Chicago Bears Plan on Extending Coach Lovie Smith's Contract: Why?

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIJanuary 25, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Head coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears looks on in the second quarter agianst the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The worst news to come out of yesterday's 21-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers has nothing to do with the injury or perception of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

It had to do with the press conference I heard today and the words coming out of GM Jerry Angelo's mouth.

I recoiled in horror listening to Angelo on the radio as he answered a reporter's question about extending Coach Lovie Smith and replied in the affirmative.

"We very much want to extend Lovie Smith for the job that he has done," said Angelo. "We were waiting until the season was over to address that, and we will do that in the next few weeks."

Why would he want to do that? Smith still has a year left on his contract paying him $5.5 million—quite a nice chunk of change.

The reason Smith was still here coaching the team was because of Angelo awarding him a contract extension after the 2006 Super Bowl loss when Smith had a year remaining on his contract.

The last time Angelo extended him, he caved in and made Smith one of the highest paid coaches in the league.

Had he waited until the next season was over, when the Bears didn't make the playoffs, he would have been in a position of power, and could have come in with a much more manageable contract that would not have handcuffed the team for the past several years.

The Bears played well below expectations for the next three years, and Smith was given a playoff or bust ultimatum before this season.

Those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it—so why would you extend Smith with a year remaining?

He was under pressure to perform this year and made the playoffs. While I think the Bears success was the benefit of luck rather than coaching wisdom, the added pressure did not hurt.

Why not keep it on for one more season? He shouldn't be rewarded for getting to the championship game.

The Bears basically got a bye to the NFC Championship, playing just one game against the worst team in the history of the playoffs in the Seattle Seahawks.

When talking about stocks, they say buy low and sell high. Why do the Bears keep on buying high and getting poor results?

They can still keep him after next year if they want to, but at their price instead of his if they don't make the playoffs—which I think is very likely. 

Just looking at yesterday's game against the Packers tells you all you need to know about Smith and why this is the wrong move.

The Bears won the coin flip and elected to kick off so they could put their defense on the field and receive the ball starting the second half.

That makes no sense with how hot Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been of late. He proceeded to take them down the field 84 yards in seven plays for a 7-0 lead that they never relinquished.

You could say the Bears lost by only seven points, but this was the biggest seven point blowout I have ever witnessed.

The Packers out-gained the Bears 252-103 in the first half, and had 13 plays of 10 yards or more, including five over 20.

Losing 14-0 late in the second quarter, Smith elected to punt instead of trying a 49-yard field goal by Robbie Gould, the fifth most accurate kicker in league history. Gould was three of four in tries over 50 yards this season.

You have to put some points on the board at that time and Smith elected to punt. The net gain for the Bears ended up being just 11 yards because punter Brad Maynard ended up kicking it into the end zone.

The Bears were fortunate to only be down by 14 at the half because the Packers marched up and down the field at will. Only another "lucky" play kept the margin from being larger.

Lance Briggs intercepted a pass intended for Donald Driver that hit Driver's shoe and bounced into Briggs waiting hands at the Bear 40 with around a minute or so left.

Cutler suffered an injury late in the first half and had to leave the game early in the third quarter.

So off the bench comes second-string quarterback Todd Collins.

He had one start this year when Cutler sat out the Carolina Panthers game with a concussion. Collins was intercepted four times in that game and was dropped to third-string.

For some strange reason, after the bye, he was elevated to the back-up while Caleb Hanie was dropped in the rotation.

Anybody who watched that game could see that Collins in no way belonged on a football field. The Bears played Collins for two sets of downs before he was mercifully pulled out of the game with Hanie taking over.

When asked after the game about putting Collins in instead of Hanie, Smith replied, "We thought that Todd should be the next one up."

Whether that was Smith's call or offensive coordinator Mike Martz's doesn't matter, because as the head coach, Smith has final say.

Hanie actually rallied the team twice to within a touchdown, before Lovie did his thing again. He called a timeout on 3rd-and-3 with the Bears on the Packer 27. It looked like running back Matt Forte was going to run for a first down until that call stopped the action.

The resulting play was an end-around by Edgar Bennett, the Bears' slowest receiver, and lost two yards to set up 4th-and-5 before Hanie threw an interception to end the hoped for miracle finish by the Bears.

That timeout gave the Packers time to strategize and end their Super Bowl dream.

After the game, former Chicago Bears Ed O'Bradovich and Doug Buffone did their post-game radio show on the Score in Chicago.

O'Bradovich said, "They didn't look like they came out ready to play."

Buffone added, "Anytime you have a team start out that slow, you have to put a lot of it on the coaching staff."

The Bears came out slower than Lovie talks.

Buffone then talked about the defense, Lovie's domain, and said, "Do something different."

The problem is that he's stubborn and doesn't know another defense. They might tweak things once in a while, but it's still the same outdated base defense that he goes back to.

Along with other Bear fans, I was disappointed in the Bear loss to the Packers yesterday, but I was far more disappointed listening to Angelo today that he is bringing Lovie Smith back.

Angelo will probably extend him through 2013, the same contract that Angelo and team president Ted Phillips have.

I could take losing the one game yesterday, but I don't know how I'm going to be able to survive the next three seasons with Smith coaching the team.

Can you?


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