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Old 14.10.2014, 12:26 AM
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Default 1985 Bears

A question for old school Bears fans. I always hear the '85 Bears team mentioned as one of the best teams in NFL history.

So how come despite that recognition, did Chicago only win one Superbowl, Whereas the Redskins and 49ers enjoyed multiple successes during this period?

Did the team suddenly break up after that win, plagued by injuries or did the other contenders just get even better?
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Old 14.10.2014, 06:05 AM
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You could claim there are plenty of reasons why really..

Maybe if Ditka had come along before 1982 or maybe if Buddy Ryan didn't go off to coach the Eagles straight after SB XX.

For me that it was what that team had on offense...or more to the point didn't have. Walter Payton who was the focal point, was 30 years old, and whilst he was still a great RB he was past his prime and retired the following year. We also had Jim Mcmahon at QB, a Bears cult hero but not even in the conversation when talking about the great QB's of the 80's.

If we'd had a Marino or a Montana or a Kelly the Bears would probably have won more than one SB around that time.
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Old 14.10.2014, 10:33 AM
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I started to support the Bears in 1985 (after a tip from a good mate who was a Broncos fan). Believe me, it wasn't when they got to the SB but right at the start of the pre season, the word was that they were going to be special that year and how true that proved to be !

This was not a dynasty but a coming together of a truly great group of players on defence (especially) and a running back that has never been equalled in my humble opinion. Add Jim McMahon into the mix and something unique had been created. The break up in 1986 was painful and the departure of Buddy Ryan to the Eagles, a particularly big loss

I used stay awake at night to listen to the armed forces radio coverage of their games and it seems like only yesterday that this weeks opponent, the Dolphins, spoiled the party on a Monday night (?) by handing out a thumping in the last regular game of the season - Mark Clayton/Dan Marino - I seem to remember their names being mentioned a lot)

This weekend I complete a journey that started nearly 30 years ago to watch my beloved Bears at Soldier Field versus the very same opponent, it will be my first ever live game and I really can't wait

The defence is not the same - the offence is certainly not, but regardless I will be cheering on my new heroes to hopefully an important victory

Some sort of revenge for my lack of sleep on December 2nd 1985
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Old 14.10.2014, 04:01 PM
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Well in simple terms, it's hard to win a Championship.

The Bears peaked between 84-86. In 84 there were better teams. In 85 we won it. In 86 we went 14-2 and were imo the best team in football, but we were beaten by the Skins in the playoffs, it was a big upset though.

In 87 the window was closing and the strike really upset the season for everyone.

As was already mentioned, a great QB always helps. It's the same reason the 2000 Ravens only won one and 02 Bucs.
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Old 14.10.2014, 05:30 PM
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It'll be interesting to see what Football Outsiders make of the '87 and '88 Bears.

I remember the '87 team as as good as anyone in that second tier behind SF and maybe New Orleans, though one that won a lot of crazy games before a late-season meltdown in the final three weeks. In non-strike games they had the third-best record in the NFL at 9-3, lost to the AFC Champions on the road after missing two extra points and lost to the NFC Champions in the playoffs on a punt return. Cover that punt, and with SF out the day before, who knows?

They had a lot of close wins, a couple of close losses, and one humiliating dismantling by the 49ers. They were a lot of fun to watch - C4 featured the non-strike team seven times in twelve weeks, iirc - and somehow managed to prosper despite only having one game with a positive turnover ratio. To win your division at 9-3 with a -20 turnover ratio is amazing to me, even if you knock it down to -8 by removing the last three games.

In '88 we had the best record in the NFL and I feel like we were better, more consistent, and once again as good as anyone bar the late-season variety 49ers.

If we'd won the Super Bowl in either year it would have been no surprise.
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Old 14.10.2014, 06:21 PM
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Thanks for the responses, I do love to know more about the history.

Having looked closer at the season records I didn't realise they had so many near misses in the playoffs (usually to Washington & San Francisco) and so many impressive season records put together between 84-90.

Looks quite a similar story to the Colts over the past decade plus.
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Old 15.10.2014, 09:50 AM
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I think every generation has those loaded teams who just can't get it together. The Bears in the 80's were one of those teams. I think the QB situation made it more difficult but a lot of it is just luck or the odd bad game in the playoffs.

I tend to judge the greatness of team on the way they perform over a few years, as opposed to Championships. That's not to say the Championships are not by far the most important thing, they unquestionably are, but you can be a great team in an objective sense without getting the silverware to make you... a champion.

What I mean is, there have been lots of great teams, probably the best teams of their time who never quite achieved what they could have. But if the NFL were a league system would have been perennial champions. It just shows how hard it is to find a metric for greatness.

When I look at the 70's Steelers, 80's 49ers or 90's Cowboys those teams were not only the best teams all around but they beat everyone in the playoffs too and that is why they're the greatest teams ever assembled.

The 80's Bears can only ever be considered along teams like the early 90's Bills, 00's Ravens, 00's Bucs. Even recently you could look at Reid's Eagles as a team who had the talent but never put it together. My favourite team who never won enough were the Chargers under Coryell. Fouts was such a great QB. But you can be a really, really great team without being able to win championships.
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Old 15.10.2014, 12:01 PM
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I think a big part of it was also the injuries McMahon suffered after that '85 season. Although he may not have been in the same league as Marino, Montana etc he knew how to win and really struggled after that year.

That and bad luck against the Redskins
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Old 15.10.2014, 01:23 PM
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It would certainly have been a help if McMahon had been able to stay healthy during that 84-88 peak. Even in the 80's, when such things as "run-first" teams existed, it was a big handicap to have to play musical chairs at the position, year-in, year-out.

84 - five different QBs started for the Bears (9 McMahon, 4 Fuller, 1 Lisch, 1 Avellini, 1 Landry)
85 - two (11 McMahon, 5 Fuller)
86 - four (7 Tomczak, 6 McMahon, 2 Fuller, 1 Flutie)
87 - two in the non-strike games (McMahon 6, Tomczak 6)
88 - three (9 McMahon, 5 Tomczak, 2 Jim Harbaugh )

Over that period the team was 36-5 with him as the starter, 24-11 without.

Here's the (pretty disgraceful) late hit by Green Bay's Charles Martin that ended McMahon's season in 1986 and led to the team scrambling to find someone even semi-competent to play the position for the rest of the year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wilIF30NLRU&t=1m36s

Last edited by CharlieBear; 15.10.2014 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 27.10.2014, 10:05 PM
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For me, Singletary's comment that 'it was a group of guys coming together at the right time', sums it up. It was an extraordinary team - defined by the Cowboys' game and the two play-off shut-outs. Injury early in the Super Bowl lost them the momentum but just look at that D - the Pats had minus yardage in the third quarter! The O was good enough but the D was incredible. Again, as Singletary says - 'watch the film'. Payton is under-estimated - he could throw, block, run - and did it all in the '85 season - despite his age. I guess 'the best' needs clarification. Certainly the '85 team were unique and a one year wonder - but many of their records for that year still stand? Does it matter that they only did it for one year? It is not that they repeated the success that makes them one of the best but the manner in which they achieved that success - 'and then, like a comet, they were gone'.

America's Game put them at number 2. I can live with that - second to the Dolphins 'perfect season'.
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