Was Mike Ditka the greatest head coach in Chicago Bears history? No. Some might even say he’s a bit overrated, too revered by fans these days when in reality he probably wasn’t as successful as he should’ve been. Yet the facts don’t change. Ditka was the last head coach to win a football championship in Chicago. So maybe it’s okay to trust his word about anything Bears-related.

One thing that might be a bit hard to swallow is his take on quarterbacks. Ditka never hid his feelings on that position. He had a reputation for being hard on them. His treatment of Jim Harbaugh during the late 80s and early 90s was rather notorious, as evidenced by his reaction during a crushing loss to Minnesota in 1992.

Perhaps that hatred of quarterbacks had to do with his prior relationship with Jim McMahon. The former Pro Bowler was the brains behind Bears offense for most of the 1980s but had a rebellious streak that often infuriated Ditka. This inevitably led to clashes. Even though the two can’t say they liked each other, the old coach never lost any respect for his ex-QB.

In fact, he sees much of McMahon in the newest Bears signal caller.

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Mike Ditka sees even more talented version of McMahon in Mitch Trubisky

Ditka spoke with NBC Sports Chicago about the current state of the Bears going into 2018. He senses the optimism around the team and shares it. A big reason for that is the presence of second-year man Mitch Trubisky. Ditka believes Chicago has somebody that can get the team to the next level. He went so far as to say he might be an evolved version of McMahon himself.

“I like Mitch a lot, I really do. I think he is a good leader and has a lot of talent. I know he has heart and I think that’s the main thing.

I was with the guy who played quarterback for us last night, Jim McMahon, he wasn’t the most talented guy in the world but he knew how to play the position. He wanted to win. I think that’s the way Mitch is, but I think Mitch is a very, very talented guy.”

That’s high praise indeed. Ditka doesn’t offer that to just anybody. He might be a bit biased given his Bears background but the comparison to McMahon is an eye-opener. If it’s true? The team is in even better shape than first believed. People often forget how good of a player McMahon was during his heyday. Despite being trapped in a somewhat backward offense, he molded himself into the exact quarterback it needed.

At one point during his run, the Bears were 21-0 in games he was able to start and finish. He remains the last QB to make a Pro Bowl in Chicago. The numbers will never truly show how good he was. So if Trubisky is that caliber of player and then some? This team could be poised for big things in the near future.