I’ll say this on behalf of football’s old guard: These living legends do not mince words when it comes down to throwing down fair criticism.
And, perhaps, because Dick Butkus is one of the baddest MFers to suit up for the Chicago Bears, someone will listen and react accordingly moving forward.
In an appearance on the Stacking the Box podcast, Butkus brought out the flame-thrower when talking about the Bears. For what it’s worth, some of the highlights come off sounding like the audio version of that classic Simpsons “old man yells at cloud” headline meme. But in some cases, the old man makes some valid points. At minimum, they’re points that have been made by folks who have been watching the Bears this season.
⇒ On watching rookie quarterback Justin Fields play behind this offensive line: “They’re going to kill that kid. Our offensive line ought to be arrested for attempted murder.”
In the interest of fairness, the offensive line hasn’t been “lock ’em up and throw away the key” bad since the Browns game. Jason Peters owns the 17th best grade among tackles from PFF, which has 79 total qualifiers. James Daniels checks in with the 23rd highest grade among guards, while Cody Whitehair is 30th. Both grade out among the top half of players among the position group. Not to say PFF grades are the be-all, end-all, but there are objective and subjective measures to consider here.
⇒ Criticism of Matt Nagy’s play-calling: “I can call the plays every game. Come on. Who’s coming up with the game plans?”
It’s not that I feel bad for Nagy. In fact, I feel as if he should still wear some of the criticism about how the offense performs because it’s still his plays, schemes, and designs. But it’s still mildly frustrating to see Nagy get all the blame when things don’t work, but none of the accolades when things look better. All things considered, I don’t think Butkus is off base with his criticism of the offense. Even if I think it’s not all directed at the right place.
⇒ Regarding the team’s defensive struggles: “A couple other people should be arrested for imitating cornerbacks.”
Opposing quarterbacks are putting up a 150.3 passer rating and completing 72.5 percent of their passes when targeting Kindle Vildor, who has been in on all 585 defensive snaps this season. Things aren’t any better when it comes to Duke Shelley, the slot corner who is allowing QBs to complete passes at aa 76.9 percent clip while posting aa 102.6 passer rating. Chicago’s secondary has some issues, to say the least.
Ultimately, Butkus lands in a similar place many Bears fans find themselves at the bye.
“I’m very frustrated,” Butkus said. “I think George McCaskey and the Bears head office should be doing some drastic things.”
The Bears — who have never fired any coach during the season — probably aren’t going to buck a 100-year trend, make history, and jettison Nagy, GM Ryan Pace, or any other decision-makers right now. Expecting them to do so would be illogical. But for what it’s worth, there has been ample chatter about the future of the powers that be. So, for now, that must suffice in lieu of a thirst for a blood sacrifice being quenched.
At the end of the day, I struggle to find points of contention for Butkus’ arguments. Maybe Butkus was a bit over the top with his assessment of the offensive line. And I doubt Butkus truly believes someone should be arrested, even if crimes against football sensibilities are taken seriously in this household. But at its core, Butkus’ statements aren’t anything Bears fans, analysts, content creators, observers haven’t been discussing this year. It’s just that now it comes from an all-time legend.
And maybe — just maybe — someone with some gravitas saying the loud part even louder will move the needle.
There’s plenty more where that came from, and you can check it out in its entirety below: