Bears

Dent: 'This is my time to shine'

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Dent: 'This is my time to shine'

Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011
2:47 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Seeing Richard Dent standing at a Halas Hall podium Wednesday, to honor his selection last weekend as a member of the Hall of Fame, was somehow personal. And it should be.

It was obviously personal for Richard, who suffered through slights the more than half-dozen rejections he received in the form of not receiving enough votes for induction. I was very, very thirsty for it, the Colonel acknowledged, as he seemed to reflect that he was the first Hall of Fame selectee from Tennessee State, a small school with a distinguished history of turning out NFL-grade players over its more than 100 years.

I dont take that lightly, Richard said, noting that he is leaning toward his college coach, Joe Gilliam Sr., to be his presenter in Canton next August. Of course, hell have to work that out with daughter Mary, a student at Valparaiso who also would like the honor of presenting her Dad.

Dent never took anything lightly about his craft, and thats part of what was running through thoughts Wednesday. One of the most memorable stories Ive had the pleasure of doing was a two-part package on the art of the pass rush, which was done nearly a couple decades ago with Richard sitting down over a long period of time and describing in intricate detail how he did what he did.

He described foot angles (his and offensive linemens), leverage, weight transfer, hands all of the elements that went into his becoming one of footballs all-time greats at his craft, with 137.5 sacks.

These years later you appreciate even more what defines greatness, and it is far more than simple talent. If you become a student of the game, Dent said, the game becomes easy.

Dent laughed Wednesday recalling a recent phone chat with Mike Singletary, who insisted that Dent never studied. I told Mike that some of us just have a gift, Dent said, laughing.

That gift included Dent playing some defensive back at practice, to maximize his legendary agility and speed. Gift? Amazing how gifted people also seem so often to out-work everyone else.

Pass rushing is like pitching baseball, Dent told me. You throw balls; you throw strikes. You set people up.

If the game seemed easy for Dent, part of that was because of that unseen work. He once told me that the best offensive tackles he ever saw were Lomas Brown, longtime Detroit Lion, and teammate Jimbo Covert, partly because they studied him so well too.

I played against all the great tackles, Dent said Wednesday, and no disrespect to anyone, but Jimbo Covert was the best I ever faced.

He once said that after facing Covert all week in practice, games were easy.

A road with turns

To see Dent honored at Halas Hall was a time to exhale as well. He and the Bears had a rough parting back in 1994, with the Colonel earning free agency by reaching a sack incentive in 1993, then being told to stay away from the Bears weightroom facilities because he was a distraction.

The Bears held the door open for Dent to re-sign until the night before the 1994 draft, when they decided they could wait no longer and instead drafted John Thierry to replace Dent.

The Bears even brought Dent back briefly during the 1995 season, a return that lasted all of three games in part because he kiddingly referred to defensive line coach Clarence Brooks as Rook, which the coach didnt take well to. At times Dent made unhappy, frustrated comments about the Bears seeming lack of support for his Hall of Fame case.

The Super Bowl MVP honor that Dent accomplished in XX was the capstone of a season that nearly didnt happen. He, Singletary, Todd Bell and Al Harris were on track to be holdouts prior to the 85 season. Singletary felt that promises were made and broken by management. Dent was coming off an epic 17.5-sack season, had a year on his contract but wanted an insurance policy to protect him against an injury in the course of the 85 preseason.

Dent and Singletary made their peace with the Bears and entered into history. Bell and Harris became unfortunate footnotes to that season.

Not alone

But all of that was pleasantly in the past, in closed chapters of Richard Dents football life. NFL justice was finally served with his selection and one of the high points of Richards time Wednesday was the long, long accounts of people who helped him, and who would say vice versa.

There was Covert, Singletary, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael and so many of his teammates. One he unfailingly mentions is Mike Hartenstine, from whom Richard learned so much about the use of hands that became part of Dents excellence.

You can never get here by yourself, Richard said. This is the first award for my career, and it doesnt get any better than this.

Life can get cloudy sometimes, but I guess this is my time to shine.

Amen.

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.

View from the Moon: Bears 'siestas' continue, leaving progress difficult to find, but it’s there ... somewhat

View from the Moon: Bears 'siestas' continue, leaving progress difficult to find, but it’s there ... somewhat

Consider this a connect-the-dots exercise, with the end game being to figure out what the overall picture is. Because the Bears’ 27-24 loss to the Detroit Lions was many things, a couple actually very good, but too many of them kinda-to-very bad...

The overarching point of the 2017 season, per senior Bears management, is progress. Not just on the part of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who had a fourth solid performance in six NFL starts; but on the Bears as a whole. A week after showing anything but, the Bears showed something that could masquerade as progress.

How real is it? The Bears in the past eight days have given few reasons to trust it.

Because while coming close against a respectable Lions (6-4) team counts for something, the Bears are still 3-7 at the end of the day and 3-13 under John Fox against the NFC North – a division winning percentage of .188, which would be lower than that of the Marc Trestman Bears (.250), who managed to win their three NFC North games in two seasons vs. Fox’s three.

As concerning perhaps, the loss left the Bears 3-9 under Fox in games decided by three or fewer points, the hallmark of what simplistically can be ID’d as “losing” teams.

“We’ve had a lot of close games, and it’s just finding a way to close those out,” Trubisky said. “We’re going to work towards that, and figure it out for sure.”

What makes “progress” difficult to see, though, is that the Bears do not play like a team either coached to be or with the proven ability to play at a professional level all the time. Teams with that problem typically make coaching changes at the ends of seasons, since the conclusion usually is that the talent can be there, just that the coach in hand, fair or not, can’t get it out of the roster.

“We’ve shown spurts and moments, like we have for some time now,” Fox summarized. “But we have lulls. We have siestas. We just don’t do it for 60 minutes. ... People have ups and downs. Well, we’re in a stage as a football team where we have those moments in games. We have to do a better job of coaching it and we have to do a better job of executing it in games.”

The Green Bay Packers were one kind of measuring standard last week, and the 3-7 Bears were embarrassed against a foundering team that had been soundly beaten by the Lions the week before the Bears faced them, and buried 23-0 at home Sunday by the Baltimore Ravens.

The Lions were a different kind of quiz, a real offense putting up more than 27 points per game. The Bears allowed the Lions their requisite 27 points (seven of those coming on a touchdown return of a Trubisky fumble), but put up nearly 400 yards and 24 points of their own in a game that ended on a Connor Barth missed field goal from 46 yards, Barth’s fifth miss in 11 attempts from beyond 40 yards.

(Barth’s miss may have been particularly bitter for Fox, after watching Detroit’s Matt Prater win the game from 52 yards – the same Matt Prater who kicked for Fox in Denver in 2011 when Fox’s Broncos beat the Bears in the Marion Barber Game with Prater field goals from 59 yards to tie with 3 seconds left, and from 51 yards to win in OT.)

“All these games in the NFL – they’re hard games – but when you have a game like this that you should win, you just have to win those games,” said wide receiver Kendall Wright. “I think with us, when we win one of those close games, it will help us get over the edge and we’ll start stacking them up on top of each other.”

Then again...

The Bears seemed to lose their compass in the third quarter, with one rushing yard on four attempts. But they finished with 222 yards and the way they amassed them mattered: 125 and a touchdown for Jordan Howard; 53 for Trubisky, a number of them on designed runs; and 44 plus a TD for Tarik Cohen – all combining to average 7.4 yards per carry.

Bigger picture, the Bears were in the position of having at least a chance to tie because Trubisky managed to drive the Bears 55 yards in the final 1:32 from the Chicago 17 to the Detroit 28. This would constitute something shiny lying there in the mud, and make no mistake: This is a big deal.

To put Trubisky in some kind of context: Rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman, the fifth-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, replaced Tyrod Taylor in the Bills starting lineup Sunday, against a Los Angeles Chargers defense allowing opponents to complete more than 64 percent of their passes. Peterman completed 11 of 14 in the first half, about 79 percent. But – five of the Peterman “completions” were to Chargers.

DeShone Kizer has been in and out and back in the starting lineup for the Cleveland Browns, suffering through a rookie season with one of the worst teams arguably in NFL history. But – Kizer, with 12 interceptions vs. four TD passes, is one of the reasons the Browns are in various “worst ever” discussions.

Trubisky threw 30 passes without an interception on Sunday, and 65 without a pick over his past two games. He’s thrown 145 NFL passes with just two interceptions, an INT rate of 1.4 percent that ranks ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Matt Ryan and a list of others. Critics of his development can have their points, but the kid has learned ball security at an early NFL age even while averaging 32.4 pass plays per game.

The next step is getting his team over the top, because he is still completing just 53.1 percent of his passes and was missed badly on a number of throws on Sunday. His deft TD pass to tight end Adam Shaheen in the first half was NFL-perfect (where his guy or nobody catches it), but his throw low and behind running back Benny Cunningham at the goal line in the first quarter forced the Bears to settle for a field goal in a game decided ultimately by three points.

Trubisky clearly gets the big picture, too, pointing the thumb and not any fingers. He paused before answering a question about his rookie learning curve:

“I think adversity is a great teacher,” he said. “Overcoming the struggle is a great teacher. There’s no rookie excuse. You don’t get a freebie because you’re a rookie.

“My teammates trust me and they have confidence in me, so I’m preparing as I should. Coaches have me prepared and my teammates have my back. New situations are going to arise every time, but there are no excuses. I’m just looking at these opportunities as chances to overcome, and not dwell on it.”

Under Center Podcast: Alex Brown goes off on Connor Barth

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Alex Brown goes off on Connor Barth

On the latest Under Center Podcast, Laurence Holmes, Alex Brown and Jim Miller break down the Bears loss to the Lions on Sunday following Conner Barth’s missed field goal in the last seconds of the game and debate whether or not Tarik Cohen should be a part of the Bears two-minute offensive packages.

Plus, if the Bears hope to keep Vic Fangio past 2017, does he need to finish out the season as the Bears interim head coach?

Listen to the full Under Center Podcast right here: