Yesterday morning as we all know by now, the Bears fired their head coach, Lovie Smith. Smith had been the head coach of the Bears for the last 9 seasons (one of the longest tenured coaches in the NFL before his firing). In his 9 seasons with the Bears, he led them to 3 division titles, 3 playoff victories, and 1 Super Bowl appearance. His overall record as the Bears head coach was 81-63.
Smith’s firing did not come as much of a surprise to most Bears fans, some of which who had been growing increasingly upset with Smith as the head coach. While there is no question that Lovie is one of the best defensive coaches in the league, it was his teams’ lack of offense that essentially got him fired. Only once in his 9 years with the Bears did their offense finish the season ranked in the teens or better, and that was ’06 when they ranked 16th in the league. This year, the year that they were supposed to have a deadly offense with the additions of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, the Bears finished the season ranked 28th in total offense. That is simply unacceptable. Instead of scoring touchdowns on drives in which the Bears started inside the opposing team’s 40 yard line, they regularly settled for field goals or were forced to punt.
I heard a statistic on the radio the other day that I found really interesting. Since Lovie took over as head coach of the Bears, he has hired and fired more assistant coaches/coordinators than any other coach in NFL history over a 9-year span. What this tells me is that Smith is obviously bad when it comes to picking out effective assistant coaches and coordinators. Not once in his tenure with the Bears did Smith hire a decent offensive coordinator. Ron Turner was awful, Mike Martz was better (but still bad), and Mike Tice was no better than Martz this year. When you are competing against teams in your division like the Packers and Lions who have good offenses, you cannot afford to continuously end up near the bottom of the league in total offense. That will get you nowhere.
A lot of fans who liked Lovie are saying that a 10-6 season should not have gotten him fired. While a 10-6 record is not a bad record by any means, you have to look at how the Bears started this season, as well as Smith’s history as the Bears head coach.
The Bears started this year 7-1. They were on their way to a top 2 seed in the NFC. Then, they lost 5 of their last 8 games and missed the playoffs. During their 7-1 start to the season, the Bears gained a ton of national attention for their defense and the amount of touchdowns that the defense was scoring. While this was all great for the Bears, it was also covering up their offensive struggles. The defense was putting up points almost every game, and the offense (and fans) became too relied upon that trend. When the defense finally came back down to earth and stopped scoring touchdowns every week, that is exactly when the Bears began losing games with regularity. The offense had zero consistency and had a tough time putting enough points to win games, even though the defense was still keeping them in the games by not allowing many points.
So here we are today waiting to see who will take over as the next head coach of the Bears. Most analysts are saying that the Bears’ GM, Phil Emery, will be looking for an offensive head coach. A few names have been mentioned already as possible candidates. One name that sticks out to me is Mike McCoy, the current offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. The Broncos ranked 2nd in points-scored this year, and 4th in total yards. I personally think he could be the best option when it comes to guys who have never been head coaches. Some other names being tossed around are Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Andy Reid, and Brian Billick. Of those 4, Bill Cowher would be my choice, however I think it is very unlikely that this will happen. Jon Gruden is a good coach, but I don’t see him and Cutler getting along too well. Andy Reid may be the best offensive-minded coach on the market, but it sounds like he is headed to Arizona. Brian Billick coached some teams in Baltimore that were very similar to the Bears that we have seen over the last 9 years, however, Billick took one of his teams to the Super Bowl and won it. I think he could work well with the Bears’ defense, but I don’t think he is the right choice.
It is going to be very interesting to see what the Bears do over the next couple weeks. I am hoping that they sign a more offensive head coach this time around and that they hang on to Rod Marinelli as their D-coordinator. Unfortunately for me, I have no say in what they do.