The Chicago Bears are mired in a decade of decline.
It was only 10 years ago when the team was at something of a peak. The Bears were Super Bowl participants in 2007, and looked to be in position to return again with a young and talented defense led by perennial Pro Bowlers such as Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Charles “Peanut” Tillman.
Head coach Lovie Smith and coordinator Ron Rivera were two of the NFL’s best defensive coaches at the time and the combination of Smith’s coverage schemes and Rivera’s aggressive playcalling made it difficult for opposing offenses to gain momentum and score points.
The offense was powered by Thomas Jones and a strong running game that was supposed to feature former first-round pick Cedric Benson as the second haymaker of a 1-2 backfield punch.
But then, reality hit. The Bears have made the playoffs only once since their Super Bowl run in 2007 ended with a loss to Peyton Manning and the Colts. Further, the team has as many winning seasons as it does years with double-digit losses – three.
What will the next 10 years bring? I’m as curious to find out as you are. But until then, enjoy your Saturday Bullets …
- Do you know who was the last Bears player to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl? Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune caught up with Muhsin Muhammed, who caught a 4-yard-pass from Rex Grossman to give the Bears their last lead of Super Bowl XLI. Campbell writes Muhammad is living a rich post-NFL life as a co-founder of a private equity firm in Charlotte. Muhammad says he still keeps an eye on the Bears, who are led by his former coach in Carolina – John Fox.
- Jordan Howard’s arrival at the Super Bowl week has inspired him to one day play in the biggest game of the NFL season. Howard told the Chicago Sun-Times, “It makes me want to play in the game a lot. Especially just watching the playoff games.” Howard added he has yet to meet or speak to his new running backs coach Curtis Modkins, but is looking forward to the opportunities 2017 will bring.
- On the defensive side of the ball, Akiem Hicks is the kind of player who can help Howard reach his Super Bowl aspirations. Hicks, who signed a free agent deal with the Bears a year ago was named the team’s Defensive Player of the Year. Hicks’ selection was a no-brainer after a year in which he set career bests in tackles and sacks.
- Speaking of free agency, NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith made waves when he jumped on WSCR 670-AM in Chicago and said the union would urge free agents not to sign with the Bears because of a workers compensation bill being pushed by the McCaskey family. The Chicago Tribune obtained a letter signed by all five Chicago sports teams – including the Bears – in support of the referenced bill, wherein they contend, among other things, that workers compensation rules have been applied too broadly with respect to professional athletes. Namely, current interpretation of the law assumes that professional athletes will retire around age 67, which we know is not accurate. Most importantly, the teams claim that nothing in the new bill would restrict athletes’ access to permanent or total disability payments. This story will likely have more back-and-forth volleying.
- Mike Vick announced his retirement from football on Friday. He was the first overall pick in the 2001 draft, who at his best was one of the game’s most electrifying players. A four-time Pro Bowler, Vick dazzled with his strong left arm and quick-twitch in the open field as a runner. He missed the two seasons in the middle of his career because of a suspension due to his admission of guilt in a dog-fighting ring and served 21 months in prison.
- If you weren’t impressed with Vick’s on-field performance, odds are his appearances against the Bears have something to do with that. His teams were 2-6 in eight games against Chicago, and Vick was 0-4 as a starter (0-2 at Soldier Field) and a main culprit behind the poor play. Vick threw more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3) against the Bears and posted a 72.5 passer rating in those games. He was sacked 16 times in those eight games and never scored a rushing touchdown. Chances are you are more familiar with Vick’s otherworldly talent in Madden ’04, in which he was the unstoppable cover athlete and possibly the greatest video game character of all time.
- The panel of judges have three prime candidates to choose from in the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, including former Bears tight end Greg Olsen, Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fizgerald, and Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams.
— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) February 3, 2017
- Twitter can be rough these days, but allow NFL players reading mean tweets sent to them to provide you with a laugh or two today: