Lovie Smith Is Back: Grin and Bear It

Ed LeiserCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2010

DETROIT - JANUARY 03:  Head coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears looks on while playing the Detroit Lions on January 3, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Chicago won the game 37-23.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With the rumor mill already swirling around the NFL coaching world, the Chicago Bears announced that head coach Lovie Smith will be retained for next season. 

Smith, 52-44 in the regular season with the Bears , will be without much of his staff, however, as mass changes were made.

Most notably, offensive coordinator Ron Turner has been fired, along with several other assistants.

Fans across Chicago were calling for Smith's head for much of the season, but keeping Lovie in the fold is the right move for the future of the Chicago Bears.

The Bears finished an uninspiring 7-9 this season, which didn't bode well for Smith.

But rewind the clock just three seasons ago, when the Bears were on top of the world en route to a Super Bowl appearance as the cream of the crop in the NFC.

That was Lovie's moment in the sun as a head coach in the NFL.

It's true that the Bears are below .500 since and have failed to reach the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, but it is important to remember that Lovie was the general of that 2006 Bears army.

One of the biggest complaints you will hear from the common Bears fan is that Lovie is not passionate or doesn't rip into his players or referees like other hot-head coaches (Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, etc.).

But you can't fault someone for not doing something that he is not accustomed to. 

When Lovie was leading the Bears to back-to-back playoff berths and that Super Bowl, did you hear people complaining about Lovie's famed passiveness then?

Of course not.  Winning solves all, and the Bears were doing plenty of that.

Just listen to the players. They believe Lovie is the man for the job.

"I know that across the locker room you’ve heard it from a lot of guys that we think that he should be here,” linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer said. “I’m under the impression that he will be. I certainly hope he will be.”

Peanut Tillman feels the same way.

“He’s a proud man, and he was talking about 2010. We didn’t get it done this year, so he just really talked about 2010. We’ve got some time on our hands, and we have to do all the things in the offseason getting ready for the season so we can be successful."

Both Hillenmayer and Tillman are veterans of this Bears defense, and they have been with Smith for all the ups and downs, wins and losses.

Too many times, NFL franchises jump the gun and fire coaches based on recent poor performances. Al Davis of the Raiders certainly comes to mind for this category. 

In the NFL, coaches are hired to be fired, but that philosophy doesn't give the man a true opportunity to establish a style of play or a personality to his team.

Reports out of Oakland indicate that Tom Cable could be let go from the Raiders.

He compiled a record of nine wins, 18 losses. Not glamorous.

But that's not even 30 games. Shouldn't he deserve a chance to prove his worth at least through three seasons?

Is it his fault he had to choose between JaMarcus Russell, Bruce Gradkowski, and Charlie Frye as his signal-caller?

Did Cable envision an offense featuring a tight end (Zach Miller) as the leading receiver?

I'm not saying Cable walks on water; I am only stating how annoying the NFL coaching world is.

Here's a refreshing thought: Blame the players for not performing.

The players are the ones making the big bucks and are the ones who ultimately hold their team and coaches' fate in their hands.

A coach can not throw a crucial block in the red zone, but an offensive tackle can.

A coach can not guard Larry Fitzgerald, but Champ Bailey can.

A coach certainly can't rush for over 2,000 yards, but Chris Johnson can.

A key member of the Bears acknowledges this fact in his defense of Lovie Smith.

“At the end of the day it comes on us as players,” said defensive end Adewale Ogunleye. “We just weren’t performing at a consistent enough level enough for us to go the Super Bowl."

Thank God, the NFL has not gone completely insane. 

A football player taking the blame for a poor season. Thank you, Adewale Ogunleye.

Whether you like it or not, Bears fans, Lovie is here to stay.

The job for improving this team now rests squarely on the shoulders of general manager Jerry Angelo.

This is a team in need of a face lift on the offensive and defensive lines and in the defensive backfield.

Lovie Smith doesn't make the personnel decisions.

All he can do is work with what he has.

When Brian Urlacher goes down for the year and former Pro Bowler Nathan Vasher underperforms his contract, any coach will have his hands tied. With not enough quality backups on the roster, that is usually a recipe for disaster.

It's time to turn up the heat on Jerry Angelo, and let Lovie Smith do his job.


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