Richard Dent

Richard Dent sees similar ‘rule of three’ between 1985, current Bears

Richard Dent sees similar ‘rule of three’ between 1985, current Bears

Colleague John “Moon” Mullin frequently references Richard Dent’s “rule of three,” as in: Every good defense needs to have three good pass rushers. 

For Dent’s 1985 Bears, that was him, Dan Hampton and Steve McMichael (Dent and Hampton went on to become Hall of Famers). And as Dent sees it, the current Bears have something similar. 

“When you look at it, (Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd) and then you got (Akiem) Hicks in the middle, you can’t double everybody,” Dent said this weekend at the Bears100 Celebration in Rosemont. “That’s just like us. To me, this team looks just like us in ’84, ’85 when we really started to jell to be the best we could be competing with one another.”

Mack, Hicks and Floyd combined for 24 sacks in 2018, and add Roquan Smith to that bunch and the Bears’ top four sack-getters had nearly as many sacks as the eventual Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (30). As a team, the Bears finished third in the NFL last year with 50 sacks. 

Dent, though, had a few words of caution for Mack: He’s getting to the point in his career where he can’t keep doing the exact same things he’s done so far, which has resulted in 53 sacks and three All-Pro appearances in five years. 

“There’s a lot of film out there,” Dent said. “So the point of it now is, people see things and this is where you have to judge and bring another wrinkle in your game. Because father time’s going to catch up. And when father time catches up, you have to have another wrinkle. And that wrinkle is going to have to take place between four and six years. If not, you’re doing the same things, people get it.”

That’s an interesting perspective coming from someone who averaged 14 sacks per season from 1984-1988 (his age 24 through 28 seasons), then averaged 10 1/2 sacks over his next five years (1989-1993, running through age 33). That production still got him into the Hall of Fame, of course, and the Bears surely would be pleased if Mack — whose contract runs through his age-33 season — averaged double-digit sacks for the duration of the largest deal for a defensive player in NFL history. 

Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary alluded to some more challenges for Mack coming down the road, too. 

“As we go forward, it’s going to get tougher, and it’ll be interesting to see how he overcomes some of those obstacles and how teams try to set him up,” Singletary said. 

Still, when asked which current player they liked watching, just about every Hall of Famer or Bears legend at last weekend’s Bears100 Celebration said Mack. 

“Are you kidding? No. 52,” Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus said only a few days after awarding the Pro Butkus Award to Mack at Halas Hall (Butkus also said he likes watching Roquan Smith, who won the collegiate Butkus Award while at Georgia). 

“How can you not say Mack?” Super Bowl-winning safety Gary Fencik said. 

But Dent’s perspective on Mack is particularly prescient, coming from one of the best pass rushers the franchise has ever seen. 

“He’s got leverage,” Dent said. “And he’s strong, he’s stronger than what you probably think. … I look at his size and physique and he looks like a natural old country strong boy that doesn’t really life any weights but naturally has the strength. But what I see is how he use the one-stab with his right hand. Again on the right side, it’s a little difficult, it’s different. The point of it is, I don’t know why they flip him so much, I think he’s better on the left and I think Floyd is better on the right and let it go. And if they’re going to double you then double you.”

Wilber Marshall overlooked for HOF? The ’85 Bears LB thinks so and he’s not alone

Wilber Marshall overlooked for HOF? The ’85 Bears LB thinks so and he’s not alone

The 1985 Bears already have three members of their epic defense — Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary — in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In more than one opinion, another of that group is overdue for Hall of Fame recognition.

Wilber Marshall. Linebacker. “Pit Bull,” to his teammates. The single best individual player on that defense, in some of their minds.

And in Marshall’s.

Rick "Goose" Gosselin, himself a Hall of Fame sportswriter (and voter) who created the special-teams ranking system used by every NFL team and now hosts "Talk of Fame Radio," did a six-part series of "Insiders & Outsiders," looking at a handful of players inexplicably passed over in the 94 HOF candidates in the Class of 2017. Marshall was among those six.

"It amazes me," Goose wrote to me this week, "that he can’t even get on the preliminary ballot ... Too many deserving players have slipped through the cracks without ever having any discussion."

Among those, for example: Detroit Lions left tackle Lomas Brown, who Dent rated along with Jimbo Covert as the two best tackles he ever faced.

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But the Marshall case is particularly intriguing.

He was an Academic All-American, the Bears’ No. 1 pick in the 1984 draft and under whose skin legendary coordinator Buddy Ryan got by mercilessly calling "Stupid."

Marshall was not, academically or football-wise. And as far as whether he belongs in the Hall, "Hate to say it," he told Goose, "but I do believe I should be there. I’m probably the only linebacker in history ... that I know of ... that played outside and inside linebacker (on the same Super Bowl unit).

"They had Mike [Singletary] sitting on the sidelines when I’m playing middle linebacker on third down. So I wasn’t just a rush guy, like the guys on the end that you see them go 90 percent of the time. Ten percent of the time they may drop. So I had a lot to learn."

As Goose and fellow hosts and HOF voters Ron Borges and Clark Judge chronicle, Marshall more than learned it. Marshall went on to win a second Super Bowl ring with the 1991 Washington Redskins. He was selected to Pro Bowls at both strong-side and weak-side linebacker and was a member of nine top-10 defenses in the span of his 12-year career.

"I just don’t get it," Marshall said.

Hall of Fame to honor Butkus, Dent, Hampton, Sayers at Bears-Vikings game

Hall of Fame to honor Butkus, Dent, Hampton, Sayers at Bears-Vikings game

It will be a special evening for a handful of legendary Bears on Monday night.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame will honor Dick Butkus, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton and Gale Sayers with a Ring of Excellence in a halftime presentation during the Bears-Vikings game at Soldier Field.

The Ring of Excellence is one of three symbols that represents Pro Football Hall of Fame status. The Gold Jacket, the Bronzed Bust and the Ring of Excellence will all be on display during the presentation.

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Each former Bear will wear their Gold Jacket and the four Bronzed Busts will be temporarily removed from the Hall of Fame for the ceremony.

Monday marks the second of three seasons in which the Ring of Excellence will be presented to the Hall of Famers.

Check out photos (provided by the Chicago Bears) of each ring below: