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5 CHICAGO Bears
Josh Elliott
August 28, 2000
Their success will hinge on a high-priced defensive end and an offense that's still attempting to find its way
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August 28, 2000

5 Chicago Bears

Their success will hinge on a high-priced defensive end and an offense that's still attempting to find its way

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PROJECTED LINEUP
WITH 1999 STATISTICS

Coach: Dick Jauron
Second season with Bears (6-10 in NFL)

Offensive Backs

QB

Cade McNown

91*

235 att.

127 comp.

54.0�%

1.465 yds.

8 TDs

10 int.

66.7 rtg.

RB

Curtis Enis

82*

287 att.

916 yds.

3.2 avg.

45 rec.

340 yds.

7.6 avg.

5 TDs

RB

James Allen

260*

32 att.

119 yds.

3.7 avg.

9 rec.

91 yds.

10.1 avg.

0 TDs

RB

Glyn Milburn

243*

16 att.

102 yds.

6.4 avg.

20 rec.

151 yds.

7.6 avg.

1 TD

Receivers, Specialists, Offensive Linemen

WR

Marcus Robinson

52*

84 rec.

1,400 yds.

9 TDs

WR

Bobby Engram

126*

88 rec.

947 yds.

4 TDs

WR

Marty Booker

188*

19 rec.

219 yds.

3 TDs

TE

John Allred

276*

13 rec.

102 yds.

1 TD

K

Paul Edinger (R)#

234*

40/41 XPs

21/26 FGs

103 pts.

PR

Glyn Milburn

243*

30 ret.

11.5 avg.

0 TDs

KR

Glyn Milburn

243*

61 ret.

23.4 avg.

0 TDs

LT

Blake Brockermeyer

6'4"

312 lbs.

15 games

15 starts

L.G

Todd Perry

6'5"

308 lbs.

16 games

16 starts

C

Olin Kreutz

6'2"

295 lbs.

16 games

16 starts

RG

Chris Villarrial

6'4"

310 lbs.

15 games

15 starts

RT

James Williams

6'7"

340 lbs.

16 games

16 starts

Defense

LE

Bryan Robinson

42 tackles

5 sacks

LT

Jim Flanigan

43 tackles

6 sacks

RT

Mike Wells

68 tackles

1 sack

RE

Phillip Daniels#

48 tackles

9 sacks

OLB

Brian Urlacher (R)#

154 tackles

1 sack

MLB

Barry Minter

119 tackles

3 sacks

OLB

Warrick Holdman

67 tackles

2 sacks

CB

Thomas Smith#

47 tackles

1 int.

SS

Tony Parrish

104 tackles

1 int.

FS

Shawn Wooden#

65 tackles

0 int.

CB

Walt Harris

69 tackles

1 int.

P

Brent Bartholomew

7 punts

44.0 avg.

#New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*: Player Valuo Ranking (explanation on page 139)

The anonymity of Phillip Daniels officially ended one night last February, and, fittingly, the moment came at the expense of his good friend and former Seahawks teammate Cortez Kennedy. Daniels had just signed a five-year, $24 million contract to become the Bears' featured pass rusher and was in Chicago house hunting. Kennedy, an All-Pro defensive tackle, was visiting family in the area. As they were finishing their meal at a swank downtown steakhouse, an autograph seeker breezed right past Kennedy and asked Daniels to sign. As Daniels beamed, Kennedy could only shake his head. "After the guy left, Tez said, 'You the Big Man now. That guy didn't even know who I was,' " recalls Daniels. "So I said, 'Yeah, but in Seattle, they never knew who I was.' I guess things have changed."

Gone are the days when the exploits of Daniels, a fifth-year defensive end, would be routinely eclipsed by those of Seattle linemates Kennedy, Sam Adams and Michael Sinclair. Despite increasing his sack total each season—and leading the team last year with nine—Daniels feels he was undervalued by the Seahawks, as well as misused. (He was often replaced in third-down passing situations.) "They didn't think I had the skills to pass rush, but I know what kind of player I am," he says. "It was time to make a name for myself."

He won't be the only newcomer with that mission on the defense, which includes among its four new starters former Bills cornerback Thomas Smith and rookie linebacker Brian Urlacher from New Mexico. But while the 5'11", 190-pound Smith is valued for his rugged consistency in the Big Receiver Central, and the faithful have cast Urlacher as the Second Coming (if only of Dick Butkus), the defensive fortunes rest squarely on the shoulders of the team's new right end. "That's fine by me," Daniels says. "The way we revamped this defense, people should expect a lot of us. The coaches said as much. They told me they wanted a leader and a guy who could give them sacks. Well, I'm that guy."

A competitive powerlifter in the off-season, the 6'5", 290-pound Daniels can not only prevent opponents from double-teaming unsung tackles Jim Flanigan and Mike Wells but can also keep running backs busy holding blocks and slow their release into passing routes. Add the speedy Urlacher's superior ability to cover tight ends, and opposing quarterbacks could find themselves with few options—and little time to consider them. "Phillip is the missing link for our pass rush," says Wells. "He's an amazing athlete, and so strong. He makes us so much better."

Which isn't saying all that much. Name a defensive category in '99, and chances are the Bears stank it up: They finished no higher than tied for 20th in total defense, passing defense, rushing defense, points allowed or sacks. Defensive coordinator Greg Blache says he simply asked too much of an under-talented unit, but Wells sees it differently. "Last year, people may have blamed the line, and then maybe we would get defensive and blame the coverage," he says. "There's a different feeling this year. We're all working together, enjoying each other, having fun-but taking the work seriously."

The offensively challenged Bears will need such defensive cohesion to make a playoff run. Plagued last year by a pathetic running attack (their leading rusher, oft-injured third-year running back Curtis Enis, gained 3.2 yards per carry), Chicago threw 684 times, the fourth-highest total in NFL history. Yet the new season brings no upgrade at running back, and though the aerial circus made a budding star of receiver Marcus Robinson (84 catches for 1,400 yards and nine touchdowns), it also created a quarterback controversy that spilled into training camp. Second-year coach Dick Jauron has said repeatedly that the job belongs to Cade McNown, despite the brash McNown's underwhelming rookie year and the strong play of Jim Miller. "Cade has done a tremendous amount of work to learn this offense," says a diplomatic Jauron. "I think he's ready to have an outstanding year, I really do. That said, he's got to win games."

The chances of winning will be enhanced if Daniels emerges as Chicago's first premier defensive lineman since Richard Dent. The bright, affable Daniels seems almost destined for such a role, and hero-starved Bears fans have already taken to him en masse. When he was debilitated by migraines during the first week of camp (an annual preseason occurrence with him, for reasons unknown), Daniels received loads of letters and E-mails outlining remedies, all with the same intention: to keep the Big Man on the field.

Given how far Daniels has come—and, more important, where he has arrived—the amateur M.D.'s needn't worry. "I'll do whatever it takes this year," he says. "I'm ready to be a star for this team."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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