Bernstein: One Guy Responsible For Bears’ Turnaround

By Dan Bernstein–

One year ago today, the leaders of the Bears held one of the worst press conferences in Chicago sports history.

In speeches that seemed prepared by some collaboration of George Orwell and the Marx Brothers, the troika of Ted Phillips, Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith told us that “massive change” was needed, but the most important thing they had going was “continuity.”

Phillips then did the spinning-bow-tie bit, Angelo rode a unicycle while juggling bowling pins, and Smith flung pies, sprayed seltzer and dropped his pants, if I’m remembering correctly.

Amazing that this same group can sit proudly as the team awaits a playoff opponent. They are 11-5, and the NFC’s second seed.

And the reason they can do so is Julius Peppers.

All it took was $90 million or so (we can stop the whole Cheap McCaskeys thing), and splashy free agent signings don’t often equate to team success as directly in the NFL as elsewhere, but they went and did it, and it worked.

Credit Brian Urlacher, sure, but his absences in the past were magnified by the lack of such a dominant presence on the line. Credit Mike Martz, but realize the team has been better when he has been anything but what they thought they were hiring. Credit Mike Tice, but notice that the blocking still isn’t very good. Credit Jay Cutler, but he’s still the same guy, for better or worse. Credit Smith or Angelo if you can do so without breaking out in hives.

Understand that Peppers is a brute squad – a freakish package of strength, smarts and athleticism. He’s a Hall-of-Famer at the peak of his abilities who has elevated a defensive scheme that apparently needed only him to function properly. He’s the focus of blocking attention on every play, as he makes zone drops like a safety, chases downfield like a linebacker, caves in the line on run plays, sets the edge and contains, pursues quarterbacks relentlessly, and blocks kicks.

He’s the best defensive lineman on the Bears since Dan Hampton.

Smith’s one-gap scheme works when the need for blitzing is obviated by front-four pressure. Chicago fans enamored with other approaches fail to understand the philosophy of seven sets of eyes seeing the play, and defenders swarming to the ball to limit gains and increase opportunities to cause turnovers.

I’m also convinced that North Carolinians need a remedial course in how to watch NFL football. Panthers observers asked about Peppers repeated the memes of him “taking plays off,” or “disappearing in some games” because they can’t see further than a stat sheet.

This ain’t baseball, gomer. It’s a true team game, and you have to actually watch line play. Stick to your car racin’ and professional bass fishing.

We admit we scoffed and chuckled a bit during training camp, when Urlacher, Charles Tillman and others casually described Peppers as the best individual football player each had ever seen. It sounded like the inflated rhetoric that accompanies the outsized expectations of a team trying a last-ditch stimulus spree before it all comes crashing down.

Several months later, and a year after that strange, uncomfortable day at Halas Hall, we’re not laughing.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: One Guy Responsible For Bears Turnaround

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Excellent blog Dan-o.
    The “Cover-2” only works with a great pass rush.

    • EK

      It also only works with really fast but powerful linebackers who can make open-field tackles on the first try and strip the ball one out of every 10 – 15 plays.

  • Just A Fan

    Berstine is one of the smartest guys around. Just ask him.

    • Juliuis Peppers

      How can someone be so consistently wrong? He thinks he knows everything and he actually knows nothing.

  • Meatless Meatball

    I saw a play last game that encapsulated why Peppers is, in my book, the Defensive Player of the Year. Rodgers faked a handoff, fooling everyone on the line but #90. He then took a five-step drop and sailed a pass for a nice first-down pickup. Just an average blown play, right? But it was what Peppers did that blew me away: he came off his blocker, swatted at the pass, then ran upfield and was in on the tackle. So what that means is that he rushed the passer, jumped to try to make a play on the ball, managed to shed his blocker, and still ran up-field before Chris Harris could get there. The guy’s an absolute freak of nature.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Excellent post MM.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Is the photo/bio of Dan-o new to the website?
    I had not noticed it before, him in his bad-@ss pose.

    The Cover-2 for Dungy’s Colts turned on Dwight Freeny’s pass-rush (and also Bob Sanders at S).

  • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

    With an aging defense and a coaching staff that’s Probably staying put, is this the off season we sign a kick @ss safety?

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      That makes PERFECT sense…but it is something that JA has failed on starting with Adam Archuleta and drafts.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    So, what have we learned?

    Booray is the easiest way to get rid of an overpaid or disgruntled player. Any chance Soriano and Zambrano can get involved in that game?

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    ANy hope to land OJ Mayo now for The Bulls???

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot???

    1. Ron Franklin’s eyesight.
    2. Ron Franklin’s judgment.
    3. Booyah’s sense of proportion in firing him.

    4. Michigan and firing or not RichRod…double Whskey Tango Foxtrot to that!!!

    • Likquid Swordz

      He made sexist comments to THAT?

      If anything, he should be fired for poor taste

  • Chicago Meatball

    “He’s the best, defensive lineman since Hampton”. Bernsie, you don’t know that for sure, what about Tim Shaw?

    • Stacey King


  • BearsFanInHoustonTx

    He is a good addition to our D line and glad we have him on our team.

  • Luol Dung

    You better be wearing your Go Omer t-shirt with pride today.

  • AT3374

    Ditka….sausages…Ditka ……………

  • Larry Horse's Arse


    AT your Ditka, sausages,Ditka bit ALWAYS cracks me up!!!

    • AT3374


  • crash corrigan

    Indeed, Peppers is among a handful of truly great D-linemen in Bears’ history, going back to Doug Atkins (60’s), Wally Chambers (’70’s), Hampton and now Peppers.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I read the Complaint against Favre/Jets on Deadspin.
    I was not impressed by the drafting.
    But that doesn’t mean that the hillbilly @sshat won’t need to pay a pretty penny.

    Most interesting fact….his middle name is Lorenzo.


    It’s now 5 consecutive wins for Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls after their 111-91 win over the Raptors at United Center. I know the guys talked about it a little bit yesterday, but there are teams that are really, really bad at NBA basketball so far in the first 30 games or so. If they play their cards right vs. the bottom-feeding Nets in Newark’s Prudential Center tonight and vs. the just as bad 76ers Friday night at what’s now called the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, I won’t be shocked if the Bulls bring a 7 game win streak into Saturday’s game vs. the injury-riddled Celtics on the West Side.

    • AT3374

      Go Bulls !!!

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Blog has been kinda slow today thus far.
    I expect it will explode in about an hour when we hear the Baseball HOF results.

    Robbie Alomar was within spitting distance last year, assume he’ll make it this year. Not so sure about anyone else. We’ll see.

  • huegtoad

    i don’t care about baseball hof this year, from what i understand the only interesting candidate is raffy palermo(thanks harry carey, still makes me chuckle) because of the whole roid thing. Roids or not he was a good contact hitter, the 3025 hits aren’t in question, it’s the HR’s and the sudden boost after he turned 30 or so. Otherwise i don’t care that much. Robbie alomar was good and probably worthy but i wasn’t a huge fan of him or anyone else eligible

  • huegtoad

    btw this is BTS, i guess i registered into the website wordpress so i can comment on and i guess i am stuck with this nickname

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      hey there bts…..from MABT to bts to huegtoad…….

      • huegtoad

        huegtoad has kinda been my thing ever since i got aol 14 years ago, i liked and still like BTS because it’s befitting but i can live with this one, it’s nostalgic

      • General Soreness

        I remember when BTS was Chief Wahoo. Those were the golden blog days.

      • huegtoad

        i forgot about that one LOL

  • Lovies pants

    One thing that Peppers was able to make clear is that Tommie Harris position is vital in this defense. His pass rush was able to silence this mantra. Although we know Tommie is not coming back after the year is over, Lovie now has Peppers to thank for the justification.

  • huegtoad


  • meesohawnee

    boy now i know what its like to maybe be married…
    same ole tired subjects at every day..
    what will be tomorrows Bulls blog?
    wash rinse repeat
    wash rinse repeat
    wash rinse repeat
    recycle.. zzzzzzzzzzz
    so what happened did bernstein join Match dot com? sassy pic. you go boy!!

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      yeah, the new pic cracks me up…just like when LoHo tries to look like a bad@ss

  • huegtoad

    ummm mee, nothing is going one right now, what would you like to discuss? there is no rule that states you have to stick with the script

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Hey… I tried to talk Booray, but nobody bit… lol.

    HOF discussion should be in the mix this afternoon.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      actually I bit…..asked if The Bulls could now get OJ Mayo as a result

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Bloomberg is predicting $4 gas very soon.

    Bad news.

    • huegtoad

      not suprised, but COMEON do these speculative a holes start foaming at the mouth everytime a positive economic report comes out, like just because the economy is showing slight signs of life doesn’t mean the populous has any more or less money in their frickin pocket. I guess i will be going out even less now, not contributing to our economy by shopping and dining out, i guess i won’t be making more trips to the homeland to visit family and friends either. Nice job oil speculators, you have speculated yourself right out of the market again!!!

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