Lovie Smith's 10 Worst Head Coaching Decisions
There is no good way of saying this, but Lovie Smith should have been fired this past offseason.
Plain and simple.
Ron Turner, while equally as terrible, should not have been just a scapegoat he should have been just part of the package.
Lovie Smith has shown, beyond a shadow of a doubt in my opinion, that he is no longer capable of coaching the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl, and if he isn't capable of that, then he shouldn't be in that position.
Each season, Lovie's decision making has gotten worse and worse. His schemes have become more and more out dated and exploited seemingly every week. Plus, his evaluation of talent has nosedived.
Watching Lovie Smith coach has been like watching a car accident in progress, except more boring.
Now, trying to bring this list down to just ten has been fairly difficult and then trying to put them in order has been even harder, but here are the 10 biggest errors, with a few honorable mentions.
While this list could be very long, here are three honorable mentions that just couldn't quite make the cut.
1. Charles Tillman not being put on Steve Smith in the 2005 playoff game. Smith was a one man wrecking crew that came as he abused the likes of Nathan Vasher and Alfonso Marshall but Lovie refused to put his best cover corner on him.
2. Any quarterback in the 2004 season...Chad Hutchinson, Jonathon Quinn, and Craig Krenzel.
3. Resting Rex Grossman in the final game of the 2005 season to rest him for the playoffs, which the Bears then lost.
No. 10: Thomas Jones debacle
This one is at No 10 because one can only blame Lovie so much for this move.
Thomas Jones was a really good running back for the Bears and the tandem of him and Cedric Benson was great duo. But when one drafts a running back with the fourth overall pick, both the organization and the draftee expect that player to be the franchise player, or at the very least, the dominating starter.
So to avoid any more locker room controversy (TJ and Cedric did not see eye to eye on very many things by all accounts) the Bears traded Jones to the Jets for a second round pick.
While the move was blasted at the time (and is continually being reminded in Chicago as Jones put together some very good seasons in New York) one can only blame Lovie so much for this one.
He did make the final decision by putting his full faith in Benson, but he must have been feeling some pressure from the front office to see what Benson had in store.
Despite the fact that many believed Ced was going to fail, both Lovie and GM Jerry Angelo didn't want to try justifying a multimillion dollar backup runner.
In the end, Jones succeed in New York, Benson failed in Chicago, and Lovie just continues to show his AMAZING ability to evaluate talent and character.
No 9: Refusing to Play Devin Aromashodu until Week 16
During last season's training camp, much was written about the rapport built between Jay Cutler and Devin Aromashodu.
At the time, many chalked it up to just being preseason and to the belief that training camp means very little, even after Cutler spoke up about how much he enjoyed playing with Devin A.
But of course, Lovie and Ron Turner felt it best that Aromashodu sit out the first 10 weeks of the season with some "injury" and finally, after the Bears were eliminated from the playoffs, they suddenly thrust him into the lineup where he excelled.
In the last four games of the season he recorded 22 catches for 282 yards and four touchdowns. Johnny Knox in comparison played almost the entire season and recorded only one more touchdown that Aromashodu.
And Devin Hester, who only missed a game or two brought in three touchdowns, despite having more than double the number of catches than Aromashodu.
Gee Lovie, ya don't think having a 6'2", 200 lb receiver who had built trust with his QB is a good player to have on the field?
No. 8: Any challenge flag Lovie has ever thrown
Every time Lovie throws the challenge flag, I get that sick feeling in my stomach because I immediately assume that we will be losing a timeout.
Seriously. it is embarrassing how wrong Lovie usually is.
I tried looking up stats on challenge flags and I couldn't find much. But somewhere there are numbers that support this. Any help is appreciated.
No. 7: Trading Chris Harris
Chris Harris was a solid safety with the Chicago Bears.
Now I am not saying he was a blow-my-mind, amazing player, but he certainly performed admirably at times, and certainly better than Danieal Manning ever played.
He played two years at free safety and while his resume was never overwhelming he did record 112 tackles, 1 sack and five interceptions. He also made probably the second biggest play for the Bears in their Super Bowl loss when he intercepted Peyton Manning in the first quarter. During the offseason, the Bears traded him to the Carolina Panthers for a fifth round pick...That is right, a FIFTH round pick.
Of course, then Harris then proceeded to record 96 tackles and force eight fumbles in that following season.
No. 6: Ron Turner
Ah, Ron Turner. Chicago Bears offense coordinator for a majority of Lovie's Smith tenure in the second city.
And ironically enough, his second stint with the Chicago Bears as the OC.
I mean, his first period with the Bears was so successful (a 32-32 record under Dave Wannstedt) that he totally deserved another chance to not deliver.
Sure you can point to his offensive line being poor or his QB's being inconsistent but the simple fact of the matter is Turner was not good when he needed to be.
Very rarely was a play called and executed and Bear fans sat there and said to themselves, "Wow, that was a great/gutsy play call."
And even when one of those rare events did occur, it would normally be followed up with a fullback dive for no gain and everyone would remember that Turner was useless.
This is on Lovie because he wanted Turner on board after the departure of Terry Shea (who was no great shakes either).
No. 5: Having cornerbacks line up eight yards off the line of scrimmage...
...despite the fact that it is third down with four yards to go.
This has been so maddening for the entirety of Lovie's years.
It just seems that Lovie only believes in having press coverage when it isn't needed.
How many times as Bears fans can you recall watching a third down and five yards or third and three and you sit there staring at the television going, "Why the hell is Charles Tillman/Nathan Vasher/Zachary Bowman standing eight yards off the line?"
Of course, that is the correct question as more than often, the opposing team would throw a slant pattern for seven yards and a first down...Super awesome.
And yet, Lovie wouldn't change a thing. How sad is it that fans have a better idea what is going to happen than the coaching staff?
What is the phrase? "The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." This logic escapes Lovie. Then again, logic and Lovie do not really go hand-in-hand.
No. 4: Adam Archuleta
Ah yes, one of Lovie's "Boys" back from the St. Louis Rams days.
Arch Deluxe was basically a flop from the get go.
In his one season with the Bears, he recorded 61 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a multitude of missed tackles and a wide array of nonexistent coverage skills.
Which I suppose could have been excused on Lovie's behalf. While Archuleta did so pitiful for the Washington Redskins, there should have been little expectations on Adam.
But throughout the entire preseason and the first few games every living, breathing Bears fan could tell that Archuleta was simply terrible. Yet Lovie kept sending him back out there as if doing the same thing over and over would confuse offenses into ignoring his weaknesses.
Arch Deluxe played in all but one game, including 10 starts. Mercifully, he was cut the following offseason. He never played another down in the NFL.
No. 3: Mike Brown/Alex Brown
Mike Brown and Alex Brown.
Apart from Brian Urlacher, these two men were the major leaders on defense for the Bears over the past couple seasons.
It was always said that if Brian Urlacher were the heart of the defense, then Mike Brown was the soul. And I find that to be fairly accurate.
Mike Brown was the player that if someone else messed up, he would get in their face and tell them both what they did wrong and how to do better.
Alex Brown was the guy, especially after Mike left, who would take responsibility for the defense failing to live up to their expectations. He wasn't scared to call out the team for poor performances, and that was likely one of the reasons he was let go.
Lovie is supposed to be a defensive guru, but it seems that ever since the Super Bowl year his defense has been getting progressively worse.
So of course to make things better, you get rid of two of your most vocal leaders on the team in the span of two years.
Mike Brown's release is a little bit more understandable. He had been injury prone and one could argue his skills had diminished over time, although if the great scheme was to replace him with the likes of Josh Bullocks, Danieal Manning and Craig Steltz then that makes me question Lovie's decision making.
But Alex Brown's release makes little sense to me. You get rid of your best defensive end because you want to free up that extra $5 million after paying out $90 million for an aging defensive end on the other side?
If Alex Brown had stayed with the Bears, he would have recorded double digit sacks playing across from Julius Peppers. Instead, the Bears are sticking with back up and underachiever Mark Anderson, defensive tackle Israel Idonije (who will be transitioning to DE) and two players who have seen a total of 10 plays combined in their NFL careers.
Super smart move Lovie...Smart.
No. 2: Moving Devin Hester to Wide Receiver
Hester scored a total of 14 touchdowns his first two seasons, while as the primary kick and punt returner and an occasional receiver.
Hester has scored a total of four (4) touchdown in the past two seasons as just a receiver.
And now Lovie Smith has come out firmly saying that Devin will still not be taking back kickoffs.
Listen, I understand that Johnny Knox, Danieal Manning, and even Earl Bennett are fine return men, but the simple fact is that Devin Hester is/was the greatest return man of all time and every Bears fan knows it.
But now, everyone has to listen to how Josh Cribbs is the greatest return man ever because he still gets the opportunities as opposed to Hester.
And while Hester has made some strides at the receiver, I would currently put him as the third best receiving option at the moment (behind Earl Bennett and Devin Aromashodu), and that is only because Johnny Knox was injured near the end of last season.
Moving Hester to receiver was supposed to extend his career but so far, it looks like it is getting shorter each game.
No. 1: Not bringing back Ron Rivera
Is it not interesting that ever since Ron Rivera left the Bears, the Chicago defense has gotten progressively worse each subsequent season?
I realize that it has always been "Lovie's" defense, but it just seemed to work better when Rivera was calling the shots.
And that was really because Rivera was willing to disagree with Lovie. If he didn't like something that was going on, he would change it, whether Lovie liked it or not.
In Rivera's first season in 2005, the Bears ranked No. 1 in team defense. In 2006, the Bears ranked third.
And then in the three years following his release, the Bears defense ranked as following: 16th, 16th and 22nd.
Coincidence? I think not. It had to do with opposite styles complimenting each other. Lovie had one concept of the defense, Rivera had another and when you combined them, they worked out.
You didn't get that when Bob Babich was in charge or when Lovie took over himself. The question now is if Rod Marinelli will put his friendship with Lovie aside if he disagrees with the scheme called or will he just sit by and let the defense get picked apart again.