Mike Ditka says Bears defense is one of the best he's ever seen


Mike Ditka knows a thing or two about defense. He was the head coach in 1985 when the Chicago Bears fielded what many consider to be the best defense of all-time. But that might change after this season.

It's way too early to say this year's Bears defense will even rival, let alone surpass, the dominance of that '85 Super Bowl champion. But Ditka isn't ruling it out.

“Well, I haven’t seen a defense much better ever," Ditka said via the Chicago Sun-Times. "They are well-coached. This season the defense is as good, maybe better than 1985.”

Is it possible that recency bias is at play here? Maybe. The Bears are coming off one of their best all-around defensive performances in the last two years after completely shutting down the Vikings in Week 4. They held the NFL's leading rusher, Dalvin Cook, to just 35 yards and may have broken Kirk Cousins and Minnesota's passing game. Literally. Both wide receiver Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are unhappy campers after what Chicago did to their aerial attack.

The best defenses usually have that one standout player who leads the way. The Giants teams that were led by Lawrence Taylor and the Ravens led by Ray Lewis come to mind. Khalil Mack is filling that role with the Bears in 2019.

“It is not a one-man defense, but you have to point out Khalil Mack has such an impact,” Ditka said. “What makes Mack special is he has what we call a quick-twitch ... he has strength ... he has great anticipation of the snap of the ball.”

Mack has 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles through the first month of the season and is frothing at the mouth to get after Derek Carr and his former team Sunday in London. He can strengthen his already MVP-worthy resume with a multi-sack game heading into the bye week.

Can this year's Bears team really challenge the '85 squad? In order to do so, they'll have to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at season's end. But even just the suggestion by Ditka that Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and the rest of this star-laden defense is in the same conversation as the shuffling crew is reason to be optimistic about what lies ahead in 2019.

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