Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears Head Coach: A Mind Snatcher?

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IJanuary 4, 2017

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you are a big fan of the NFL, you may have seen how the attitude of some head coaches affects their players. Doesn't it seems that these players somehow take on the personality of their head coach? 

Some perfect examples from the past and present include the Giants team that beat the Patriots just a few seasons ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers of today and just a couple of years ago, as well as the 1985 Bears.

Any fan will know that New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has quite a red hot personality and that he demands a lot of his players.  On the field, the Giants generally take his personality—playing games with a lot of intensity and passion.  Just watch any game that the Giants played during their Super Bowl-winning season and you will see that the players are very aggressive and very intense just like their head coach.

The same can be said about the Pittsburgh Steelers of the Mike Tomlin era.  This team has gone to the Super Bowl twice during the time that Tomlin has been with the team, and you can tell that his serious, work hard attitude has rubbed off on his players.  That has really seemed to work well for them.

Finally, remember the 1985 Chicago Bears?  The same team that went to the Super Bowl by tearing up the NFL while losing just one game?  On the field, the Bears had the same work hard, take-no-prisoners attitude that both Head Coach Mike Ditka and Defensive Coordinator Buddy Ryan had when the team went to the Super Bowl.

If you notice, these teams were all winners.  They all won a Super Bowl (or two in the case of the Steelers) and all had ongoing success after they won their league titles.

In the spirit of Halloween, this writer thought he would take a look at just how the calm demeanor of Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith may be rubbing off on his players.  Perhaps some of the Bears problems are directly related to the demeanor of their head coach?  Let’s take a closer look.

Ever since Smith arrived in Chicago, we have seen just how calm and cool he is.  In the press conference introducing him to the media, Smith was very calm and very cool and never got “excited” about coaching the Bears.  He laid all of his plans on the line and left it at that.  There were many people who felt that this new calm attitude would be good for the team and would help him build bonds with the players and make the transition much easier.

Besides, former head coach Dick Jauron was a calm guy like Smith, so this would help give the coaching style some continuity from one coach to next.  The Bears were happy that they had their man.

As Smith’s career with the Bears went on, some people started to see that it took a lot for Smith to get fired up.  He has struggled to show any emotion at all either during games, towards his players or after games (especially after losses).  Everything was (and always has been) good and solid or it can be fixed.  He never raises his voice he never shows any great emotion.

Is this a negative when the coach doesn’t express his emotion?  Not really when he’s directing it towards the media, but any team that has success needs to have a guy that can fire up his players and get them pumped up and ready for the game. 

Smith is not that kind of guy.  He’s not one that‘s going to have that fire and brimstone speech to get his team pumped up and ready before the game.  He’s not the guy that’s going to pull a player to the side and let him have it after a bad play.

And Smith is certainly not the kind of guy that’s going to give his team a piece of his mind after a big loss.  This hasn’t happened and won’t happen.

So what kind of effect does a coach like Smith have on his team?  Does this kind of attitude take the aggressiveness out of a team and hurt their chances of winning?

Before we explore that any further, we need to take into consideration the role of Tony Dungy and the 2006 Indianapolis Colts.  Keep in mind that this was the team that the Chicago Bears lost to that season in the Super Bowl and also remember that the Colts head coach was Tony Dungy a guy with the same demeanor as Smith.  So having that quite and calm demeanor can equate to a win.  It’s not all bad all the time.

But those teams with head coaches that instill the same attitudes that they have, in their players, generally tend to have much more successful teams.  In this, the Bears players aren’t the most aggressive players on the field when they are playing games.  Yes, you see them trying to strip the ball and recover fumbles but for an overall aggressive nature, the Bears lack this.  

It’s a clear reflection of their coach.  Smith has helped them build the soft attitude that they have as well as the will to explain away problems and figure that things will take care of themselves “in the next game”.  You can tell that this is the attitude that the players have in listening to their post-game locker room conversations (especially Cutlers).  You always hear the “we will get it taken care of next week” line coming out of the players mouths after a loss.  You never hear anyone take a lot of blame and get mad about what has just happened.

Without that kind of attitude, teams do not do as well as teams with that kind of attitude and that may be part of the Bears problem.  They have absorbed the same "hands-off", don’t-care attitude that their coach has displayed, and this has hurt them in being able to win games.

So perhaps Smith has invaded the bodies and minds of his players with the attitude that he has and has caused them to not play as well they possibly could have? 

Maybe so.