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How have Bears coaches fared in first season?

Posted Jul 23, 2013

Larry discusses how Bears coaches have done in their first year on the job, the likelihood of Brian Urlacher joining the Bears as a coach and getting autographs at training camp.

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

How have Bears head coaches fared in their first seasons on the job? Have any made the playoffs?

Calvin R.
Chicago

Not surprisingly, George Halas was the most successful. Papa Bear coached the team he founded for 40 seasons, split into four separate 10-year segments. He began those four stretches with records of 10-1-2 in 1920, 10-2-1 in 1933, 8-2-1 and an NFL championship in 1946 and 8-4 in 1958. Co-head coaches Hunk Anderson and Luke Johnsos also were very successful when they took over after Halas left to serve in World War II midway through the 1942 season. They led the Bears to six straight wins to complete an 11-0 regular season before losing to the Redskins 14-6 in the NFL title game. Anderson and Johnsos followed by leading the Bears to an 8-1-1 record and a league championship in 1943. Other coaches who guided the Bears to a winning mark in their first season include Ralph Jones (9-4-1 in 1930) and Paddy Driscoll (9-2-1 in 1956). Interestingly, the Bears' last seven coaches all have had losing records in their first year: Abe Gibron (4-9-1 in 1972), Jack Pardee (4-10 in 1975), Neill Armstrong (7-9 in 1978), Mike Ditka (3-6 in 1982), Dave Wannstedt (7-9 in 1993), Dick Jauron (6-10 in 1999) and Lovie Smith (5-11 in 2004). Of that group, all but Gibron eventually led the Bears to at least one playoff appearance.

Do you see any possibility of Brian Urlacher coming back as a linebackers coach in the future? He was such a positive influence it seems like a natural step.

Carl M.
Layton, Utah

No, former Bears star Brian Urlacher has said that he doesn't see himself becoming an NFL coach. He joked that he wouldn't want to deal with players like himself and the incredible number of hours required in the position aren't very appealing. Urlacher said he would consider coaching kids, however, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him volunteering on occasion to work with high school players like former nemesis Brett Favre has done regularly near his home in Mississippi.

Do Bears players sign autographs at training camp?

Pat K.
Peoria, Illinois

Training camp is probably the best place to get autographs from Bears players. Several of them sign following each practice. After observing this for many years, here's some unsolicited advice: 1) Get a good spot along the fence near where the players head to the locker room. 2) If you're going to yell to get a player's attention, call him by his name and not his number. 3) Have a photo of the player or something else that makes you stand out from the crowd. And please try to understand if a player doesn't sign on a particular day. They're typically practicing for three hours in hot conditions, and he may need to get treatment for an injury or have signed after practice the previous few days.

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