Jim McMahon disses Mike Ditka's playcalling as Bears head coach

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Alex Shapiro
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Jim McMahon disses Ditka's playcalling on recent podcast originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The 1985 Bears fielded the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFC, had a superstar in Walter Payton, and perfectly complemented the team’s dominating defense. So you think everything would be hunky dory in Jim McMahon’s huddle, right? Apparently that was not the case. In a recent interview with 12/52 Sports Entertainment, McMahon revealed that he and Mike Ditka didn’t always see eye-to-eye when it came to running the offense.

“We didn’t agree on certain ways of getting a victory,” McMahon said. “He thought he was an offensive coordinator… He was a tight end when he played, and he was a great tight end. I would’ve loved to have played with him. But he called plays like a tight end.

“He would send stuff in that was like, ‘Wow, where’d that come from?’ Thank god the guys in my huddle understood that I knew the game. That I understood the game and understood what we were trying to do. So no matter what play I called, they were going to block it, no matter what.”

That’s not to say he and Ditka had a bad relationship, or that there were hard feelings between the two. McMahon just took it upon himself to make some executive decisions on the field, as several other top-tier quarterbacks have been known to do.

“We had a lot of laughs in the huddle,” McMahon said. “The play would come in and I’d say, ‘Hell, we’re not going to call that.’ We’d get some chuckles, and then I’d say, ‘Hey, we better make this other one work, because my ass is on the line here.’

“They always had my back, and they always played hard for me.”

That initiative is something McMahon thinks all great quarterbacks need. The spotlight shines brightest on the QB position as the leader of the offense, so McMahon believes they should embrace that responsibility, even if it comes with criticism.

“They get a lot of the blame, and some of it they deserve,” McMahon said. “But somebody’s got to be able to take control of the game. You don’t let the coach control what you’re doing on the field. That’s what practice is all about. They can give you some advice during practice, but during the game? C’mon, leave me alone. I know what the hell I’m doing. I know how to get things done, and I think a lot of guys, they’ll call whatever play is called and deal with it, then say after the game, ‘Well, coach called that play.’

“There’s always a fallback position. I didn’t care. If I screwed up, I’d say, ‘Yeah, I messed that up.’ But I’m going to do it my way. And I won a hell of a lot more than I lost.”

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