McMahon’s return and Ditka’s goal of scoring more points suggests that the Bears will throw more than ever. They will come at the Bucs with a variety of formations, including two tight ends to try to nullify Hugh Green.
BUCS ON DEFENSE – Ditka describes Bucs as looking like the swarming Atlanta defenses under Bennett in the late ’70s. There are question marks, however. Selmon’s replacement, No. 1 draft choice Ron Holmes, played only two quarters all preseason because of an Achilles injury.
BEARS ON DEFENSE – Wilber Marshall replaces Al Harris at LB. Harris did good job against Tampa Bay TE Jimmie Giles. Dave Duerson replaces Bell at SS. And Bells’ forte was stuffing runners like Wilder. But Pro Bowl right side of Bears’ front four, end Richard Dent and tackle Dan Hampton, should be able to take advantage of left side of Bucs’ offensive line. Bears play pressure defense that enjoyed more feasts than famines last season.
LAST-MINUTE FACTORS – Bears outside linebacker Otis Wilson is nursing a knee injury that could keep him sidelined. Former San Diego veteran Cliff Thrift would start. If Holmes can’t play for the Bucs, Bennett said Chris Lindstrom would start.