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Four downs with Ditka

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What are your thoughts on the Bears firing Lovie Smith?

It’s foolish. You have a good man, you have a good coach. The coaches can’t control the injuries. I also know that when they bring in a new general manager, he wants to bring his own guy in there, and he wants to do it his way. So I understand that, but Lovie was a good coach. People say, well, they didn’t have the production on offense, but they had a lot of production on defense, so it was pretty good.

Can Notre Dame beat Alabama and win the national title on Monday?

It’s one game. Anything can happen — it could be a couple of big returns, a turnover, anything. I think it will be a good game, and Notre Dame will give them all they can handle. But if you’re asking me if I would bet against Alabama winning? No, never. Alabama, to me, that’s a team that could probably win a lot of games in the NFL. Having said all that, I really love what they have done at Notre Dame. I love what their coach, Brian Kelly, has done. I love what their defense has been able to do. And quarterback Everett Golson is getting better and better.

We keep hearing about Jay Cutler’s potential. Is he the real deal or is he overrated?

Potential is something that never happens. I don’t like that word. I think he has a lot of talent. If I had to give him any advice, I’d say, hey, you have to become more of a leader at that position. You must be the guy in control. And you lead by example. Not vocally, but by example. Everybody looks to the quarterback; they really do. On defense, everybody looks to Brian Urlacher. So Cutler needs to show exemplary leadership qualities.

The Bears have had nothing but defensive-minded head coaches since you left. Has this been a mistake?

No, I think you can play it both ways. If you have a good defense, you can certainly get your offense to do the right things. I think it all starts with defense, really. The thing that made our offense good is we had a guy named Walter Payton. We had a great offensive line. But that was a good team because our defense put us in a position to be good. They got us the ball, didn’t let the other team have the ball, so one side kind of works with the other. And when you get the ball, you need to be able to put points on the board. And we were capable of doing that for a while.

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