I was browsing through a copy of the all-too-interesting NFL Record & Fact Book, thinking, "Hey, some of these Bears records aren't that tough to break." Here in Chicago, expectations are somewhat high for the defending NFC North champs, even if most of the national media puts us barely above the Vikings in the division. Below the fold, I will look at some of the many Bears single-season records, a couple of career records, and break down the chances we have of setting a new one for this year. Onwards!
It's no secret that the Bears haven't had a franchise QB worthy of the name since the famed Sid Luckman was still in his prime, although if it wasn't for his injury habit, I think that Jim McMahon would have broken a record or two. We also haven't had a true #1 receiver in town in a good while, and while we might be waiting on that one a while longer, you never know what kind of numbers a Martz offense can put up.
Total QB Passing Yards: 3,838 - Erik Kramer, 1995
Jay put up a pretty respectable 3,274 last season in 14.5 games, but I think with the vague improvements we've seen so far by the offensive line, he can convert some of those sacks into completions and give Kramer's record a run for its money. I rate this record as breakable.
Passing Touchdowns: 29 - Erik Kramer, 1995
Cutler had 23 last season, and if he continues his move away from throwing horrible interceptions in the red zone, he can improve on that number. Still, I think this record is safe for another season, although I'd love to be proven wrong.
Total Receptions: 100 - Marty Booker, 2001
No chance this one falls in the spread-the-love offense we run now. Plus, we'll have Forte stealing catches away from our WRs. Good work Marty.
Total Receiving Yards: 1,400 - Marcus Robinson, 1999
I put this one up here only because it blew me away that #88 had a season like that, because the closest he ever came to his '99 season was posting 732 yards in 2000. I would be surprised if a half-dozen receivers in the NFL post over 1,400 yards this season, and, sadly, none of them play for the Bears.
Devin Hester Special
We all know that he's tied the league record for total return touchdowns, but let's break it down anyways.
Team Average Punt Return Yards: 17.1 - Devin Hester, 2010
Think he can top this one? I give it a push. Incidentally, the NFL record for a team's average punt returns - 20.1 yards - is held by the 1941 Bears.
Total Punt Return Touchdowns: 10 - Eric Metcalf, Devin Hester
Put the champagne or Champagne of Beers on ice, because this one will be Hester's all alone by the end of the year. Let's make it Week 1, please. Also, keep in mind that every return TD he scores adds to his record of combined kick/punt return TDs, currently at 14.
Combined Kick/Return Touchdowns, Season: 6 - Devin Hester, 2007.
I like that he also holds the #2 slot on this list with 5 in 2006. Why not hold down the first three spots?
If some of the offensive records seem beatable, these ones are set pretty high. Let's look at the numbers, however.
Interceptions: 10 - Mark Carrier, 1990
That's a hard one to beat right there, folks. And considering that we haven't had a pick yet this preseason, I think we'll be waiting a while longer one this one.
Sacks: 14.5 - Richard Dent, 1984
If we lined up Julius Peppers in the '84 defense, when blitzers were seemingly appearing at will in the backfield, he could do it, but he would need to add a whole 6.5 onto last season's total to tie this one. A boy can dream, but I don't see anyone this season topping out over 10 or 11.
Tackles are still not an official NFL stat, so no word on how we stack up against team history on that front. That said, on to the moment you've really been waiting for...
Robbie Gould Checklist
Most Field Goals, single season: 32 - Robbie Gould, 2006
Can Cutler outperform Rex Grossman in putting the ball into field goal range and not getting touchdowns? This is a record I might root for to stand - I'll take 6 over 3 any day - but it's not all that implausible that he averages 2 FGs a game. Add one more on for good measure, and this one could drop.
Most Points, single season: 144 - Kevin Butler, 1985
Ahh, Butthead. This one is probably out of reach, although if Gould makes a run at the above record, this one could drop as well. The good news is that in another five or six seasons, Gould's total scoring, now at 685 after six seasons, might come close to beating out the lofty 1,116 Butler also holds.
NFL Career Accuracy: 86.5% - Nate Kaeding, SD (currently active)
Gould is a whole percentage point behind him, all the more impressive given that he kicks in Chicago for half his games. Pray for winds in San Diego and for continued excellence from Gould and they could switch positions by the end of the season: with Gould sitting at 159/186, it would take only 14 consecutive FGs to put him in a tie with Kaeding.
Tough road to climb when your competition includes two of the best running backs to ever play the game. I don't see Forte breaking any of the current records, but I'll give you a run-down of them anyways.
Rushing, single season: 1,852 - Walter Payton, 1977
Rushing, single game: 275 - Walter Payton, 1977 @ Vikings
Total Touchdowns, single season: 22 - Gale Sayers, 1965 (with an NFL record 6 in his first game!)
Good luck, Matt!
If you want to kill some time looking at even more records - who wouldn't want to know the two quarterbacks who tie for the record of most seasons holding the passing title or the punter who holds the best career net average, really? - you can find the NFL Record and Fact Book online here.
As always, thanks for reading!