Bears

Hard to argue that no ’85 Bears listed on Super Bowl's 'Golden Team'

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Hard to argue that no ’85 Bears listed on Super Bowl's 'Golden Team'

The debate as to where the 2015 Denver Broncos rank on the list of all-time defenses is amusing and, frankly, not worth a lot of commentary. The ’85 Bears, ’00 Ravens, ’86 Giants and others may be in the “best ever” discussion; not the Broncos.

But one slight of the “85 Bears is interesting. Consider it at most a small, unintentional case of adding insult to injury, and arguably justified.

On top of the failure of the 1980’s Bears to reach only one Super Bowl came the selection of “The Super Bowl 50 Golden Team” late last month by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That collection is made up of 22 Hall of Famers, and the Bears Super Bowl XX team has four players enshrined in the game’s pantheon, three from that ’85 defense.

But the number of Bears selected to the Golden Team is...zero.

[MORE BEARS: ESPN '30 for 30' on 'The ’85 Bears' more than just a memory exercise]

More than likely, the shutout is the result of reaching only that one Super Bowl. No member of the Golden Team played in fewer than two.

Despite these three members of the Super Bowl XX defense being Hall of Fame performers, a case for putting any of them ahead of the Golden Team choices is difficult, even based on an epic Super Bowl performance.

DE Richard Dent - The Colonel was the MVP of Super Bowl XX. But Golden Team member Reggie White, the left end on two Green Bay Super Bowl teams, had three sacks in the 1996 game vs. Dent’s 1.5, and White was simply one of the dominant players of his or any era.

The other Golden Team end was Charles Haley. As the only player with five Super Bowl rings, and with impact play in all of those wins, Haley is arguably the easiest call of all.

[MORE '85 BEARS: Super Bowl XX - 30 years later in a career covering the Bears]

DL Dan Hampton - Danimal was a factor at both end and tackle, particularly over the center in the “46” defense. But he does not edge out either Haley or White at end, and the defensive tackles were Joe Greene from the Steelers and Randy White from the Cowboys. White is a debatable selection, a co-MVP in one Super Bowl, and how he was chosen over Kansas City’s Buck Buchanan is for another time. But as dominant as Hampton was, he ranks below at least those three.

MLB Mike Singletary - Two words. Ray. Lewis. Two more. Jack Lambert.

[SHOP: Buy a Walter Payton retro jersey]

Former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden went against Greene, Lambert and those ‘70s Steelers teams. When I was working on “The Rise and Self-Destruction of the Greatest Football Team in History: The 1985 Bears and Super Bowl XX,” Madden was adamant that the ’85 group was the best he’d ever seen, including the Steelers.

But individually, one Super Bowl and some very, very good others are too much to overcome for ‘85ers to make the Golden Team.

Why coming to the Bears was the right opportunity for Harry Hiestand to leave Notre Dame

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AP

Why coming to the Bears was the right opportunity for Harry Hiestand to leave Notre Dame

There wasn’t a single game Harry Hiestand coached while at Notre Dame — 77 in total — in which he didn’t have a future top-20 pick starting at left tackle. 

Zack Martin (16th overall, 2014) was followed by Ronnie Stanley (6th overall, 2016), who gave way to Mike McGlinchey (9th overall, 2018). Hiestand also developed Quenton Nelson, who went on to be the highest interior offensive lineman drafted (6th overall, 2018) since 1986. Nelson and McGlinchey became the first pair of college offensive line teammates to be drafted in the first 10 picks since 1991, when Tennessee had tackles Charles McRae and Antone Davis go seventh and eighth. 

“It wasn’t surprising because the kind of guys they are, they absolutely did everything the right way, the way they took care of themselves, the way they trained, the teammates that they are and were,” Hiestand said. “They just did it all the way you wanted them to do it. So it was. It was a good moment.”

Hiestand said he had a sense of pride after seeing his two former players be drafted so high, even if he wasn't able to re-unite with either of them. The Bears, of course, didn’t have a chance to draft Nelson, and had conviction on using the eighth overall pick on linebacker Roquan Smith (as well as having tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie in place for the 2018 season). 

Anecdotally, one former Notre Dame player said (maybe half-jokingly) that Nelson and McGlinchey were fighting each other to see who could get drafted by the Bears to play with Hiestand again.

“There’s nobody that I’ve been around in this game that’s more passionate about what he does,” McGlinchey, now with the San Francisco 49ers, said of Hiestand at Notre Dame’s pro day in March. “There’s really only two things that are important to him, and that’s his family and then his offensive linemen. There’s a lot to be said for that. 

“In this game, everybody’s always trying to work an angle to up their own career — he doesn’t want to do anything but coach O-line, and that’s what really sticks out to us as players. He cares for us like we’re his own. Obviously he coaches extremely hard and is very demanding of his players, which I loved — he pushed me to be the player that I am.

“I’m standing in front of all you guys because of Harry Hiestand. But the amount of passion and care that he has not only for his job but his teaching abilities and his players is what sets him apart.”

Hiestand could’ve stayed as long as he wanted at Notre Dame, presumably, given how much success he had recruiting and developing players there. But six years at one spot is a long time for a position coach, especially at the college level, where the grind of recruiting is so vital to the success of a program. It’s also not like every one of the blue-chip prospects Hiestand recruited to South Bend panned out, either. 

So Hiestand knew he wanted to get back to the NFL after coaching with the Bears under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. It’s a new challenge for him now, not only to develop second-round pick James Daniels but to continue the growth of Cody Whitehair and Leno while getting the most out of Kyle Long, Massie and the rest of the group (back during his first stint with the Bears, Hiestand had the luxury of coaching experienced, more ready-made offensive lines). 

As one of the more highly-regarded offensive line coaches in the country, though, Hiestand could’ve jumped back into the NFL whenever, and nearly wherever, he wanted. And for him, coming back to the Bears was the perfect fit. 

“That’s an awesome, awesome place, a great franchise,” Hiestand said. “It was something, I always wanted to go back, I didn’t know where I would get the opportunity. So I’m just very fortunate it just happened to be back at the same place that I was before. There are a lot of things that are different but there’s also a lot that’s the same. 

“But it’s one of the — it is the greatest organization. Historically, this is where it all began, and being part of it — and the other thing, and I told those guys when I got here, when we get it done here, you guys are going to see this city like you’ve never seen it. And I remember that. That’s what we’re after.” 

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

Don't be fooled by Tarik Cohen's height. He has towering confidence and he's setting up to have a big role in coach Matt Nagy's offense in 2018.

“On a scale of 1-10, the dangerous level is probably 12,” Cohen said Wednesday at Halas Hall about the impact he can have in the Bears' new system. “Because in backyard football, it’s really anything goes, and it’s really whoever gets tired first, that’s who’s going to lose. I’m running around pretty good out here, so I feel like I’m doing a good job.”

Cohen proved last season he can thrive in space. He made an impact as a runner, receiver and return man and will have a chance at an even bigger workload this fall, assuming he can handle it.

With Jordan Howard established as the starting running back, Cohen knows his touches will come in a variety of ways.

“It might not necessarily be rushes,” he said. “But it’s going to be all over the field, and that’s what I like to do. Any way I can get the ball or make a play for my team, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Cohen averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry as a rookie and led all NFL running backs in the percentage of carries that went for at least 15 yards. He's a big play waiting to happen.