Bears

Bears decimated by Rams in Madden '20 simulation

Bears decimated by Rams in Madden '20 simulation

Another week, another poor showing by the Bears’ offense. For the second week in a row in our Madden ’20 simulation, the Bears managed only 10 points on offense. They got off to a decent start, capping off their first drive of the game with a Mitchell Trubisky rushing touchdown. However, that was their only visit to the end zone all game. They attempted 3 field goals, but Eddy Pineiro only was able to hit one of them.

The Rams’ offense fared only slightly better. Jared Goff completed 21-of-27 passes for 147 yards and 1 TD through the air, and Todd Gurley and the Los Angeles run game was only able to account for 46 yards on the ground.

The difference in this game came down to special teams. The Bears had a punt and field goal blocked, both of which were returned for crucial touchdowns by the Rams. To add insult to injury, Aaron Donald sacked Trubisky in the end zone on the Bears’ final possession for a safety, capping off a 32-10 win for Los Angeles.

Tune into NBC on Sunday night to see if the real-life Bears can author a better fate for themselves.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

What would 1985 Chicago Bears look like if they played in 2020?

What would 1985 Chicago Bears look like if they played in 2020?

“We’re gonna do the shuffle then ring your bell,” sang Gary Fencik back in 1985. 

The updated lyrics in 2020 would be: “We’re gonna do the shuffle then get a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty.” 

Football today is a largely different game compared to when the Bears won their only Super Bowl in franchise history. You’ll see that when Super Bowl XX is aired on NBC this Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. But as I went back and watched some highlights ahead of catching the full game on Sunday, I wondered: What from the ’85 Bears would still work in the NFL today?

MORE: 10 crazy stats about the 1985 Bears

Talent, of course, transcends eras. Walter Payton would still be a great running back in 2020. Richard Dent would still be one of those pass rushers offenses have to gameplan around. Mike Singletary’s versatility, toughness and instincts would make him one of the league’s top linebackers. But that’s not what I was wondering. 

The Bears’ first offensive play of Super Bowl XX — on which Payton lost a fumble — came with two wide receivers, one tight end, one running back and one fullback on the field, otherwise known as 21 personnel. There was nothing odd about it back then. 

Only 8 percent of the NFL’s plays in 2019 used 21 personnel. 

The San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings were the only two teams to use 21 personnel on more than 20 percent of their plays, and both teams made the playoffs. Jimmy Garoppolo, remember, threw eight passes while the 49ers throttled the Green Bay Packers on their way to the Super Bowl back in January. 

Payton and Matt Suhey would’ve been just fine in today’s NFL running from under center quite a bit. But consider this: Jim McMahon’s passer rating in 1985 was 82.6, good for seventh-best in the league. Mitch Trubisky’s passer rating in 2019 was 83.0, ranking him 28th. 

How about Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense? 

I dug up this video we did a few years ago with Rex Ryan explaining his dad’s defense — which, while it turned out to be great at stopping the run, was actually designed to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Check it out:

The Bears’ defense in 1985 is, arguably, the best in NFL history. The Bears held opponents to 3.7 yards per carry and 12.4 points per game, the lowest averages in the league. Dent led the NFL with 17 1/2 sacks and, maybe the most mind-blowing stat of all: The Bears’ defense allowed 16 passing touchdowns and had 34 interceptions. 

But putting eight guys in the box doesn’t seem like a sound strategy in today’s pass-happy, 11 personnel-heavy league — a league that often forces defensive coordinators’ base packages to be in nickel. To wit: San Francisco’s Tevin Coleman faced the highest percentage of “loaded” boxes in 2019, with 40.2 percent of his 137 rushing attempts coming with eight or more defenders near the line of scrimmage. 

The Bears’ defense only had to defend multiple backs (i.e. a running back and a fullback) on 120 plays in 2019. 

So the 46 defense might not work in 2020. Then again, who would doubt Ryan’s ability to coordinate a good defense against today’s modern NFL landscape?

This is all building to my overarching feeling thinking about the 1985 Bears: They'd be fine in today's NFL. Greatness can transcend era. It might take a few tweaks and they wouldn't look the same as you'll see on NBC Sports Network on Sunday afternoon. 

But who am I to say one of the greatest teams of all time wouldn't be great in any era? 

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Lovie Smith, Mike Tirico discuss systemic racism, nationwide protests

Lovie Smith, Mike Tirico discuss systemic racism, nationwide protests

Old Bears friend and current beardless Illinois football coach Lovie Smith stopped by NBC's 'Lunch Time Live' to chat with Mike Tirico about the current protests taking place in cities all across the country. 

Smith talked about how he's always encouraged his players to take an active involvement in what's happening off the field, and also addressed what he feels should be the next steps taken. 

You can watch the conversation between Smith and Tirico in the video below: