Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff: 50 Days with Mike Singletary

Chicago Bears, Mike Singletary
Chicago Bears, Mike Singletary / Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY Sports
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Chicago Bears, Mike Singletary
Chicago Bears, Mike Singletary / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

Mike Singletary becomes heart and soul of Chicago Bears 46 Defense

As a rookie, Singletary was able to become a full-time starter by the team's seventh game. He finished his first season with one interception and an All-Rookie nod. In his second year, Singletary's season was kept to just nine games after sustaining a season-ending injury. Upon his return from injury the following year, Singletary, and the Bears' defense in general would go on a dominant run that would bring the franchise to new heights.

By his third season, Singletary had become increasingly more comfortable in defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan's unique 46-defense. As the centerpiece linebacker just off of the line of scrimmage, Singletary would often find himself unblocked up the middle, either as a rush defender or pass rusher. Subsequently, following the 1983 season, Singletary was named to his first Pro Bowl after recording five turnovers and 3.5 sacks in 16 games as a starter.

In 1984, the defense as a whole began to take the shape of one of the league's most legendary units. Previously, Singletary had the fortune to play alongside the likes of Otis Wilson, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, and Mike Hartenstine among the defense's front seven. Now, they were able to add Richard Dent into the mix, and the unit quickly shot to the top of the league.

At the end of the 1984 season, the Bears were the winners of the NFC Central and were the third seed in the NFC. The team made it to the NFC Championship, before eventually falling to the 49ers. Singletary finished the season with Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods after recording 3.5 sacks and two forced turnovers. As a unit, the defense was third-best in the league in terms of scoring.