Front seven is Back
The Chicago Bears at 7-3 are atop the NFC North tied with, their arch nemesis, Green Bay Packers. The Bears have been playing well on both sides of the ball as of late. With the defense and special teams playing like they’re back in 2006, the sky is the limit with this team. Devin is back to being Devin again and the front seven may be the best in football.
The Bears have one of the toughest schedules left to play in the final six games, and rumor has it that the Bears are looking to extend head coach Lovie Smith beyond next year. To give a vote of confidence prematurely would be crippling if things don’t work out in the coming months. For a coach that has only made the playoffs two of seven years, and missing three straight, making this rumor into fruition would not sit well with the Chicago Bears faithful.
Not so fast McCaskey family, don’t do the unthinkable and sign Lovie Smith to another multi-year extension in the middle of the year. His contract runs through next year, so there is no reason to jump the gun on a coach that could have been justifiably fired last season. With the lockout looming as well in 2011, the Bears organization shouldn’t be extending someone as controversial with the fan base during the year. Let’s see how these next few weeks pan out against much stiffer competition than we have faced in the first 10 games. Do us all a favor and wait out the rest of this year, and then make the decision with all the facts on the table.
Smith is a good leader, sticks up for his players, and doesn’t care about the name on the back of the jersey or zeros on the game check when it comes to playing time. The best Bear will play, and he hasn’t been shy about sitting a big named star because another player has given the Bears a better opportunity to win.
The main knock on Lovie is his ability to make quick in-game adjustments and lack of replay challenge success. He has mismanaged more games than I have fingers in his tenure. His challenge record over those seven years is 18 for 58 (31%) which is below the league average of 35%. In 2009 he was 2-10 and this year is 1-5, and he’s not helping himself out by missing blatant challenges where it is evident in the replay that he should have thrown the red hanky. These are real issues the Chicago Bears are dealing with, and throwing away timeouts at this rate is another reason this extension should wait.
Don’t get me wrong, being a head coach in the NFL is not an easy chore. The offensives are becoming faster, quick adjustments are needed, and the risk-reward decisions make this job tough. In this day in age, coaches should be winning their challenges at an alarming rate. Anything you can control in this game needs to be taken advantage of. Second and third looks, different angles, and team personnel watching replays in the press box should be a recipe for success. Coaches challenge win percentage should be the majority, not the minority. We continue to lose timeouts over this and it’s the difference in winning the close games throughout the year. Shore up these minor details and the playoffs will come more regularly for a franchise that has struggled to make the playoffs consistently.
When all is said and done, I hope we are celebrating a Bears Super Bowl victory, only 25 short years from last time the Lombardi Trophy was at Halas Hall, and then the contract extensions can be handed out.