Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Awesome Bears in the 1980s

When the Bears under Mike Ditka exploded into a winning football team in 1984 and then won the Super Bowl for the 1985 season, the following years held much promise.  But championships would elude them after one.  But championships aside, it's easy to forget the long term success that Mike Ditka's team had.  They were right up their among the best for several seasons.

The Bears went 10-6 during the 1984 season and then beat Washington in the divisional match and lost to the awesome 49ers in the Conference Championship, 23-0.  In the 49ers game, the Bears had most of the team that would lead them to a Super Bowl and although their numbers for the game were not great, there was much to be excited about.  Payton had more than 10 years playing time in, but  you could see him fly up from the ground after his rushes and hustle back to the huddle. Most of the Bears were young and getting better.  Announcing the game, were John Madden and Pat Sumerall, so even the game film today is pretty special.

Bears fan can recall the 1985 season with nothing, but excitement!  Although you may have worried about the season's ultimate outcome, you knew as the season was closing that the Bears were the best team in the NFL.  I remember the Bears game against the 49ers as a kind of flashpoint for the season.  The Bears beat the 49ers 26-10 and Jim McMahon's numbers were on a par with Joe Montana. Kevin Butler kicked four field goals. The Bears' defense held Bill Walsh's offensive numbers down.  The West Coast Offense looked a lot more Midwestern that day. As the Bears finished their season, they flattened teams with a will and confidence that was awe inspiring.  Their last several games were not even close.  The playoff's were runways.   The Bears were Super Bowl Champs!

In the six years that followed, the Bears were a contender in five seasons.  And I mean a contender! In 1986 and 1987, they lost to Washington in the playoffs. In the 1987 playoff loss, Washington beat them by 4 points and then they went on to win the Super Bowl.  In 1988, San Francisco would knock the Bears out.  In 1989 the Bears were not a playoff team.  In 1990, the Giants who would go on to the Super Bowl would beat them.  In 1991, Ditka's last playoff year with the Bears,  the Dallas Cowboys would knock the Ditka Bears out.

There was no single reason why the Bears could not repeat, but I suppose most Bears fan would say that they seemed to have some quarterback injuries at bad times.

If you think the Bears overpaid for Cutler, think about how the Bears may have done in the late 1980s with someone of his talent.  Cutler has given the Bears someone who can win some games against top talent, but the formula needs to be tweaked.  Will they get there soon?  Who knows.  But it was sure nice to look at Ditka's 1980s Bears and remember when they were one tough NFL team for much of the decade.