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.
If the Bears can’t stop Dickerson, who can?
Originally published Jan. 12, 1986
Eric Dickerson runs well against everyone, but practically no one runs well against the Bears.
The Bears don’t want to hear about his tight end’s size and wide receiver’s speed. The Bears led the league in rushing defense the last two years. They’re embarrassed by Dickerson’s rushing yards against them – 127 in 1983 and 149 in 1984. Two touchdowns each time. Defeats each time.
“If it hasn’t been done, then our defense is going to be the one to say we can do it,” linebacker Mike Singletary says of holding Dickerson to, say, the 32 yards Joe Morris got last week.
They might have to contain Dickerson today to beat the Rams and reach the Super Bowl. To do that, they’ll have to shut down the play that opened Dickerson’s doors to the open field last season.
The Bears call it “Washington counter OT” because they saw it first against the Redskins. The back takes a false step toward the weak side, without the tight end. The guard and tackle pull from that side to lead the back toward the strong-side tackle. There, the back has a big enough blocking convoy to pick his hole.
“It’s the same play everyone else runs,” Bear defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan says. “Against the Rams last year, we quit tackling. That’s what killed us. The game plan wasn’t that good, either.”
Dan Hampton missed that game, too. He’s their best defensive lineman against the run. In the 4-3 defense, he’ll be the end near Dickerson’s off-tackle hole. In the 46, he’ll be in the middle, a key spot because of the Rams’ blocking nuance.
The Rams have David Hill at tight end. The Bears guess he weighs about 280. When he blocks toward the middle, the line collapses. But with Hampton in the middle, the offensive line usually topples outward.
“We’re going to have to get more people to the ball,” defensive tackle Steve McMichael says.
And after that?
“Just tackle him,” linebacker Otis Wilson says. “I’m not bragging, but I don’t think there’s one running back in the country who can do what he did against us last year.”