Four downs with Ditka
BY MIKE DITKA July 6, 2013 1:33AM
Mike Ditka sings during the 7th inning stretch....JON SALL/SUN-TIMES
Updated: July 8, 2013 11:26AM
1. The Bears were 10-6 last year, yet that was considered a disappointing season and even got Lovie Smith
fired. With a new coach and improvements at several positions, what will the expectations be this season?
Very high. You have to say that your expectations when you get into the National Football League are to win your division, win the NFC and, eventually, the Super Bowl. Evidently, the new management felt they needed to make a change. When you win 10 games in the NFL, that’s pretty [doggone] good. So is it fair or unfair? I don’t have the answer to that. All I’m saying is Lovie did a good job. He was a good man and a good coach. They’re looking to go in a different direction, though, probably to expand the offense. Marc [Trestman] is an offensive-minded coach. He has a great record developing quarterbacks, and he’ll be good for Jay Cutler. I think they feel they’re in a better position now than they were then, that’s all.
2. The Bears’ offensive line was completely overhauled. How long will it take them to come together and play well as a unit?
I don’t think it’s rocket science. You know, football is football. You can only run so many runs, throw so many passes and have so many formations. You can’t clutter them up. I don’t think that’ll be the hard part at all. I think the main thing you want to keep doing is improving personnel. If you need some offensive linemen, you have to find a way to get them. You have to get better in that area and make sure Jay Cutler has protection. You want to be able to run the ball a little more efficiently. I think that’ll take some pressure off the quarterback and the passing game.
3. Much has been made of statistical data analysis in sports lately. The Bears even created an analytics position this year. Do you buy
You have to have checks and balances for what you’re doing. You have to know what your efficiency ratings are in certain areas — throwing the ball, first down, second down, third down. You have to break all that down. I did that with coach [Tom] Landry for years. Sometimes you look at that, even as an assistant coach, and you say, ‘‘Is it that important?’’ Well, I think it is. Once you instill in the players’ minds that there are goals they have to meet and once they see that they’ve reached those goals and they’re having success, they buy into it pretty quickly.
4. Several times, you have tried to will your winning ways on the Cubs by singing ‘‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game.’’ Will they ever win the World Series in your lifetime?
I think that comes down to making the proper decisions in the front office. You have to have good players. Now, I don’t know how good their players are or aren’t, but I do know their production is not very good. So whom do you blame? Well, I think the blame goes to a lot of people. But it’s the organization that has to get the right people in there, and the people you get in there, you can’t overestimate their talents. They have to be able to play. You look around and say, ‘‘What’s the problem?’’ Is it the players, the farm system, the manager? It’s not the manager. You can only manage what you have. You can’t pull a jackrabbit out of a hat. That’s all there is to it.