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Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk: How have Bears coaches done in first season?

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

How have Bears head coaches fared in their first seasons on the job?

Bob J.

Calumet City, Illinois

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). 

Matt Nagy is bidding to become the first Bears coach to have a winning record in his first year since Halas retired before the 1968 season. Of the 10 coaches between Halas and Nagy, eight had losing records in their first years and two compiled 500 marks. Here are those 10 coaches and how they fared in their first seasons: Jim Dooley (7-7 in 1968), 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), Lovie Smith (5-11 in 2004), Marc Trestman (8-8 in 2013) and John Fox (6-10 in 2015).

I loved seeing Eddie Jackson on offense for one play against the Bills. Do you think that’s something that we could see more of in future games

Terry P.

Mobile, Alabama 

Anything’s possible when you have a creative head coach and offensive coordinator like the Bears do with Matt Nagy and Mark Helfrich, respectively. For those who missed it, safety Eddie Jackson entered last Sunday’s game in Buffalo on offense for one play in the second half. He went in motion from left to right and then looped back around quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to the left as Trubisky drifted to the right and pitched the ball to Tarik Cohen. Jackson has demonstrated excellent ball skills and a knack for finding the end zone both at Alabama and in two seasons with the Bears, so his inclusion does present some interesting possibilities. Asked about the play this week, Nagy said: “Just a little fun. We’ll see where it goes. But I know one thing: he was excited as hell when he found out he was going in there.” Whether it’s inserting Jackson into the game on offense, running the first snap out of the season out of the “T” formation as an ode to Bears history or lining up two quarterbacks on a play, I love how Nagy always seems to infuse some fun into what after all is a game.

Do you think the concussions that tight ends Ben Braunecker and Dion Sims have suffered in recent weeks will speed up Adam Shaheen’s return to game action?

Robert G.

Park Ridge, Illinois

No, those two things aren’t connected. Adam Shaheen will return to practice and hopefully eventually game action when the Bears feel he’s ready. Here’s what coach Matt Nagy had to say this week about whether the injuries you mentioned to Ben Braunecker and Dion Sims would affect Shaheen: “The other roles with the other tight ends doesn’t have anything to do with Adam. But he is getting very close. I’d keep an eye on him this week and see where he’s at. But I feel good with where he’s at and I think he’s getting close.”

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