Mike Ditka (Chicago Bears)
It’s amazing how much love and admiration Mike Ditka has been able to milk from Chicago Bears fans for what was frankly a B grade run as head coach during the 1980s and early ’90s. This is a man who inherited one of the greatest rosters in franchise history and in NFL history. A defense loaded with Pro Bowl talents including three Hall of Famers in Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary, and Richard Dent. On the other side, he has Walter Payton and a stacked offensive line.
All he had to do was find somebody who could help the quarterback position blossom. Instead he stuck to a rather archaic offensive style of ceaselessly running the ball and relying on an all-time defense. It worked for one year in 1985 but came up short every other year. He also had a bad reputation for alienating his players, which led to locker room fractures. There is no question that he left at least one or two more championships on the table. Several players have said so.
It’s fair to wonder what might’ve happened had they replaced him soon with a more forward-thinking coach at that time. Somebody who could’ve better protected Jim McMahon. No one will ever know.