DA BEARS, ALL DA TIME!

Lovie to get an Extension after a Playoff Win?

This time just 12 months ago, most people expected and almost everybody clamored for Lovie S mith to be fired after the end of  last season. 3 straight years NOT making the playoffs, after seemingly being on the cusp of a great run following the Super Bowl appearance in 2006. The trade for Jay Cutler  the previous offseason hd yet to show any dividends in the win-loss column. And we seemed light years behind what the Vikings, with their all-star laden lineup, and the Packers, with their stud young QB Aaron Rodgers, were doing.  Rumors swirled of Bill Cowher coming to make things right in the Windy City.

But Angelo decided to keep Lovie Smith. Promoted Rod Marinelli to Defensive Coordinator, a role he had never played in 20+ seasons of being in the NFL. Afgter failed attempts at wooing the Vikings’ Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell and the Broncos’ former Offensive Coordinator Jeremy Bates, the Bears seemed to ‘settle’ on Mike Martz, who had some bright years in St Louis, but was marred recently by clashes with head coaches and  players.  Mike Tice was brought in to coach the offensive line.  Three former head coaches on a staff with a current head coach?  Admittedly, I began having visions of Mike Tice wrestling Mike Martz to the ground after calling 99 consecutive passing plays…Rod Marinelli and Lovie Smith arguing about whether Brian Urlacher should drop 25 or 35 yards back in the Tampa-2.

After a winless preseason that was difficult to watch, the team started out fast, going 3-0. Then came the Giants game, where Jay Cutler almost had to be scraped off of the turf with a putty knife, followed by a win against a Carolina team that would be relegated for the University of Alabama if this were the English Premier League. Then, we lose to two BAD teams in the Seahawks and Redskins. Even after a win versus a CRAPPY Buffalo team that put us at 5-3 going into the second half of the season, it looked like DOOM. The offense was sputtering, the defense couldn’t pick up all of the slack, and our second half schedule looked BRUTAL.

Then something AMAZING happened. Martz called more running plays. Devin Hester went to a completely different stratosphere of kick and punt returning. Chris Harris gained a step I’m not sure he even had when he was here the first time. Matt Forte started playing like a 6-foot 2-inch, 220 -pound version of Marshall Faulk. Jay Cutler stopped throwing interceptions. We win 6 of 7, and clinch the NFC North!

So now alot of the same people who were going to help push the Lovie Smith Express out of Chicago are now talking contract extension. Here is the story from the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/ct-spt-0107-haugh-bears-chicago–20110106,0,7478908.column

From the outside looking in, he has won 3 division titles and taken us to a Super Bowl.  In the 44 seasons since the AFL-NFL Merger, only Ditka did that here. It seems like with Lovie Smith, however, people are more likely to remember the 3 losing seasons, or the draft pick busts, like Rex Grossman, Michael Haynes, Cedric Benson, etc. They remember him for letting Thomas Jones walk for practically nothing. They remember him for dumping Ron Rivera for his pal Bob Babich. Maybe its because we lost the one Super Bowl Lovie Smith coached. Maybe its because we thought, for sure, we would be back the following year.  Maybe its left over bitterness from the unrealized potential of the 1982-1988 Bears teams. Maybe its because Lovie doesn’t stomp and yell and curse. Think of all the intense players and coaches that have come through Chicago. Dick Butkus. Mike Ditka. Michael Jordan. Imagine if they would have had the demeanor of Lovie Smith?

I have been one of Lovie Smith’s biggest critics. When teams are 5-yard slanting our defense all the way down the field, and the cameras cut to Lovie standing there with that dumb look on his face, it can be downright MADDENING.  The shuffling in and out of players this season was almost as confusing as his past history of stubbornness to bench underperforming players.  Some of his in-game decisions (NOT challenging Jay Cutler’s fumble on the goal line versus Washington) are, to say the least, questionable.  But, in Lovie’s defense, he:

a) has seemed to put together a pretty good staff–Martz has the offense putting fear into opposing defenses; Tice has done alot with a patchwork offensive line group, and Rod Amrinelli has the defense attacking and creating takeaways. Maybe he was always a better Tuesday through Saturday, administrative-type coach who needs to delegate the gameday play-calling and game-planning to be successful. There is nothing wrong with that. Dick Vermiel was that way. Tom Landry was that way. Don Shula was that way.

b) He has the unwavering support of his players. They love the way he NEVER puts their business out in the press, and NEVER uses the media to leverage his players to play better or act a certain way. And if you don’t think having the support of your players is important, see what happened in Dallas and Minnesota this year.

One luxury the Bears have in regards to Lovie Smith is that he is already signed through 2012.  So, regardless of what happens this year, if the Bears follow it up with another strong season and playoff appearance, maybe he gets another contract extension. And, as much as I am surprised to find myself saying this, maybe he deserves it, even if only a little bit.

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8 responses

  1. Lincoln1

    Lovie best year as a coach has been this year. But he got hired 7 years ago. Like John stated there is no reason to give him an extension, but knowing the bears and how they do business I suspect they will give him one. They are a bad organization for a reason

    January 8, 2011 at 11:02 am

  2. Powerful Peter

    Its a sad day when a coach who wins 11 games out of 16 has to worry about his job. The trouble with most Bear fickle fans is “WHAT have you done for me lately”? I’m impressed with Lovie big time this year and yes like all of us he missed the mark a time or two or three to say the least but overall the players responded and we are in the friggin playoffs as the 2nd seed GO BEARS win or lose this year.

    January 8, 2011 at 1:13 am

    • I think people are quick to forget what it was like to have Dave Wannstedt or Dick Jauron…

      January 8, 2011 at 8:09 am

    • I think this next draft will have a big impact on the success of next season. we have to get an impact player at the WR, OT/OG, and S.

      January 8, 2011 at 9:05 am

      • johnnyharvard

        Free Agency, and our depth guys on the team now being groomed & promoted is going to determine a lot too. Most draft picks take a couple years to be starters.

        January 8, 2011 at 10:06 am

    • johnnyharvard

      All true Peter, but there is still no reason to extend him. He and the staff will be here next season. I think its smart to see how they follow this year up. Lovie has done a good job I think, but even in a year where he’s done a good job there are some questionable decisions sprinkled in as well. I think its just smart business to let this season ride and see ow next season goes. Especially with some great options for replacements as head coach out there, including a couple three guys off this staff.

      January 8, 2011 at 10:03 am

  3. johnnyharvard

    Ben you have to consider the source this story came from. David Haugh is a boob! Sometimes he will make sense but mostly he won’t. He making the comparison to Harbaugh money shows you how speculative and off the cuff his inspiration for a story is. He’ll change his mind 20 minutes later and write an article completely contradicting his last one. The Bears have absolutely NO reason to re-up lovie. I don’t think theres anyway it happens. And if it did it would have a buyout clause this time and it would probably be for significantly less years. I think theres a lot said for continuity, but only if its properly rewarded for success. The whole staff is here for another year it looks like. Unless the Bears re-invent football in the post season I don’t see anyone of significance leaving here. The coaching staff is the only reason to even want Lovie back. But next year if they do well and I expect them to there will be guys leaving for greener pastures. Tice still wants to be a head coach and it appears Martz does as well. I think both might get that chance, but I wouldn’t completely count on it. Especially Martz who has a black mark with going out badly from his disputes with management in St.Louis. Thats a documented fact. So Owners and GM’s may be a little hesitant. Plus he’s older now so what is his shelf life like and how long will he have the energy and commitment to it. Tice is younger, but is he a head coach? maybe coordinator is his thing. he could get an O-coordinator job if he wants probably. Hoke may get a higher position somewhere. Toub for sure is probably a goner if not after this season than next. I’m surprised people haven’t come asking for permission to interview him for a coordinator job or even a head coach gig. But I don’t see extension here. Not this year. If they did it would be much less of a guarantee than this last one.

    January 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm

  4. Lincoln1

    Giving this guy an extension would be the dumbest move they could possible make. You do not give extensions based on one season. That is what bad organizations do, which is why they will probably do it. people can give Lovie all the credit if they want to, but the fact remains that if the packers did have 20 + injuries this season or if the vikings had not become stupid over one off season we are not in this position today…..The bears have to prove that they can sustain success before you give this guy an extension. The bears however have not shown that they can d o that

    As for giving Lovie credit for the coaching staff, thats pushing it as well. Martz never would have gotten this job if others had not turn this job down. They offered the job to several other guys who all said no before they settled on Martz. If Martz would have been given the job right off the bat I would tip my cap and great job bears. But the fact remains that they still screwed up the entire process and in the end just got lucky.

    That whole press conference by Angelo yesterday was just weird. But thats the bears as an organization

    January 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm

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