Lovie Smith may not be all that lovable, but is he the 20th best coach in the NFL?
This was the very rank given to him in a poll of “former NFL scouts” done by the Sporting News. They must have been former scouts from Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota, and both New York and New England—the two places where they look down their noses at anyone not from New York and New England.
Sure Smith is not the best coach in the league, and he has some weaknesses as all head coaches do.
Certainly Lovie looks like he’s ready for a nap at times in games, and his decisions on accepting/declining penalties or clock management make it seem like he made them while he just woke up.
His ability to relate to fans through the media is about one on a scale of 1-to-5, and I’ve heard several reporters call him one of the most “insincere” head coaches they’ve ever dealt with in the league.
While that’s stretching it, in my opinion, they do make a good argument.
Then again, the man is paid mainly to coach the football team. So, that type of stuff probably shouldn’t even factor into this decision.
Let’s start with the most ridiculous part of this poll.
The Saints’ Sean Payton is ranked 14 spots ahead of Smith in sixth.
Yes, it’s the same Sean Payton who has been Smith’s personal doormat three straight seasons as the Bears won against the Saints 27-24, 33-25, and 39-14.
This offensive genius, who has a Pro Bowl quarterback, might want to start with a single victory over Smith before he gets a higher ranking. Payton is your typical one-trick pony coach, a guy who should have remained an offensive coordinator because he knows nothing about defense and coaching an entire team.
Dick Jauron, who was fired by the Bears and replaced by Smith, is rated better than his successor at No. 18. Dick was the nicest guy who ever walked the Bears’ sidelines in a headset, but if you really want to see a coach who knows how to mismanage the clock you’ll start with him.
Lovie looks like a Rolex manufacturer by comparison.
They must really like 7-and-9 seasons in Buffalo, because Jauron has produced three in a row since becoming head coach and is still running the show.
Get in the playoffs?
Jauron couldn’t even get in the team mess hall when he was with the Bears.
Several of us reporters stood watching in disbelief when a security guard at the training camp dining hall refused to let him in unless he went and got his mess hall pass—even though the guy had seen Jauron going in everyday of training camp.
The nicest man in the NFL simply went back to get his pass and returned, then ate.
Mike Singletary is ranked ahead of Smith in 14th.
He takes his pants off one leg at a time like anyone else. Singletary has coached nine NFL games and only has the job because someone entirely incompetent had it before he did.
Why not toss Todd Haley and Rex Ryan ahead of Smith, too?
Norv Turner was 13th. He’s been so bad that he’s made them talk wistfully of Marty Schottenheimer in San Diego. Great defense, good quarterback, all-time great running back, and Norv still hasn’t been in the Super Bowl like Lovie has.
Wade Phillips comes in at 15. Maybe he gets brownie points for putting up with Jerry Jones, Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, and Tank Johnson, but the Cowboys still haven’t won a playoff game since 1996.
At some point, success counts as much as perseverance.
Brad Childress, (or is that really Burt Reynolds’ assistant coach Herman Stiles from Evening Shade?) Mike McCarthy, (one winning season in first three, 6-and-10 without Brett Favre) and Jack Del Rio (the wood chopper) all rank ahead of Smith.
So does Jim Mora Jr., whose only duty in Atlanta each week was to unleash Michael Vick and let him run around looking like a dog, searching for a bone he buried in the back yard.
In truth, Smith probably belongs about where the Bears finished last year, 13th or 14th best.
They missed the playoffs, so keeping him out of the top 12 has merit.
But, let’s not confuse him with the likes of Dick Jauron.
Lovie has never even been kept out of the mess hall in Bourbonnais.