No one would be foolish enough to mention this New York Giants defense in the same breath as the 1985 Chicago Bears. Would they?
Bob Glauber of Newsday did just that in a column the other day.
Mention the '85 Bears and you recall a relentless pass rush, with complicated, virtually unstoppable blitzes. Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, Otis Wilson, Wilber Marshall, Dan Hampton, Steve McMichael, Gary Fencik and Dave Duerson. They crushed all but one opponent - a Dolphins team that kept the '72 Miami squad as the modern NFL's only unbeaten - before steamrolling through the playoffs and Super Bowl XX. Bears 21, Giants 0. Bears 24, Rams 0. Bears 46, Patriots 10.
There will never be another team like it.
Yet the thought of those Bears came to mind, albeit briefly, during Monday night's Giants-Falcons game at the Georgia Dome. While the Giants' current sack machines were mere babes, I was a rookie NFL writer who didn't fully grasp what I was seeing. All I knew was that whenever the Bears put eight, nine, 10 men at the line of scrimmage, it was one of the most exciting moments in football. Just to watch them swarm and bury the quarterback with waves of blitzes was as breathtaking as seeing Joe Montana hit Jerry Rice on a 50-yard fly.
For a few fleeting moments Monday, the Giants' defense looked like a reasonable facsimile. Not that this group can be compared with the '85 Bears, because no defense this side of the Steel Curtain Steelers - not even the 2000 Ravens - was as formidable. But the scheme the Giants are running under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo might be the closest we get to see of that attack. Finally, after the read-and-react conservatism of the Tim Lewis era, it is fun to watch the Giants' defense.
Whoa, Bob! The Giants defense has been good for four games. And, yes, this attacking style is fun to watch. But let's not immortalize this group quite so fast.
The Giants defense hasn't really done anything yet. The Eagles were without Brian Westbrook and had an overmatched rookie trying to stop Osi Umenyiora. The Redskins have a young quarterback. The Jets are hardly an offensive juggernaut, and the fractured Falcons barely even threatened the Giants.
There is definitely reason to be optimistic. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has turned loose a fearsome group of pass-rushers, and cornerbacks Sam Madison and Aaron Ross give the Giants the best pass coverage they have had since Jason Sehorn was in his prime.
Let's wait, though, until the Giants play the Cowboys again. Until they play the Eagles with Westbrook. Until they face the Patriots in their final game of the regular season. Let's wait until all the evidence is in before we start comparing the Giants to the best defenses of modern times.
Let's at least wait until Spagnuolo's defense shuts down a truly good team. Until then those kinds of comparisons are just silly.