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1985 Bears Coverage: Bear defense worried about Ryan departure

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.

Bear defense worried about Ryan departure

Dan Pompei

Originally published Jan. 17, 1986

If Buddy Ryan accepts a head coaching position with another team, the defense probably will become mediocre, according to Bear players.

That’s why they are hoping Ryan won’t listen to overtures from the Philadelphia Eagles or anyone else.

“It would be an irreplaceable loss to this team,” middle linebacker Mike Singletary said. “It would take a long time to recover from his loss.”

The inspirational loss alone could be staggering.

Don’t believe it?

Ryan said he would like to bring Singletary along if he left. Singletary says he’d like to go with him.

“He’s more than a coach,” said Singletary, who this week talked with Ryan about the possibility of him leaving.

“He’s a leader, a father and a friend. You want to win for the guy.”

Said defensive tackle Steve McMichael, “I think we’d just be another average pro football defense without Ryan.”

Bear coach Mike Ditka isn’t so sure one man can have such a profound effect on a team. Ditka said he didn’t know how good the defense would be without Ryan.

Ditka cited this year’s defense overcoming the losses of linebacker Al Harris and safety Todd Bell. The holdouts were considered key players before their replacements performed similarly.

If Ryan left, it also could mean a departure of the “46” defense. “Everybody in the league tries to copy it a little, but no one does it like Buddy does,” linebacker Wilber Marshall said.

Singletary says he has mixed feelings about Ryan leaving because the move could be good for Ryan.

The worrying is premature because Ryan said he will not interview until after the Super Bowl, if then.

Eagles owner Norman Braman asked Bears president Michael McCaskey Monday night for permission to talk with Ryan. McCaskey said he gave it, but understood the Eagles would interview Ryan Tuesday. They did not.

“It’s not a great desire of mine to be a head coach,” said Ryan, who was a finalist before the Indianapolis Colts hired Rod Dowhower last year. “If it happens, it happens and it’ll be great.”

Ryan said he is looking for a Super Bowl ring, not a job.

Turning his thoughts to the Super Bowl, Ryan questioned the New England Patriots’ alleged improvement on offense.

Ryan said the Patriots’ only difference from when the Bears beat them 20-7 Sept. 15 is the addition of guard John Hannah, who was injured and did not play.

“It’s hard for me to believe one offensive lineman can make that much of a difference,” Ryan said.

“They say they’re an improved team offensively. Well, we’re a much better defensive team than we were then.”

Marshall and strong safety Dave Duerson were starting their third and second games respectively against New England. Ryan said they have since blended into the defense.

Ryan pointed out the Bears’ defense ranked 25th in the league when it played the Patriots. Now the defense is first. But the No. 25 was based on the first game of the season in which the Bears allowed 28 points and 307 yards to Tampa Bay.