Bears

After long wait, Dent earns Hall of Fame entrance

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After long wait, Dent earns Hall of Fame entrance

Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011
Posted 6:39 p.m. Updated 9:15 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Its about time.

That was the feeling of former teammate Ron Rivera, the new head coach of the Carolina Panthers, and probably the sentiment that best sums up the feeling about Richard Dent being elected Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Dent heard the news from his daughter via phone call and we had some tears over it all, Dent told CSNChicago.com. I had my knee on the floor and my head on the bed. Your heart kind of skips a beat when it finally happens. But it was worth the wait.

He was arguably the greatest player on the greatest single defense in the history of the NFL. And on Saturday the NFL agreed, as Dent joined running back Marshall Faulk, cornerback Deion Sanders, NFL Films legend Ed Sabol, tight end Shannon Sharpe, linebacker Chris Hanburger and linebacker Les Richter, who died last June, in the Class of 2011 for pro footballs highest individual honor.,

WATCH: Former teammate Tom Thayer reacts

Dent was a finalist nine times before finally gaining the necessary votes from the group of electors. But if there were bitter feelings in the past for not being selected, they were nowhere to be found this time.

Its just a great, great feeling, Dent said. It couldnt have been any better, to have your career recognized. And Im so grateful for all of my teammates who were so much a part of everything.

Few once would have projected Dent to reach the Olympus of his game. He never played football before his junior year of high school because he was forced to work to help the family make ends meet. He went on to play at Tennessee State and catch the eye of Bears scout Bill Tobin, who lobbied for the team to grab him in the second round of the 1983 draft.

Then-GM Jim Finks resisted and the Bears finally grabbed Dent in the eighth round along with Iowa defensive tackle Mark Bortz, who would go on to Pro Bowl honors as a guard on the great 1980s Bears teams.

The Bears spent 5,000 on dental work for the 227-pound pass rusher, who wasnt able to add weight because of problems that made eating an ordeal.

What they got for their investment was, now officially, one of the greatest players in NFL history.

Dent joins endtackle Dan Hampton and linebacker Mike Singletary from the great Bear defenses of the era in the Hall of Fame. Walter Payton was enshrined in 1993.

WATCH: Moon on Dent's impact on the game

In 12 seasons with the Bears, Dent accumulated 124.5 sacks in 170 games. In eight of those seasons, Dent finished with more than 10 sacks and finished with a career-best 17.5 in 1984.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Did the Bears technically "win" on Sunday?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join Kap on the panel.  Kap is happy that Mitch Trubisky played ok and John Fox’s team lost again.  The panel disagrees.

Plus Leonard Floyd doesn’t have an ACL tear…. Yet. Should the Bears shut him down even if he gets good news?

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

Bears need Mitch Trubisky to become a closer, but teammates see it coming

With Sunday’s game on the line and the Bears owning the football at their 17-yard line, the offense needed a drive for field goal position to tie the Detroit Lions. But rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, with 1:03 on the clock, wasn’t thinking 3 points. He was thinking touchdown and a win, and the huddle knew it.

“I think that's his mindset all the time,” said guard Josh Sitton, who recognized something familiar in Trubisky’s face that Sitton had seen over his years with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. “He's a play-maker, he's got all the confidence in the world in himself and the guys around him.

“You can just see it on his face. I don't think he really says anything, he doesn't really need to say anything, you can kind of see it, by that look in his eyes. He's got what it takes to be a great player in this league.”

It was not intended to be any even remote comparison with Rodgers. More than eyes are involved in that. But while the drive Sunday ended in failure in the form of a missed field goal, something was noted in the process.

The 13-play drive for the Bears’ first touchdown Sunday was the longest sustained by the offense under Trubisky. And it was a statement possession for an offense that had not scored a first-quarter touchdown in nine prior games.

But if a negative among the many Trubisky positives was the fourth time in five situations that Trubisky has failed to direct a game-winning or –tying drive, which goes a long way to answering why the Bears are 2-4 under him. Actually the number of come-up-short drives is more than those if you count things like a three-and-out at Baltimore in regulation before Trubisky led a seven-play drive for a winning overtime field goal.

Still, looking a little deeper, Trubisky has gotten progressively “closer” to being the kind of finisher that the Bears have needed for decades. At the very least, Trubisky is keeping drives alive longer and longer, if not ending them with points. In these situations:

Vs.                     4th qtr/OT situation

Minnesota         1 play, interception ends potential winning drive

Baltimore          3 plays, punt, regulation ends in tie

                           7 plays, game-winning FG in OT

Carolina            Game already decided

New Orleans    2 plays, interception ends drive for tie

Green Bay        5 plays, ball over on downs on drive for tie

Detroit               11 plays, missed FG for tie

Within the huddle, the team confidence in Trubisky and vice versa has clearly grown, regardless of outcome, and that is something the offense did not consistently have in Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Clausen or even Josh McCown.

“[Trubisky] is just growing and growing and you just see it,” Sittyon said. “You saw the talent right away and he just keeps ... the nuances of the game, he just keeps learning and learning. He gives you all the confidence in the world as a guy in the locker room and on the field, in the huddle.

“He has that look in his eye where you're thinking 'All right, he's going to get the job done.’”

Staff addition? Probably not but Bears have an opening

Taking a morning-after look around the NFL after the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions:

Something to probably dismiss but at least worth mentioning… .

The Denver Broncos on Monday fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, the same Mike McCoy who handled the Denver offense as John Fox’s OC. Don’t expect anything in-season, certainly not at this point, but the situation does offer an interesting future option if somehow Fox sees the fourth and final year of his contract, even looking further down the coaching road irrespective of Fox’s presence.

McCoy was ousted from a foundering Broncos situation, presumably over not being able to make anything much out of Trevor Simian

McCoy, who was the mix of candidates and interviewed to succeed Lovie Smith back in 2012, wouldn’t necessarily be brought in as offensive coordinator by Fox or anyone else. What about the role of “consultant” or “assistant head coach” added to the Bears offensive staff?

The Bears have neither position on the staff currently, and haven’t had an assistant head coach since Rod Marinelli had that as part of his title from 2009-2012 under Lovie Smith. Marinelli, like McCoy, had been a head coach as well.

Notably, Fox kept McCoy on his staffs when Fox was hired both in Carolina and Denver, a good measure of Fox’s take on McCoy’s offensive-coaching skills. Fox added the job of passing-game coordinator to McCoy’s duties as quarterbacks coach with Carolina in 2007-08. Since then McCoy coached Peyton Manning in Denver and Philip Rivers in San Diego.

Also notably, perhaps in the other direction, Fox might have brought McCoy to Chicago after the latter was fired as Chargers head coach after last season. That didn’t happen, possibly because McCoy instead wanted a full OC position, which wasn’t open with Loggains in place.

Offensive consultants aren’t necessarily staff bloating; they have been referred to as “coaches for coaches.” Bruce Arians brought in longtime OC Tom Moore when Arians became Arizona Cardinals head coach (following Phil Emery’s decision to go with Marc Trestman over Arians). Moore previously served as offensive coordinator, then senior offensive coordinator, then offensive consultant through the Peyton Manning years in Indianapolis. Moore subsequently became offensive consultant for the Jets (2011) and Tennessee Titans (2012), the latter stint while Loggains was offensive coordinator.

Longtime offensive line coach Jim McNally has been a “consultant” with the Jets (2011-12) and Bengals (2012-this season). Randy Brown was a kicking consultant working under Bears special teams coaches in the Dave Wannstedt and Dick Jauron regimes, going on to work under John Harbaugh in Philadelphia and Baltimore.