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1985 Bears Coverage: Bears to unveil surprise

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 to unveil surprise

Kevin Lamb

Originally published Aug. 17, 1985

Coach Mike Ditka has promised something new from the Bear offense in the 6 p.m. home exhibition tonight against the Indianapolis Colts. And no, he’s not talking about touchdowns.

“We’re going to run an aspect that we want very much to look at,” Ditka said, declining to be more specific. “Some things that really haven’t been a trademark of ours.”

Most likely, the wrinkle will involve passing. Ditka wasn’t any happier than the fans last year when quarterback injuries rendered his passing game as flat as a Kansas highway.

One type of pass the players have discussed promisingly is the sprint-out.

Last year, using a particular type of sprint-out only on third downs, the Bears completed more than 50 percent of their attempts with an average gain of nearly 18 yards.

The general emphasis on the passing game in training camp has been to use quicker patterns. The quarterback retreats only a few steps and throws the ball before the receiver breaks to it. Those plays require more precise pass routes than Bear receivers often ran last season.

Ditka also hopes to see receivers react to blitzes better. He expects to see a lot of blitzing this season and says the way to combat that is to complete passes.

“When the strong safety leaves the tight end to blitz, he’s got to read it and go to the vacated area,” Ditka said. “You can coach it all you want to and they can understand it, but it’s hard until you get out there and they actually can see and react to it.”

A touchdown pass would be novel enough for the Bear passing game, which out scored only the Colts last season. The Bears have worked considerably on passing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

In the 10-3 defeat at St. Louis last week, they crossed the 20 only once and had to settle for a field goal. The only other threat came when the Bears got a first down on the Cardinal 26, but regressed to a fourth down in Bear territory after two sacks and two penalties.

“We’ve got to get better and we know we’ve got to get better,” Ditka said of the pass protection. “But it’s all the things we can correct coaching-wise, and players can correct by improving on their
techniques.”

Starting quarterback Jim McMahon will play “almost a half because he needs the work,” Ditka said. Steve Fuller will play a quarter. Mike Tomczak and Ken Cruz will split the rest of the time in their battle for the No. 3 spot.

“Every day you look at them and you see one guy do something better than the other guy,” said Ditka, who has rated Tomczak slightly ahead of Cruz. “It’s just kind of unfair to evaluate a guy immediately.”

At wide receiver, Dennis McKinnon will play for the first time since his knee arthroscopy July 5. Ditka also hopes Ken Margerum will continue his comeback from last year’s season-ending injury.

Tight end Mitch Krenk’s back injury will leave lots of playing time for rookies Tim Wrightman and Don Kindt, Ditka said. They’re battling for the No. 3 job behind Emery Moorehead and Pat Dunsmore.
Ditka said he still hasn’t seen the dominant blocker he hopes to find at the position.

It will be the last game for 22 players, most of them rookies.

Rosters must be trimmed to 60 Tuesday.

But Ditka doesn’t feel compelled to play everybody. “We played everybody last week,” he said.

The game at Soldier Field will be broadcast live by WGN-AM (720) and telecast at 11 p.m. by WBBM-TV (Ch. 2).