For no real reason that I can understand or explain I sat and watched parts of a show that I would normally thumb my nose at, on Tuesday. The NFL Network offered up pre Super Bowl programming where the press had two one hour time periods to travel among various setup booths and interview the booth enclosed NFL Super Bowl players from first the Bears and then the Colts. And we were there for the experience through the magic of live TV! And though I am sure the thoughts that the show produced in my mind were not the intent of the program it did make me muse over a couple of items.
One of the amusing things was the NFL announcers kept talking about the way that the players were handling the interviews. The interviews I watched were civil and offered respect towards each other’s team players. (Exactly the pretty picture the NFL likes to paint about itself.) Anyone use to watching the NFL knows that despite most players offering up respect to each other, usually there is a “Diva” or two in the mix that trash talks about players and the other teams chances of winning. The fact that this was not happening, because there was no Diva smack talk I witnessed despite some attempted press goading, seemed to upset the NFL Network announcers. It was actually showing just how unexciting the whole event was/is without the trash talkers. Without all the trash talk there was not much for the NFL Network announcers to feed the ravenous for National Inquirer gossip minded viewers. It was fun, for me, to watch the announcers squirm for something to talk about.
There are a lot of Da Bears fans (myself included) going crazy over Da Bears current trip to the Super Bowl. And if you cruise through the blogosphere the one thing that always arises is a comparison to the 1985 Da Bears team. The show also made me think about the constant comparison to the 1985 Bears team. Now arguably that team is one of the greatest teams in history. That team was made up of Divas. There were numerous Diva players and even their head coach and defensive coach were Diva type individuals. The team had swagger, talked smack and backed it up. Their Super Bowl shuffle, though I admit I enjoyed it and I still have it somewhere on VHS, was one of the most pompous pre Super Bowl events ever. But for all their talent they could never repeat. The dream of a dynasty never emerged. Free Agency and conflict between the two Diva coaches, Ditka and Ryan, quickly helped end the Dynasty dream. Was the problem too many Divas? Maybe the rest of the league just caught up to them. I do not know the answer. I know and have stated before as great as that team was I am not sure they would be successful under current NFL rules. Just as the current team does they relied very heavily on defense. But the ’85 defense was a smash mouth defense. They were headhunters and they came at the other team in behaviors not allowed by current NFL rules. They inflicted pain and punishment on those that dared to challenge their defense. They often won games offensively and defensively by attrition, beating you down until you were out of energy and unable to offer up much resistance. The 2007 team still works that way on offense. Hoping to beat up and tire out their competition then score points attacking the weakened areas. The defense is different. They do try to tire you out, but they are not looking for a knockout punch to pin you to the mat, as did the ’85 team. The 2007 team defense is built on speed. They want to bend without breaking. If they play the defensive coverage percentages they figure the other team will self-destruct somewhere between the two twenty yard lines more times than they will score. And most scores will be field goals. The Bears team speed should also help the other team self-destruct. When the 2007 team defense is on its game, they flock to the ball. The ’85 team simply wanted the ball to go nowhere. They wanted to hurt the opposition and to keep the ball behind the line of scrimmage. That was the style they played. The 2007 team would like to keep the ball behind the line of scrimmage but they play the point of attack wherever the ball ends up. They flock towards the point of attack like a wolf-pack surrounding a potential meal. The idea is that if they get enough people near the ball they will create a mismatch where they can strip the ball away from the ball carrier enough times to win the game by either scoring themselves or by creating great field position for their offense. Which idea is better I do not know. Perhaps under current NFL rules this type of defense is the best idea. Under previous NFL rules the ’85 style was dominant. I am not even sure you can have a bunch of Divas, like the ’85 defensive team was, run the 2007 offense. Too many egos could get in the way of a bend but not break style. It is truly a team defense. So is it really fair to try and compare this team with the ’85 team? In fact with the way NFL rules change is it really fair to try and compare any NFL championship team to another except to point out what each team did best and why? I do not know, but in many ways it reminds me of comparing apples to oranges. Both are fruit and both taste good but they are two different victuals. The same could be said when comparing any two NFL caliber Championship teams from different eras. They are all different creatures; maybe we should just enjoy them for what they are or were!