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.
16-0? Bears thinking about it
Originally published Oct. 29, 1985
Even though they are the NFL’s only unbeaten team at the halfway point, the Bears aren’t getting big heads.
And their coach, Mike Ditka, isn’t getting his nose out of joint over a survey that placed him among the three coaches NFL players would least like to play for.
“What really keeps it in perspective is a couple of years ago, when we were 3-5 at this point,” said tackle Jim Covert of the Bears’ 8-0 record. As for the pressure of being undefeated, Covert said, “I felt more pressure when we were losing.”
And while the Bears weren’t predicting a 16-0 season after Sunday’s 27-9 victory over Minnesota, they haven’t ruled it out.
“A lot of people are trying to say, `Maybe losing a game will prepare you better for the playoffs,’” Covert said. “I don’t think that way at all. Why not go 16-0?
“I’m not trying to make a prediction. But Mike says if we keep playing the way we can play, it’ll be hard for other teams to stop us.”
Ditka said he wasn’t surprised by the Bears’ start.
“If you were to speculate before the year started, yeah, to be undefeated after eight games is pretty farfetched,” Ditka said. “But I’m not surprised, and I’m not trying to be conceited or cocky. I think legitimately we’ve won them all. We didn’t back into any of them, and that’s a tribute to the guys. They’ve played hard.”
Covert and his offensive linemates, which fulfilled Ditka’s priority of keeping ailing quarterback Jim McMahon out of harm’s way, probably have played the hardest.
“I’ve never felt like this after a game,” said the oft-injured McMahon, who was unscathed. “I’m going to tell the linemen I’m hurt every week.”
But the Bears still see imperfections, and that’s why they won’t be surprised if their stunning success continues.
“To be truthful, after evaluating the films, you can see where we’re making mistakes,” linebacker Otis Wilson said.
“I don’t know if anybody can play a perfect game. But if we can eliminate some of the things we’re doing, we might really mess somebody up.”
Far from getting messed up over being named one of three coaches players would not want to play for, Ditka said, “I’m flattered.”
He said he liked the company he was keeping in a Sports Illustrated survey of 200 NFL players, who named Dallas’ Tom Landry as the coach they would least like to play for. Ditka was tied for second with Miami’s Don Shula.
He also discounted the source. “Those 200 probably couldn’t play for Tom or me,” Ditka said, “because they’re probably lazy. I can understand not wanting to play for me. I haven’t done anything.
“But a guy who’d say he wouldn’t want to play for Landry or Shula has got to be a lazy bum. Because those guys have won and won consistently. That means a guy’s either stupid, he doesn’t like winning or he doesn’t like extra money at the end of the year for going to the Super Bowl and the playoffs.”
Asked what might stop the Bears’ weekly victories, Ditka would only admit to the possibility of injuries and the certainty of the Packers Sunday in Green Bay.
“They’re probably licking their wounds after the last two weeks,” Ditka said.
“They’ll probably throw everything at us.”
One thing he isn’t concerned about, though, is the players’ heads getting too big for their helmets.
The coaches “tried to say something about it early in the year,” Ditka said, “and I think it has caught on, about every game being tough for us.
“The main thing we want to do is control the Central Division, and then let the chips fall where they want to fall.”
And if they happen to fall in New Orleans on Super Bowl Sunday, where the Bears cap off a 19-0 season, Ditka said, “Well, I think that’s a little farfetched, also. But stranger things have happened.”
Not in Chicago, they haven’t.