Last week, Bears safety Eddie Jackson was quoted on NFL Sirius XM Radio saying, “Shout out the ’85 Bears but we want to top everything they’ve done.” The star studded 1985 Chicago Bears have become synonymous with the culture of Chicago. Both the hardcore and casual football fan alike adore the team and remember the incredible 15-1 run as if it were yesterday. Many pundits declare the team as the greatest in NFL history, and they have a legitimate case.

So, is it possible for the 2019 Bears to surpass the mythical ’85 team? Should they even be worried about it? Every Bears team since then has been left chasing the legacy of 1985 and this year’s squad is no different.  “Our goal right now is for the defense to be no.1 across the board,” said Jackson. While the Bears certainly have the potential to finish first in most defensive statistics this coming season, surpassing the ’85 Bears would be an accomplishment for the ages.

In 2018, the Chicago Bears defense was largely considered the best in the NFL, finishing 1st in points allowed and 3rd in yards allowed (Pro Football Reference). Per NFL.com, they finished 1st in run defense (80.0 yards per game) and 7th in pass defense (219.7 yards per game). They tied for 3rd in team sacks, finishing with 52.0 while also leading the league in interceptions (27) and overall takeaways (36).

Over the course of the offseason, the Bears lost safety Adrian Amos, nickel corner Bryce Callahan and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. They replaced Amos with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a former 2nd team All Pro with the Green Bay Packers and signed Buster Skrine to fill the void of Callahan. In another huge move, former Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano was hired to call the defense.

So how does this year’s team stack up against the only Super Bowl champion in Bears franchise history? Well, for starters the ’85 team had 9 pro bowlers & 8 AP All Pros. The team also had 4 Hall of Famers.

  • Pro Bowl
    • QB Jim McMahon
    • RB Walter Payton*
    • C Jay Hilgenburg
    • LT Jimbo Covert
    • S Dave Duerson
    • DL Richard Dent*
    • DL Dan Hampton
    • MLB Mike Singletary
    • OLB Otis Wilson
  • AP All Pro
    • S Gary Fencik (2nd Team)
    • DL Dan Hampton* (2nd Team)
    • DL Steve McMichael (1st Team)
    • DL Richard Dent* (1st Team)
    • OLB Otis Wilson (2nd Team)
    • MLB Mike Singletary* (1st Team)
    • RB Walter Payton* (1st Team)
    • LT Jimbo Covert (1st Team)

*Denotes Hall of Famer                                                   Per Pro Football Reference

In contrast to this, the 2018 Chicago Bears had 8 Pro Bowlers & 4 AP All Pros.

  • Pro Bowl
    • KR/PR Tarik Cohen
    • S Eddie Jackson
    • CB Kyle Fuller
    • OLB Khalil Mack
    • DL Akiem Hicks
    • C Cody Whitehair
    • LT Charles Leno Jr.
    • QB Mitchell Trubisky
  • AP All Pro
    • KR/PR Tarik Cohen
    • S Eddie Jackson
    • OLB Khalil Mack
    • CB Kyle Fuller

The 1985 Bears defense ranked 1st in points allowed (198 total, 12.38 per game) and total yards allowed (4,135, 258.44 per game). They had the top ranked run defense allowing only 82.44 yards per game and the 3rd ranked pass defense allowing 176 yards per game through the air. The team recorded 64 team sacks while also recording a league leading 34 interceptions & 54 turnovers (per Pro Football Reference).

After a dominant regular season, the Bears somehow found a way to turn their game up even further, giving up only 10 points in 3 post season games. In other words, the 2019 Bears will have their work cut out for them if they are to surpass the best defense in NFL history.

While the 2019 Bears have incredible defensive talent across the board, to get on the level of the ’85 squad, the team will need a lot of guys to step up. Players such as Roquan Smith, Leonard Floyd, & Bilal Nichols will need to take their game a step or two even further if they are to take over the mantle of greatest defense/team of all time.

While surpassing the ’85 Bears is a fantastic goal to have, finishing with the best defense in 2019 is very attainable. Khalil Mack is coming off a full offseason rather than reporting a week prior to the first game. Roquan Smith has had his first full offseason as an NFL player. The team brought in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to replace Adrian Amos, a guy whom the front office has consistently graded higher for four seasons according to the team’s Director of Player Personnel, Josh Lucas.

 

The pieces are all there for the 2019 Bears. If the defense can pick up where they left off at the end of last season. There is no reason this team shouldn’t compete for the title of best defense in football & a potential Super Bowl.