- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Apparently, ESPN analyst and former Bears coach Mike Ditka isn’t expecting a long stay in the playoffs from any NFC North teams.
Speaking on ESPN's “Mike & Mike” on Monday morning, Ditka lit into every team in the division and levied harsh criticism at Chicago’s struggling defense.
“It’s not a good division right now,” Ditka said. “Detroit, that’s amazing to me. And the Bears' defense ... they have no concept of defense. It’s terrible. It’s embarrassing to watch them play in the secondary. It’s embarrassing to watch their tackling, their concept of defense, their setting the edge on the strong side, of forcing a play, of containing a play on the back side. They don’t have all of those elements. So in saying that, you’ll never mix them up with Doomsday or the Fearsome Foursome or anything like that.”
The Bears surrendered 406 yards in Sunday’s loss to the St. Louis Rams, including 258 yards on the ground. Having allowed 4,136 yards through the first 11 games, the Bears are on pace to smash the franchise mark for yards given up in a season (5,729).
But the Bears have also played several games without starters, most notably franchise defensive tackle Henry Melton, linebackers Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams, and cornerback Charles Tillman. Melton, Williams and Tillman are out for the remainder of the regular season, as are nickel corner Kelvin Hayden and Melton’s primary backup, Nate Collins.
In sizing up the rest of the division, Ditka said for “Green Bay, it’s gut check [time],” adding that Minnesota is going to "beat some teams [in the division] at the end of the year. I’ll guarantee they’re not that bad of a football team. Their defense is too good; they’ve got a great running game. They do some things well enough to beat some of these teams because none of these teams is that good. The Bears aren’t that good. Detroit evidently is not that good. Green Bay isn’t that good without [quarterback Aaron] Rodgers. So it’s going to be up for grabs all the way down.”