Top Ten Defensive Players in Chicago Bears History

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4. Doug Atkins

As the game of football evolved in the 1960s and the forward pass became more and more incorporated into offenses, the art of rushing the passer began to develop and Doug Atkins was one of the first great pass rushers.

Atkins started his career as a member of the Cleveland Browns but found his way over to Chicago where he flourished and became a phenomenal defensive player. Although it’s impossible to know how many sacks Atkins tallied because it wasn’t kept as an official tally until years later, the Bears began keeping sacks as an unofficial record themselves in 1957. Unfortunately they didn’t keep it as an individual stat, only as a team stat.

During that era, the Bears routinely recorded around 50 sacks a season and when George Halas was asked about how many of the team’s sacks Atkins recorded he Halas said at least half of them. While that’s almost certainly an exaggeration, it’s quite likely that Atkins tallied around 15 sacks a season during his decade of dominance. When the greatest pass rushers are discussed, only Atkins and Deacon Jones are routinely brought up from the pre-sack era.

Atkins went to eight Pro Bowls, was named to four first-team All-Pros, six second teams and was a member of the 1960s all decade team. Atkins no longer receivers the notoriety he deserves but he’s one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history.