Sporting News is running a series on the top-10 teams in the history of the NFL, and we were asked, as was several other SBN blogs, to give our reasons as to why our team (1985 Bears) is the greatest. We are up against some stiff competition as you'll see in the poll, but is there really even any doubt who will win?
I asked resident 1985 Bears guru Lester Wiltfong, Jr. to do a write-up on why the 1985 Bears team is the best, and his argument can be found below the fold.
When asked to write my opinion on why I believe the 1985 Chicago Bears was the greatest team of all time I was at a loss for words. Well, all words except one… Ditka. End of Blog, thanks for playing, remember to tip your waitresses. But I knew I couldn’t go out like that. People like their stats, they like to compare the competition of different eras, and they need to look at the individual players on each team. OK. I could go down that road too and be confident with the outcome. Without question the 1985 Chicago Bears are the greatest team of all time.
The ’85 Bears can match up in any era. A team that can run the ball and play great defense can win against anybody. Now factor in that the Bears just didn’t run the ball, they ran the ball with the greatest football player to ever play the game in Walter Payton. Even in his 11th season he was still at the top of his game. His 2,034 yards from scrimmage was the 3rd best of his career as was his 49 receptions. His 1,551 rushing yards was his 4th best total, and his 483 yards was his 2nd best. He also set a record with 9 straight games with 100+ yards rushing in the '85 season.
Their running game wasn't just Payton. Underrated fullback Matt Suhey added 471 yards rushing and caught 33 balls for 295 yards. And up front they had one of the best groups of offensive linemen in the decade. The Black and Bruise Brothers paved the way for Chicago to lead the league in rushing with 2,761 yards.
They could sling the ball a bit as well. Even though Jim McMahon had a gun slinger mentality (he left college as one of the more prolific passers all time) he was quite adept at managing the game. He was the perfect quarterback and the quintessential leader for that particular offense. The headbutting with his linemen, the rebel attitude, and his throw caution to the wind type play endeared him to his teammates.
Wide receiver Willie Gault had Olympic speed and his 21.3 yards per catch on 33 receptions made defenses locate him on every snap. Opposite Gault, Dennis McKinnon was one of the toughest players to ever play in Chicago. The tight end position accounted for 59 catches and 888 yards.
I could have started this piece off with the Bears defense, because we all know how dominant that unit was, but I wanted everyone to remember just how good the offense was.
But that defense... There are probably former players that played against them waking up to this day that are having flashbacks. Night terrors, a cold sweat, and they may even have a support group. 'Hi I'm Eric Hipple and the 85 Bears cleaned my clock.' There were some great defenses before 1985, but none brought the kind of heat and from as many different angles as the famed 46 Defense of defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. They had great athletes all over the D, and the few that wouldn't be considered athletically superior made up for that deficiency by having an incredibly high football IQ. Many offenses were defeated even before they took their first snap, they were scarred coming out of the tunnel and all the woofing from the Junkyard Dogs just added to their anxiety.
Back to the O for a sec, the '85 Bears offense was #2 in points scored that season and couple that with their league leading scoring defense and their point differential of 258 was far and away ahead of the 2nd place 49ers and their 148 difference. The Bears flat out dominated the competition in 1985.
'But the 1985 Bears lost to the Dolphins...' And I say so what. It was a regular season game, and something seemed to get lost through the years, Steve Fuller was the starting QB for Chicago that day. Not to crack on Fuller, technically he won four of the five games he started that season, but he wasn't the Punky QB known as McMahon.
But it was what happened after that Dolphin loss that really sets this team apart. It was after their lone defeat that they recorded the Super Bowl Shuffle. They said, 'we're gonna win and you can't stop us', and teams couldn't. They went on to with their final three games to finish up 15-1, then rolled through the playoffs shutting out the Giants then the Rams. Then in SBXX it was business as usual with a 46-10 rout of the Patriots.
And did I mention the 1985 Bears were led by a certain mustachioed coach with a certain iconic sweater vest? An individual that goes by the name, Michael Keller Ditka. Da Bears.
Thanks Lester. You nailed it.