Bears fans are bitter today and have every right to be. The team has missed the playoffs for the second-straight season and have had only one playoff appearance in the last five seasons. It may be tough, but as you reflect on another lost season, take the time out to remember Lovie Smith and what he did for the Bears.
There is no question Smith needed to be let go. After a 7-1 start, the Bears finished their season in a tailspin, losing five out of their final eight games. He was a head coach, and as the man in charge, he needed to be held accountable for a poor offense led by a man he hired.
What has transpired since Smith's firing is a lot of rejoicing by Bears fans. Without even knowing who the next coach is, a high sense of optimism has arisen from a frustrated fanbase.
While you wait to hear the rumors and watch closely to see who sits down with Phil Emery over the next couple of weeks, reminisce on the job Smith did over his tenure in Chicago. He was one of the team's most successful coaches and should be remembered that way.
Over his nine seasons, Smith was 81-63 with the Bears. He coached six playoff games, winning three of them. The Bears won their division three times, their conference once and sent 14 different players to the Pro Bowl.
The Bears won over 10 games in four seasons under Smith. That's three more times than the both the Dick Jauron and Dave Wannstedt era combined. They coached a total of 11 seasons after Mike Ditka was let go.
In a franchise that has seen 12 head coaches, Smith should firmly be ranked third behind two legends. Only George Halas and Mike Ditka were more successful than Smith.
Smith will be remembered by most for never winning a coveted Super Bowl. A feat much harder than some realize. Bill Belichick didn't win his first until his seventh and most importantly second team. Without a free spending owner and Hall of Fame quarterback who seemed to come out of nowhere, would he have any?
Tony Dungy won a Super Bowl in his 11th year as a coach and his second stop as well. It was against Smith's Bears in 2006 where Dungy got his only Super Bowl win.
What often gets lost in the shuffle is the connection Lovie Smith had with his players. Passion for his head coach is one of the major factors that drive a player like Brian Urlacher.
Julius Peppers came to Chicago to play for a man like Lovie Smith because he had heard so much. How many times did Mike Brown come back from injury after injury? He wanted to leave it all out on the field for Smith.
There's no way to predict the future. Smith will most likely get another head coaching job, but we don't know whether he will be successful or not. If he does win a Super Bowl elsewhere, it is because he earned it for being a good football coach.
Coaches are hired to eventually be fired. It happens to even the best of them. No need to revel in Smith's departure. It's simply not necessary and you don't know what awaits next season. Be excited for a new coach and possible change, but also take time to remember Lovie Smith for what he did. He earned it and deserves at least that from Bears fans.