People criticize Mike Ditka a lot for how his coaching tenure went with the Chicago Bears. Could he have done things differently? Sure. However, the facts are hard to dispute. Only George Halas himself has more wins in team history. Ditka went to the playoffs five times, reached three NFC championships, and won a Super Bowl. Few other coaches in history have done that. Hence why Matt Nagy wasn’t shy about asking him for advice.
Nagy said his meeting with Ditka during the Bears’ 100th anniversary celebration was the highlight of the event for him. Being able to pick his brain on what went well for him during his heyday and how he can better handle coaching for this organization. Ditka had plenty to tell, but one particular quote stuck out to Nagy.
“You know, there’s really good players and then there’s not-so-good players. Get rid of the not-so-good players.”
Nagy said he waited for the punch line but soon realized the old coach was dead serious. It may sound like he’s trying to tell a joke, but what he said is no less true than any other piece of advice he could’ve given. The enemy of winning in the NFL is not-so-good players after all.
Matt Nagy can look back to Ditka’s arrival in Chicago for evidence
These weren’t just words either. Ditka lived by them when he became the head coach back in 1982. George Halas had tasked him with whipping that team into shape and he soon realized that a big part of the problem was several on the roster simply weren’t good enough. Mike Singletary described how he handled the situation.
From his first year in 1982 to their first winning season in 1984, they would have eight new starters alone. To say nothing of the sweeping changes across the bottom half of the roster. The effects were ground-shaking. Chicago went from being a typical cellar dweller to a juggernaut in the space of two years. A surefire sign Ditka had done his job.
Nagy has already made it clear that he is not above making those types of tough roster decisions if he feels it’s in the best interests of the team. Look at the trade of Jordan Howard for an idea. Being good in the eyes of fans or the media doesn’t necessarily make a player good enough to him. Some may disagree with that, but they aren’t the ones who put their livelihood on the line. Nagy has to do this his way, just as Ditka did all those years ago.