Look, it would be one thing if Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub left for a head coaching job.
But to let him go for a similar position with another team would be downright insane.
Yet that's what the Bears are facing if they don't increase their offer to Toub. Their exclusive negotiating rights with the special teams guru expires on Monday. As of Tuesday, Toub is free to entertain offers for similar positions from any team in the league.
Toub has been an outstanding coach for Lovie Smith and the Bears. If he left to coach the Miami Dolphins, whom he interviewed with for the head coaching vacancy, Bears fans would understand.
But if the Bears let him leave to be the special teams coordinator elsewhere, fans should be angry. Who do they direct their anger toward, though?
Is it the front office for being too cheap to pay the man what he deserves?
Is it Ted Phillips for being slow to hire a GM to take care of this situation?
Or is it Lovie, for not wanting Toub around anymore?
That last question may be valid, because we've seen other good coaches leave due to differences with Smith.
Now, I am not saying that they have differences; I am not aware of any issues between the two.
But there is some history to go on.
The Bears, and particularly coach Smith, seem to dislike when coaches get too much acclaim or when they interview with other clubs. One example of this occurred back when former defensive coordinator Ron Rivera openly professed his desire to be a head coach.
It's as if Smith wants to keep his guys down so they aren't a threat, or perhaps he feels they aren't being loyal to the Bears.
I will tell you one thing: I would not let Toub go over money. Whatever another team is offering is what I would be willing to pay—and with good reason.
As ESPN's Jeff Dickerson points out, "Under Toub's guidance, the Bears annually rank as one of the top special teams unit in the league, finishing No. 1 overall in 2006 and 2007. That consistency has come despite major roster turnover almost every year."
Dickerson goes on to say that, "With such a proven track record of success, Toub could be seeking a substantial raise in his next contract."
But what's wrong with paying for performance? That's how they used to do it in sports in the old days. A player (or coach/manager) would have his salary determined by his previous year's performance.
That was long before guaranteed contracts littered the sports landscape and million dollar bonuses were the norm in the NFL. Besides being a history lesson, the point is that Toub has earned a raise.
So who would take over as special teams coach is Toub does leave the organization?
Perhaps the most obvious solution would be to promote special teams assistant coach Kevin O'Dea, but I still say that it would be a damn shame if Toub left for the same role elsewhere.
Now, I recognize that Devin Hester can make any special teams coach look good. But Toub's units have earned high praise over the past eight seasons despite turnover in talent.
Consider the following:
- The Bears have blocked an NFL-best 21 kicks since 2004, Toub's first season with the Bears.
- Only eight missed field goals have been returned for touchdowns since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, and two have been under the Toub regime.
- Toub was the NFL's Special Teams Coach of the Year in 2006.
- With Philadelphia, Toub's special teams ranked first overall in each of his first two seasons with the Eagles.
- Since Toub's arrival, the Bears lead the NFL in punt return yards and touchdowns.
- Chicago's punt coverage unit ranks second overall since Toub's arrival in 2004.
- Toub has been associated with a special teams' No. 1 ranking in four seasons.
- In 2011, Corey Graham became the fifth Bears' special teams player selected to the Pro Bowl since Toub arrived in Chicago (Brendon Ayanbadejo (2), Devin Hester (3), Robbie Gould and Johnny Knox are the others).
Another thing that confuses me is that Lovie is always saying what a high priority he places on special teams.
Well, if that's the case, then don't allow Toub to go unless it's a promotion.
One thing is for sure: If Toub hits the open market, he will be in demand.
Unfortunately, that demand doesn't seem to be coming from the Bears.