1984 Bears win title! (In my strategy football game)

The best football game of all time has nothing to do with John Madden. It’s not even a video game.

Nope, it’s Statis-Pro Football, a strategy board game created by the Avalon Hill game company, atleast until 1992, when the company sadly stopped production.

The game, for those not familiar with it, allowed players to coach real teams from a number of professional football seasons — at least until the company stopped making new player cards in 1992. Using a deck of cards and real statistics from actual NFL players, you could throw an 80-yard touchdown pass on a play or watch in horror as your quarterback fumbled the ball after a particularly brutal Lawrence Taylor sack.

I love this game. It takes forever to play, but when I do get the chance, it’s a nice way to kill an afternoon.

When I first bought the game, I played with cards from the 1984 season. This was when the San Francisco 49ers were king of the NFL. But the Bears were good, too. Remember, they won their division in 1984, albeit with a fairly pedestrian 10-6 record.

Those Bears thrived on defense and the running of Walter Payton. In the Avalon Hill game, players like Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson had great player cards. Even cornerback Mike Richardson somehow graded out as a strong player.

I played two seasons with my 1984 Bears. The first, the Miami Dolphins won, and my beloved Bears lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Giants. I played a second season and fared better. My Bears went to the Super Bowl, beating the 49ers and the then St. Louis Cardinals along the way. There they faced our league’s defending champion Miami Dolphins.

Payton scored the winning touchdown on the Bears’s last drive of the game and Gary Fencik intercepted a late Dan Marino pass to preserve a 21-17 Super Bowl victory.

You know, I was nearly as excited as when the Bears won it allfor real in 1985.

And, yes, I know that makes me a geek. But what can you do?

I’ll never understand the love for these players

After the Bears acquired Jay Cutler, I was amazed to hear people on talk radio still singing the praises of Kyle Orton. For those who don’t know them, here are Orton’s stats for last season: He completed 58.5 percent of his passes, for 2,972 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His quarterback rating came in at 79.6.

Does that sound like Pro Bowl passing to you? It doesn’t to me.

Simply put, Orton was a mediocre quarterback. There was nothing remotely special about him. I’ll never figure out why so many people seemed to love the guy. The only difference between Orton and Rex Grossman is that Grossman could every once in a while connect on a deep ball.

Orton joins a long line of Bears personnel who have all the love but none of the statistics to back it up.

Let’s start with the biggest of them all: Mike Ditka.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved Ditka back in 1984 and 1985 — I’m old enough to have watched those seasons, by the way. He was the perfect coach for those teams. But Ditka underachieved immensely following those two season. Sure, he compiled a stellar regular season win-loss record. Remember, though, the old NFC Central was one weak division during most of Ditka’s stay. When Ditka’s teams reached the playoffs after 1985, they disappointed. Following a 14-2 record in 1986, the Bears laid an egg at home and were pounded by Washington 27-13. In 1987, they lost their first game again to Washington, this time by a 21-17 score.

Then in 1988, the Bears finally won another playoff game, beating the Eagles in the famous Fog Bowl. They were humiliated 28-3, though, the following week at home by their old nemesis, the San Francisco 49ers. In 1990, the Bears won another playoff win, though it came against a mediocre 8-8 New Orleans Saints team. There were crushed 31-3 the following week by the Super Bowl bound New York Giants.

In Ditka’s last playoff appearance, in 1991, the Bears were outclassed by Troy Aikman and the on-the-rise Dallas Cowboys.

Take out the 1985 season, and Ditka’s Bears were only 3-6 in the playoffs. Not too impressive.

So why all the love for Ditka? He was a good coach. But not a great one.

Bears need a top-form Urlacher, too

Brian Urlacher is a jerk. Listen to him talk to the media and you can tell: This guy is an a-hole. He doesn’t seem like he’s going to win any father-of-the-year awards, either.

Despite this, he’s been the face of the Bears for years. Maybe this is why the team hasn’t won the Super Bowl since 1985: It’s hard to win it all when you’re most dynamic player plays on the defensive side of the ball.

Last year, Urlacher regressed significantly. In fact, he’s been regressing ever since the Bears last appearance in the Super Bowl.

For the Bears to get back to the Super Bowl, they need Urlacher to return to the player who was an annual Pro Bowl selection. They need the Urlacher who gave opponents nightmares, who nabbed sacks, interceptions and fumbles, along with all those tackles.

Even with the addition of Jay Cutler, the Bears won’t be a championship force unless their defense improves upon its largely miserable peformance of last year. And this won’t happen if Urlacher doesn’t pressure the quarterback or grab some turnovers.

And, yes, even if Urlacher does have a good year, he’ll still be a surly, ungrateful jerk. But at least he’ll be a Pro Bowl-caliber surly, ungrateful jerk.

Favre to Vikings — Does it matter?

As a Bears fan, I’m never too cocky. I’ve seen too much bad — and often boring — football for that. So when the Bears somehow pulled off a miracle and signed quarterback Jay Cutler earlier this year, I steeled myself for the upcoming disapointment.

Cutler’s best wide receiver is Devin Hester. Really. Don’t be surprised to see Cutler zipping throws to the tight ends all season long.

Maybe Cutler will get injured. Maybe Cutler won’t be as good as advertised. Maybe the offensive line won’t be able to protect him. Perhaps the aging defense will continue to falter, making Cutler’s strong arm a moot point.

See? I’m a Bears fan. I expect things to go wrong.

Then the Brett Favre rumors started. He mght end up being the quarterback of the Vikings this year. Check out this New York Times story for more information.

Now, maybe this doesn’t matter. Favre didn’t exactly finish strong last year for the New York Jets. In fact, the Jets weren’t even interested enough to give Favre another shot at the helm. The Jets were 8-5 at one point last year and still missed the playoffs, thanks in part to Favre’s erratic play during the end of the season.

But … there’s something about the Vikings with an adequate quarterback that’s scary. The Vikings have the best defense in the division and easily the best running game. Adrian Peterson can beat the Bears by himself. Think of how dangerous he’ll be with Favre tossing passes instead of Tarvaris Jackson.

I don’t know, call me a typical Bears fan here, but I’d really prefer Favre to call it a career. With the Vikings, he might be able to stick a dagger in the hearts of Bears fans once again.

Chicago Bears re-sign Robbie Gould

The Chicago Bears re-signed kicker Robbie Gould to a five-year deal, reportedly  worth $15 million.  Although the deal puts him at the top of the pack of kicker salaries, it seems so small in comparison to other players’ contracts, especially considering his accuracy and consistency during his time with the Bears.

Cedric Benson arrested for drunk boating

cedric-benson-mugshot.jpgChicago Bears running back Cedric Benson was arrested yesterday for driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol. He also was charged with resisting arrest. Both charges are misdemeanors and Benson posted bond this morning.

Coach Lovie Smith was “very disappointed” by the news. Benson has two prior arrests, one for marijuana possession and one for criminal trespass. Both of this charges came when he was still in college.

Bears take tackle, running back in draft

In the first two rounds of the NFL draft, the Chicago Bears filled in a much-needed spot and left tackle and added a running back.  They chose Vanderbilt offensive tackle Chris Williams in the first round and Tulane running back Matt Forte in the second round.

More updates to come as the draft continues and check Chicago Bears online for more information.

Chicago Bears 2008 Schedule

The Chicago Bears announced their schedule for the upcoming 2008 season.  They start out big, playing the Indianapolis Colts and the Carolina Panthers.  Lucky for the Bears, they have only one Monday night game and it does not come until toward the end of the season on December 22nd.

The full schedule, including what television channel where you can find the game is below:

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Chicago Bears trade Brian Griese

The Chicago Bears traded quarterback Brian Griese to Tampa Bay on Monday. In exchange, Tampa Bay is giving up a 2009 draft pick. I personally like Brian Griese, mostly because of our shared collegiate alma mater, so I am a bit disappointed in that regard. More disappointing, though, is the realization that next season’s quarterback will likely be Kyle Orton or Rex Grossman. I vote for none of the above.