The Current Status of Lovie Smith's Career
It's 4:36am EST, and I haven't slept a wink this evening/morning. So, my cure for insomnia was to come by and do some more post whoring, and in particular, add another two cents (or maybe a nickel?) to the ever-enduring flame that comes in the form of a passionate question by we Bears fans:
Should Lovie Smith be fired?
The answer to that query is not so simple. You see, he has led the Bears to a record of 58-47, good for a .552 winning percentage, as well as three winning seasons despite coaching less than stellar talent on the offensive side of the football. He has won two NFC North Division titles and coached the Bears to a berth in Super Bowl XLI before they fell tragically to the Indianapolis Colts as a result of Rex Grossman fumbling, stumbling, and throwing two costly interceptions, one of which was returned by Bob Sanders for a touchdown (and thus, sealed the Bears fate). While Lovie has struggled in the three seasons prior to now, it is important to note that he did manage to finish up with a winning record in 2008 despite struggles in all phases of the game. This year, he surrounded himself with former head coaches Rod Marinelli, Mike Martz, and Mike Tice to coordinate the defense, the offense, and the offensive line, respectively, and they have been been getting results, including marked improvements in performance from week to week. The Bears now currently sit at 7-3, in de facto sole possession of 1st place because of the win earlier in the season over the Packers, and have just come off two of their best defensive performances of the season, including a shut out of the Miami Dolphins.
From this brief historical narrative I just typed about Lovie Smith's career thus far in Chicago, my gut instinct tells me that will not be fired. He shouldn't be, after all, because the ultimate decision maker as far as the talent he will be dealt during any given season comes from the office of Jerry Angelo. Angelo's track record indicates that he is strong at drafting defensive talent in the lower rounds of the draft, but that he struggles with drafting quality first round picks, particularly when it comes to offensive players. (Need we talk about Rex Grossman and Cedric Benson?) Off the top of my head, I know that Lance Briggs was drafted in the 5th Round his rookie year, and he's turned into an All-Pro OLB. While Angelo has seen to it that the Bears are always a full cupboard when it comes to lower round draft picks, he struggles to get key skill position players on offense, and it has hindered Chicago's progress in further diversifying its offensive attack with deep post patterns and bomb passes in recent years. Not since the 2006 season with the WR combination of former 2nd Round draft pick Bernard Berrian and veteran Mushin Muhammed have the Bears been a threat to go long and actually complete a bomb or a deep post pattern. This was evidenced by Devin Hester's failure to catch Jay Cutler's deep pass in the end zone that would have blown the game wide open earlier than it would actually happen against Miami on Thursday night.
So, what do you suggest we do to cure all ills with this organization, you ask? Lovie Smith must stay on as head coach. He is the most successful Bears head coach since the days of Mike Ditka, and I think that with he, along with his excellent coaching staff, which is possibly the best in the NFL, we can return to prominence as one of those franchises in the league that every analyst from ESPN to the NFL Network to Timbuktu talks about and drools over. However, Jerry Angelo must go. His arrogance is beyond belief, and I truly believe that as long as he is in control in Halas Hall, we will lack consistency, and that will ultimately lead to Smith's denouement and firing as head coach because he will get the blame for the failures. Lovie Smith is a victim of one big, grievous wrong by the McCaskey family: the presence of Jerry Angelo as general manager of the Chicago Bears.