I recently had the chance to talk on the phone with Jeff Dickerson. Jeff has been traveling with the Bears and covering them for ABC-7. Jeff also appears on Chicago’s Game Day Live and hosts a nightly show on ESPN 1000 from 7:30pm to 11:00pm. To see more about Jeff and his work, check out espnchicago.com And a quick thanks to Don Povia for setting me up with Jeff.
Due to a last minute technical difficulty, I was not able to get a recording of this interview, but I was able to take notes. Unfortunately my typing is not as fast as I thought it was, so I had to paraphrase the answers a little bit.
Do the Hawks deserve to be here?
I got the feeling that Jeff absolutely thought that the Hawks deserved to be in the playoffs. “If you win your division that’s how it goes.” He understood why some fans might be “upset”, and went on to suggest that maybe reseeding teams might be one solution. One thing Jeff was absolutely clear about was that the Bears players were not overlooking the Seahawks.
The Seahawks are not the most popular team in the press. Who does the rest of the country of this team?
Jeff was quick to point out that the Bears aren’t exactly, “media darlings.” He stated that , “the Bears have got their own problems,” and that, ”Dilfer is ripping the Bears on a nightly basis.” The first Seahawks player he mentioned was Earl Thomas, “a guy the Bears have talked about a lot.” He also mentioned Mike Williams. “because he was a but,” but also because, “he had a great game against the Bears,” earlier in the season.” In that game Williams had 10 catches for 123 yards. Jeff was also quick to point out the experience and impact of Lofa Tatupu as well as some of the 2nd year and rookie players Seattle has quired through the draft.
Is Mike Martz a better OC or Head coach? Have the years made him better than he was in St Louis?
Initially Jeff stated, “I might have to say no. But he did adapt a little bit.” Jeff was reluctant to give Martz too much credit. “They are running the football better, and Martz’s play calling has shifted a bit. He’s done an ok job.” Jeff went on to state that he didn’t think Martz would be getting another Head coaching job anytime soon, however, he did state that, Mike Tice has, “done a great job with the guys up front.” Jeff’s biggest fear concerning Mike Martz was that he may, “go back to his old tricks on Sunday.” In the end, I don’t think Jeff really disliked or liked Mike Martz as he consistently used the word, “ok,” to describe him.
How much of an impact does the crowd have on this game?
“I know how loud it gets (at Qwest Field.) Soldier field is not on that level.” He thought that Chicago fans were ”passionate,” but that Seahawks fans were, crazy over the top. To tell you the truth, I knd of prefer crazy over the top.” There’s a tip of the hat for you 12th Man
Describe the evolution of Jay Cutler? Is it Cutler or Martz evolving the most this year?
“It all starts with the run.” Jeff was adimant on this point throughout the entire interview. ”It makes them less predictable.” Jeff thought that the Bears, “have done themselves a lot of favors on 3rddown,” since they have balanced their offense. Chicago was 0-12 on 3rd down the last time these two teams met. “Cutler has played great at times this year, but getting back to a balance style offense has meant the world to this team.” Jeff really thought that this game would come down to how many times Chicago rushed the ball stating that, “if Matt Forte doesn’t get at least 20 touches, it will be a crime.”
Which game best defined the Bears team this year?
”I think the Jets was most impressive.” Chicago snuck away that week with a 38-34 victory over the Jets, however, he didn’t think that game was the one that really defined the team. “The defining win was the Eagles.” In this game the, “offense moved the ball at will outside of one bad sequence in the end of the first half.” That game the Bears put up 31 points to the Eagles 26. “That’s when everybody believed it was more than luck.”
“If the Bears don’t win this game, the city might fall into Lake Michigan. 31-17 Bears.”
Thanks again to Jeff for taking the time to talk with the 12th Man Rising, and even though he picked the Bears, I appreciated the respect he gave this Seahawks team. The more I talked with him, the more I realized how similar these two teams are concerning the lack of support from the media. At the end of week 7, I don’t think anyone really expected either team to be here, yet here they are. I wonder if Drew Brees and Peyton Manning will be watching this game together?
These were my questions for Jonathan.
1. How much does it really matter that the Seahawks beat Chicago? Does it have any impact or influence on the upcoming matchup?
Chicago HQ: Hell yes. The game against the Seahawks was the beginning of Mike Martz changing. He kept wanting this team to be “The Greatest Show on Turf” but instead the only thing on turf was Jay Cutler. The line was playing for crap and the Chicago Bears stopped running the damn ball. Now, the Chicago Bears are a running team that sprinkles in passes when the situation calls for it. The offensive line is playing better. Plus, the defense is going to better than what you saw. Lance Briggs is healthy and the defensive line has gone through some personnel changes. Trust me, the Chicago Bears considered the Seattle loss as unforgivable. The opportunity to feel better about it comes possibly comes Sunday.
2. Being a 12th Man, I have to ask: How much of an impact does the crowd at Soldier Field have on the outcome of the game?
Chicago HQ: They do this BS in Chicago called “The 4th Phase”. We’re supposed to be wild and crazy. Honestly, and I know you’re not going to like what I’m going to say, I don’t buy into this crowd business. Look, great teams win because their great. The Seahawks beat the Saints because the Saints became one dimensional and forgot how to tackle (I picked you guys by the way…I thought the Saints were way to caught up in how bad Seattle was, and they weren’t prepared for that game at all). The way you get the crowd out of any game is running the damn football. I’m expecting the Seahawks to do that Sunday.
3. The Bears finished the season winning 7 of their last 9 games. They seemed to really gain momentum towards the end of the season. How much does the loss in week 17 and a bye in the first round take away from that momentum? Or does the extra rest benefit them?
Chicago HQ: I have to give Lovie Smith a lot of praise for going with his starters against the Packers. Instead of being stubborn, he learned from his past mistakes that resting players doesn’t work. Look at what happened last week in your game. The Saints came in and looked sloppy because the previous week was used as a resting period. The Bears are healthy. They just got healthier and the coaches got were able to change some things. The Green Bay loss was used as a testing ground. I went up to that game and I’ll tell you that in the first half, the Bears were the better team. The second half the Bears changed some things around and they really got away from what worked. Had the game mattered, I think they would have continued doing the things that were working. This team was better after the regular season bye, so I’m thinking that they should adjust accordingly this time around.
4. Which player will have the biggest impact on the outcome of the upcoming game?
Chicago HQ: The obvious answer is Devin Hester. The right answer is Matt Forte. Lofa Tatupu’s status is still unknown. If he’s out, Forte may have an even bigger game. I’ll also throw Earl Bennett in there as well.
5. Which Chicago television icon is Chicago most proud of: Oprah or Bozo?
Chicago HQ: Bozo. I’m 36. My mother had to write in for tickets before I was born so I could go to a show when I was like 6. It was a thrill meeting him. Oprah annoys the s@#t out of me. And you can print that…
Chicago HQ: Well, now the big question…all this other stuff was talk. I’m liking not loving the Chicago Bears. I’ll say Bears 17 Seahawks 10
Gotta go with the Seahawks: 24-17