Dick Butkus on Bears: ‘There’s no reason why they should be this bad’

Butkus watches the Bears as often as he can from his home in Malibu, California. He usually ends up frustrated — particularly last season, when the Bears had the NFL’s worst record.

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Dick Butkus watches Illinois play in 2019.

Dick Butkus watches Illinois play in 2019.

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

PHOENIX — Dick Butkus watches the Bears as often as he can from his home in Malibu, California. He usually ends up frustrated — particularly last season, when the Bears had the NFL’s worst record.

“There’s no reason why they should be this bad … ” he told the Sun-Times on Friday. “I get a little disgusted …

“I really get hot watching them, especially with a lot of lack of effort things. I don’t get it. I really don’t.”

The Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker said the Bears’ losing in recent years reminds him of when he challenged George S. Halas to find a winning head coach shortly after he fired Jim Dooley in 1971. Upon walking into his office at 173 W. Madison St., Butkus told Halas he didn’t think he wanted to win, and he thought the Bears founder might hit him.

“He got up and I thought he was going to take a poke at me,” Butkus said.

He didn’t. Butkus’ point was made, though: the Bears were the NFL’s founding franchise, and should act like it.

“Why have they been so bad?” he asked at Super Bowl radio row, where he was promoting NFL Alumni Association’s anti-obesity campaign called Huddle Up: Let’s Talk Obesity. “Is it the scouting department? What’s the answer here? To tell you the truth, I don’t know ...

“Look at the teams that are winning and look at their organization,” he said. “The ownership is the ones that hire. It starts from them too. They shouldn’t be void of any criticism.”

He doesn’t see Justin Fields as part of the problem,

Butkus said the quarterback “is going to be all right” — and then ripped the way he was handled by Matt Nagy and his staff as a rookie.

“That first year, I thought the coaching of him was terrible,” he said. “I said, ‘How is it that when he comes off the sideline and goes to the bench he takes his helmet off and puts on a baseball hat?’ If you watch Aaron Rodgers and Pat Mahomes and Tom Brady, when they get on the sidelines they’ve got the iPad and a coach right there.

“Where was that his rookie year? That group he was in there that rookie year, they didn’t coach him one iota, I don’t believe. So he’s moving along now.”

The coaching has improved under Matt Eberflus, he said. Now, he said, the Bears need to help Fields.

“Just like I told people when he first came in the league — the problem is, when he gets in, he’s gonna get hurt, because there’s nobody in front of him,” he said. “And that’s exactly what has happened. The kid’s running for his life.

“With a number of draft choices, maybe we can get some offensive linemen.”

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