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Best Bears pass rushers: Dent is not at the top

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Best Bears pass rushers: Dent is not at the top

Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011
Posted 4:18 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

With the selection of Richard Dent in the Hall of Fame Class of 2011, the NFL electors acknowledged the accomplishments of the most destructive force on the greatest single defense in NFL history. Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary preceded Dent into the Hall but no one preceded Dent into backfields.

But was Dent the best pass rusher in franchise history?

CSNChicago.com combed fact books, available video and other sources to arrive at the top three pass rushers in the history of the NFLs charter franchise. The first two were easy. After that.

The guidelines are for pure pass rusher, not simply the best defensive linemen, although in the cases of Nos. 1-2, they also were the two best ever at the defensive end position. The evaluations also factored in the level of pass rush achieved by players also tasked with playing the run first. Many pass rushers were loosed on quarterbacks without regard for wholistic defense. Bears rushmen were not.

1. Doug Atkins

Big Man was nearly as notable in Bears lore for his antics and tweakings of Papa Bear as for that he did on the field.

But Atkins, like Dent, was the epitome of a player capable of being a dominant player in any era. Atkins was 6-8 and played between 260-280 pounds, with enough athleticism (he went to Tennessee on a basketball scholarship) to have literally hurdled a crouching New York Giants left tackle Roosevelt Brown, also in the Hall of Fame, on the way to sacking Y.A. Tittle.

Atkins was the Julius Peppers of his era; Peppers (6-7, 283) was good enough to be a reserve on the North Carolina basketball team.

NFL Network ranked Atkins No. 9 on its list of All-Time Pass Rushers (although the second half of the list approaches laughable for including Michael Strahan and Mark Gastineau and not Dent). He is No. 1 on CSNChicago.coms list of All-Time Bears Pass Rushers.

2. Richard Dent

The Colonels sack total (137.5) was only a portion of his greatness, which was not to be measured in Pro Bowls (four). He was a superb all-around force on the edge of a defense that was among the best ever against the run as well as obliterating quarterbacks.

Dent was a student of his craft as well as his opponents and mastered techniques that combined with a freakish speed in a pass rusher who was a mismatch against all but a few left tackles of his era.

3. (Tie) Steve McMichael, Julius Peppers

McMichael was the Bears equivalent of John Randle, the undersized Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame defensive tackle, with McMichael amassing 92.5 career sacks despite playing much of his career in a two-gap scheme. He put up nine seasons of seven or more sacks and set the standard for interior pass rushers in Chicago. He is what the Bears can only wish Tommie Harris had become.

Peppers has had just one Chicago season, making his inclusion a recognition of both what he has been and what he is the focal point of opposing blocking schemes. As with Atkins and Dent, if the tackle assigned to Peppers is left on his own, Peppers is virtually unblockable.

First alternate: Rosevelt Colvin

Trip was a fourth-round selection in the 1999 draft out of Purdue and for the period of a couple years was unquestionably the leading edge force in Chicago. He collected 10-12 sacks in both 2001 and 2002, making him the first Bear since Dent to post double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons.

What made Colvins production particularly remarkable was that he was a strong-side linebacker in the Bears two-gap 4-3 scheme under Greg Blache and Dick Jauron and was not an every-down pass rusher.

Colvin left via free agency for New England in 2003 but the body of work in his early years earned him inclusion on the Bears All-Decade Team along with Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher.

Bears footnote: Colvin beat out Urlacher for the starting strong-side linebacker spot in 2000 after coaches had given 54 the job on draft day.

Honorable mention (Nos. 5-10)

Dan Hampton, Mike Hartenstine, Alex Brown, Ed Sprinkle, Brian Urlacher, Doug Buffone.

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.

Bears James Daniels stands tall against NFL’s best DT Aaron Donald

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USA TODAY

Bears James Daniels stands tall against NFL’s best DT Aaron Donald

Rookie guard James Daniels laughed and shook his head in the aftermath of the Bears’ 15-6 win Sunday over the Los Angeles Rams:

Had he ever gone against a defensive tackle anything like Rams All-Pro Aaron Donald?

“I don’t think I’ve ever played a D-tackle like that one,” Daniel said. “He rushes unique compared to other defensive tackles. [Ndamukong] Suh plays like a lot of other tackles but just better than they do. But Donald is different.

“No defensive tackle I’ve ever played has played like that. He protects his chest and that’s why offensive linemen have trouble. You’re trying to ‘punch’ him but he protects and there’s nothing you can punch. He’s at an angle. That’s why he’s so good. If you really look at tape, you see how he protects, and he was doing a great job every play of keeping his hands inside.”

Daniel, who didn’t get his first NFL start until Game 7, has played every bit like the second-round draft choice he was this year. Against Donald on multiple occasions Sunday, he and right guard Bryan Witzmann faced a modern incarnation of similarly-undersized Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle.

The result was a win for the Bears and a game in which Donald, the NFL sack leader with 16.5 over 12 games, managed just one (of the Rams’ three for the game) hit on Mitchell Trubisky to go with one solo tackle and one assist. It was Donald’s least-productive 2018 day since Week 1 at Oakland.

Donald did beat Daniels on more than one occasion. But it’s what happened next that made perhaps an even greater impression.

Daniels recovered within the play, kept his physical and mental balance – “If you start panicking,” he said, laughing, “that’s not going to be good” – and kept Daniels at bay in pass protection and, along with Witzmann and center Cody Whitehair, moved the Rams tackle as part of the Bears amassing a season-high 194 rushing yards.

“He just kept his poise, stuck to his basics and technique, and against a guy like that, that’s what you gotta do,” Whitehair said. “There’s going to be ups and downs and it’s all in how you respond to it.”

Coach Matt Nagy saw the same: “One of James’ biggest strengths is if he happens to lose a little leverage he can recover, but for the most part he was very consistent. And man, for being such a young kid, very calm, composed and that was one of the big things we talked about as a team was to stay calm and composed and next play mentality, he did that.”

Daniels credits Whitehair, himself a fellow second-rounder, with helping him through the rough spots of acclimating to the NFL. Whitehair also was instrumental in executing a blocking scheme that dealt with a Rams front seven that included five No. 1 draft picks.

“That was one of the biggest challenges that he’s ever going to have,” Nagy said. “Not all the time, he was not going against him every play, but there’s times where he’s out there and Aaron has so many great moves. But I thought [Daniels’] technique was really good last night. He never lunged too much, he stayed balanced.”

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Cody Parkey got a police escort to practice, which is totally normal, right?

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USA Today

Cody Parkey got a police escort to practice, which is totally normal, right?

I don't know if this is a big deal, but it sure is a weird one. 

On Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Cody Parkey is getting police escorts to practice now? It reads:

The NFL has long used of police escorts, but a few years ago, the Bears were not receiving escorts to Soldier Field. The team has occasionally paid to have four Lake County sheriff's deputies lead buses from Halas Hall in Lake Forest to O'Hare. At the time, a Bears spokesman said the team gets the service "for public safety reasons and to maintain a secure environment.”

There is not currently a policy specific to the Bears regarding escorts, according to Illinois State Police, but the agency provides escort services for sports teams’ travel between airports, hotels, practice venues and game venues.

They later quoted Bears spokesman Brandon Faber saying that the escort was standard operating procedure for off-site practices.

It's been a weird season for Parkey and practices, as this is now the second time that his methods have come into the limelight. You may remember that time that people literally sent helicopters out to Soldier Field to watch him practice at night. 

His offseason vacation is going to be so, so long and so, so far away. 

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