Many important games in rivalry with Redskins

And Sunday's figures to be the same, as least for Bears' fortunes this season

The Bears and Redskins have played many "statement" games over the years.

Whether it was George Halas' 1940 Bears extracting revenge over outspoken Redskins owner George Preston Marshall with a 73-0 shellacking in the NFL championship game or the Redskins pounding the visiting Bears 38-14 in 1989.

Marshall had called the Bears "crybabies and quitters" after the Redskins beat them 7-3 in a 1940 regular-season contest before the Bears retaliated with the most lopsided result in league history.

Mike Ditka sarcastically predicted after that humiliating Nov. 26, 1989, loss that his team would not win another game. In fact, that Bears team fulfilled his prophecy and wound up 6-10. The Redskins also had stood in the way of his Bears winning another Super Bowl during the 1987 NFC playoffs.

This Sunday's Bears-Redskins matchup has the feel of a being another statement game — at least for the 4-2 Bears. Yet coach Marc Trestman continues to measure his words and shy away from applying unnecessary pressure on his NFC North contenders.

"Nobody has to carry the weight. Not the coaches, not the players. If we all just do our job we can relax and enjoy not only the moment but the games," Trestman said this week. "That's what we're trying to get done. That's something our whole staff works on daily."

Vociferous Bears receiver Brandon Marshall uncharacteristically stammered for the proper words this week when asked to compare the styles and personalities of Trestman and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, for whom Marshall played on the Broncos a few years ago.

"Totally two different coaches," Marshall said. "You have Coach Trestman who is like a whiz. And he's that guy with tons of books, tons of pens. He's a brainiac. And you have Coach Shanahan over here …"

Then Marshall broke into a nervous laugh before a Bears media relations person cut short the news conference to rescue Marshall from inserting his foot in his mouth.

Steve Walsh, an 11-year NFL quarterback with six teams, including leading the Bears to the playoffs in 1994, has known Trestman for nearly 30 years and offers an interesting perspective on how Trestman's positive personality changed his life by giving him a chance to play at the University of Miami.

Both of them are from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and Trestman recruited Walsh before he left the Hurricanes as quarterbacks coach to join the staff of the Vikings.

"My high school offensive coordinator played college ball with Marc at Minnesota," Walsh recalled. "I was not getting recruited. I had an offer from Iowa State, and Northwestern wasn't sure if they were going to offer me (a scholarship).

"So my coach called up Marc in November of my senior year and said: 'Hey, I think you should look at this kid. He can throw it. He is not real big.' I was 6 feet 2, but 160 pounds. Marc kind of tied in a visit to his parents in Minneapolis and came to see me. He began to recruit me from then on."

Walsh would lead Miami to the 1987 national championship and he became a first-round (supplemental round) draft pick of the Cowboys in 1989.

It is too early to tell if Trestman will continue to make a believer out of quarterback Jay Cutler and the rest of the current Bears players.

Hopefully Sunday's game against the Redskins will provide more of an encouraging statement than a lingering question.

fmitchell@tribune.com

Twitter @kicker34

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