Halas, of course, is still very much present. The venerable owner tooled around training camp in his golf cart, but it was Dooley, with an electric loudspeaker, who ran the toughest, most demanding Bear training camp of recent years. He was the boss, and the players became aware of it quickly.
Said Johnny Morris, the little flanker who retired after 10 years with the club: "There has been more hitting in this camp than in any 1 have ever been in." Dooley had the club butting heads at an accelerated pace, but, when the day's work was done, he proved a somewhat more permissive master than Halas.
"He said he didn't mind if we had a couple of beers after workout," one veteran said. "Just so he didn't catch us drinking too much. And he let us stay out until midnight on Saturday instead of 11:00. Those may seem like little things, but they mean something to us."
Dooley, who had been Halas' assistant for five years, has simplified the Bear offensive system by cutting down on the options on assignments. "Where a player may have had four ways to carry out his assignment, he now has two," Dooley says. "We think this will improve our execution. We'll do more things, but we'll do them easier."
Last year as defensive coach, Dooley invented the Dooley Shift, sending in an extra defensive back in place of a linebacker in obvious passing situations. It worked out so well that the Bears held their opponents to a league low of 42.7% passes completed and, during the second half of the season, cut that to an amazing 36.7%. In the last seven games the Bears won five, tied Minnesota and lost (by four points) to Green Bay.
One of Dooley's major problems is at quarterback, where Jack Concannon has taken over from Larry Rakestraw and Rudy Bukich. Concannon is a big, rawboned young man who runs very well for a quarterback but has not yet shown that he can pass well enough. If he were a tested quarterback, Dooley's imaginative sets and spreads could be effective enough to move the Bears up into Packer class.
Gale Sayers is, in effect, the Bear running attack. Dooley has plans to use him as a flanker, slot man, wide end or fullback in special situations—everything but center—so that he will be as strong a threat in every situation as he is on the few occasions when defenses can't gang up on him. But what Sayers really needs is another quality running back to diversify the Bear running attack. Ronnie Bull, Andy Livingston, Brian Piccolo, Ralph Kurek and Gary Lyle are the other backs.
Concannon has good enough receivers. Morris, who once set a league pass-catching record for one season may have gone, but Bob Jones, his replacement, has blazing speed, and so has Dick Gordon, the other wide receiver. A rookie, Cecil Turner, has shown enough to make Jones's job insecure, so the Bears are well-off for wide men. Last year the Bear tight ends caught only a total of 13 passes among them. This year Mike Hull, the team's first draft choice, will be moved from running back to tight end to bolster the position. Hull is a powerful blocker with speed enough to run deep patterns, and he will likely beat out Austin Denney, the 1967 incumbent.
Dooley's other big problem is the Bear offensive line. Bob Wetoska, a starting tackle, was operated on for shoulder trouble during the off season, and Mike Rabold, a dependable guard, retired. George Seals and Jim Cadile are fine first-string guards, but there is no depth behind them. Rookie Wayne Mass saw service in the offensive line during the preseason games, as did Randy Jackson, the left tackle. Mike Pyle, the old Yale man, is back again as center, but, even so, the offensive line looks thin.
Defense over the last few years has held the Bears up and 1968 should prove no exception, despite the improved prospects for the attack. The Chicago front line, clustered around 300-pound Frank Cornish at tackle, is powerful, with Ed O'Bradovich and rookie Willie Holman (who has taken over for the injured Marty Amsler) at ends. Light but active Dick Evey is the other tackle, while John Johnson backs them up.