The Bears vacated Soldier Field over the weekend, allowing Notre Dame to use the facility to awaken some echoes.
Not that it prevented the Bears from awakening some of their own down in Jacksonville on Sunday.
The Bears’ 38 points in the second half were their most in a half since all the way back in 1941.
They have scored at least 1 defensive touchdown in three straight games for the first time since all the way back in 1950.
Brandon Marshall became the Bears’ first receiver with consecutive 100-yard games since Marcus Robinson all the way back in 1999.
The Bears scored 41 points in a game for the first time since all the way back in, well, for the first time since as recently as Sept. 9.
By most measures this Bears’ team is strutting after a 41-3 victory over the Jaguars and a three-game winning streak.
“We’re setting the bar each week,” Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith said, “and improving on the last week.”
Ah, but the loudest echo will continue to slumber in the background for a while: That would be the Bears’ only Super Bowl championship.
Oh, no, am I really already bringing up that 1985 season in the same breath as this season? Yes, but that one has haunted every Bears’ team the past 27 years.
Everybody around Chicago knows 1985 represents the franchise’s Holy Grail. Just check out the players from that team still yakking for cash and then-coach Mike Ditka’s list of income generating ventures.
It’s never too early to stretch an ear out for their echoes. So why not now as the Bears enter a bye week with a 4-1 record, albeit against mostly suspect competition?
We’re getting ahead of ourselves here, of course, especially considering the Bears had to play only one half of football to beat Jacksonville. They looked as impotent as the Jaguars did during a first half that ended in a 3-3 tie and Marshall characterized as “not Bears football.”
Even then there was little doubt about the outcome. The Jaguars are bad and the Bears are good, neither of those being bold assessments.
“They don’t crown a winner after the first half,” Smith said of the game.
Smith’s voice never will echo as rowdily or resoundingly as Ditka’s did back in the day. Nor will his players ever behave as crazily as Ditka’s players did.
The question is whether the 2012 Bears can make a run to the Super Bowl. The answer that should start echoing through town is yes even though five games does not a champion make, or even a contender.
If the Bears are smart they won’t think about that yet. I’m not that smart, though. During an otherwise quiet bye week, speculation should drift in all sorts of dramatic directions toward all sorts of exaggerated conclusions.
Some of the NFL’s best teams remain on the Bears’ schedule — the 49ers, Texans and perhaps the Packers among them — so their future isn’t as clear as their history. They might be peaking too soon. Injuries loom for every team. Odd paths have been taken to the Super Bowl the past couple years.
“We definitely need to improve and to keep working,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “But we’re headed in the right direction.”
The more echoes that can be heard along the way, the more possible that direction will lead back to 1985.
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