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.”