Mike Ditka praises Bears' offseason, calls Nagy a 'very good coach'

Mike Ditka praises Bears' offseason, calls Nagy a 'very good coach'

Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka spoke with NBC Sports on Monday and offered praise for Matt Nagy and the process GM Ryan Pace put in place this offseason.

“The Bears are trying to win and Matt’s [Nagy] a good coach, a very good coach," Ditka said. "I think they got to put the pieces together, they know what they want to do. They’re in the process of trying to draft the right people, put the right people in, work with the people they already have."

There's no relationship in football more important than the bond between a head coach and his quarterback, and according to Ditka, the Bears are trending in the right direction.

“I think they got a great quarterback and I really think there are a lot of good positions there. It’s good to have a great quarterback and a running game and all those things are important, but I think you win in this league by understanding you got to control the football, play great defense, you got to match up well on special teams. I think they’ll do that.

"They weren’t going to become a football club, not just throw the pass here, we’re going to throw the ball 50 times, it’s not that. You play the game to win the game. It doesn’t matter if you run the ball 100 times or you pass it 100 times. Whatever way you can win, you win.”

The Bears should be a lot more aggressive on offense this season with Nagy calling plays. The first-year coach has said he plans to test defenses with the vertical passing game and Chicago has the skill players to do it. Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel both have third-level speed.

The combination of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will also be a huge part of Nagy's system. Howard, who's coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons to start his career (the first player in Bears history to accomplish such feat) is chomping at the bit to take on the role Kareem Hunt starred in for Kansas City last season, the same one that resulted in the rookie back leading the NFL in rushing yards.

Still, before the Bears can have visions of a playoff berth, they have to get through the NFC North.

“In the National Football League you have to look at your division, that’s where it all starts," Ditka said. "You got Green Bay, you got Detroit, you got Minnesota, you got Chicago. Now Chicago has to understand they got to come out of the six games with Minnesota, Detroit and Green Bay with at least four wins. At least four. If you come out 5-1 or 6-0, fantastic, but that’s going to determine how you play the rest of the league.

“You must control your division to win your division. You might get lucky and win it, but you have to really control it. I think that’s the big thing they have to do, really concentrate on those three teams in their division. Everything else will work out. You’re going to play some good teams, we know that, but take care of your division and let the other chips fall where they may. I think they got a very good chance, I like what they’re doing.”

Under Center Podcast: What's the Bears' ceiling this year?

Under Center Podcast: What's the Bears' ceiling this year?

After the Bears' statement-making 25-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night, Laurence Holmes, Lance Briggs, Matt Forte and Alex Brown sat down to talk about how far they think the Bears can go this season. They also debate whether they trust kicker Cody Parkey after a 3-3 performance, and look ahead to Thanksgiving Day's matchup with the Lions. 

You can listen to the entire podcast right here, or in the embedded player below. 

Cody Parkey’s bounce-back game reveals something important about the 2018 Bears

USA Today

Cody Parkey’s bounce-back game reveals something important about the 2018 Bears

 Cody Parkey, of course, noticed the two news helicopters hovering over Soldier Field Wednesday night. Maybe they added a little bit of pressure to his kicking practice session four days before he connected on all three of his field goal tries — including a game-clinching 48-yarder — in the Bears’ 25-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings. 
Or maybe the literal hovering over his every move didn’t affect him at all. 
“They just added a little extra wind for me,” Parkey quipped. 
Parkey’s confidence in himself didn’t waver after he missed four field goal attempts off an upright a week ago, even if the rest of Chicago might’s lost faith in their team’s kicker. While Matt Nagy framed his calling of a pair of two-point conversion attempts after the Bears’ two touchdowns Sunday as wanting to be aggressive (“we just felt like we had some good stuff down there in that area,” he said), perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence it came a week after his kicker missed two PATs. 
But Nagy’s confidence in Parkey was there when he called on him for that 48-yard field goal with a little under three minutes remaining in, at the time, an eight-point game. Had Parkey missed the kick, Minnesota would’ve taken over possession in optimal field position to drive downfield and tie the game. 
Instead, Parkey nailed the kick, and nearly the entire Bears’ sideline rushed onto the field to celebrate with him. 
“Parkey’s a dog, man,” outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. “Practice makes perfect. He’s a great kicker and I’m glad he got back to showing it.”
“You support your guys,” defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. “There’s always going to be people out there that are hard on you that can never do what you do. I think that’s he’s handled it very well. Very respectful, very humble about it, and he came out tonight and he played one of his best games for us.”
“We all believed in him in the locker room,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky said. “There was never a doubt. That happens week to week in the NFL. But we just continue to come together closer as a team, support our guys, have each other's back. I'm happy for Cody. He was big time tonight. He definitely delivered for this team and put some points on the board when we needed them. They were crucial, and he did a heck of a job.”
And cornerback Prince Amukamara: “We knew that he had a tough time last week and was very hard on himself. For him to hit the first one and hit the last one, we knew how huge that was and he crushed it. He ended up breaking us down at the end right here. And that goes with what I've been saying all year, we have genuine love for each other and guys celebrate others' success."
That last point is important. The Bears have a certain positive spirit in their team, one instilled by Nagy that permeates every corner of Halas Hall. How often do you see so many players sprint off the sideline to celebrate with their kicker after he hits a field goal that isn’t a game-winner? 
“That was pretty cool,” Parkey said. “Obviously they saw me down last week and they picked me up. I think that’s just really special about this team and it shows how close we are.”