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Thursday, January 3, 2013

For the Record: Lovie Sads and What's Next Edition

Erik, our newest esteemed colleague, is represented by mashed potatoes. HE KNOWS WHY.


This season was certainly a disappointment. Life as a Bears fan is full of disappointment…but this one was unique. They’ve never raised hopes so high and then crushed them in such a long, methodical fashion. There was no easy, quick collapse like last year, when we all could say “well, if they had Jay…” This year they had everything they should have needed. At some point they just stopped playing good football, nearly across the board. In those situations, fair or not, the blame has to fall on the only thing that connects all of those players. Lovie paid the price. Even if it wasn’t his fault, even those of us who’ve always been in his corner conceded that there was little to be said in his defense. The Bears were patient. They gave him four chances at getting the offensive coordinator right. They threw QBs and players under the bus to protect him. They threw Jerry Angelo in front of the train to protect him…and in the end, he was the last man standing. You can’t win every power struggle and then expect to avoid the blame when everyone else you could have blamed is gone.

I will miss Lovie Smith. You can never truly tell with such things, but I believe he was a good man. He brought respectability back to this franchise. I’ve been frustrated, but rarely embarrassed, to call myself a Bears fan during his tenure. His philosophy works, but things never came together the way they needed to. Such things happen. Cowher took 14 years to win his Superbowl with the same formula. Such patience is hard to find.

He certainly had his issues. His devotion to his philosophy alternately strengthened and crippled him. It allowed his team to consistently limit big plays and get big takeaways…but kept him from recognizing when the four man rush was failing, when the blitz was necessary…when that 20 yard catch and sprint by the RB was eventually going to be a big f*&king deal. His greatest failure was that he knew nothing of offense, and trusted it to the wrong people. That cost him his job, and no one can say they lacked the justification needed to do so.

So goodbye, Lovie. We like you, we respect you, we thank you, we wish you well, but more importantly, we’re ready to move on.

That last thing there is the most surprising thing to me. Like you said, I don't think any of the three of us has any contempt for Lovie. He fielded good teams, epsecially great defenses and special teams units. But the offenses killed him. Cutler hasn't panned out over his first 4 years, flailing between awfulness and greatness. His offensive coordinators have been a marching band of fail. Turner was too plain, Martz was too crazy and had to be neutered, Tice was running two offenses at once and wasn't great at either of them.

But yeah, even though I don't have an issue with Lovie, it was time. His consistent okayness had become unacceptable. Eventually strides forward need to be made, and Lovie hadn't made any noticeable strides in many years. Time to cut the cord.

I'm sad to see him go, because he's probably the second-best coach in Bear history, but this team should be competing for Super Bowls, not missing the playoffs. Like you said, everyone else who could have been fired has been fired. He's the only one left.

What were we talking about? I was going to do an alternate, gloating piece in which I examine each of Red's arguments in favor of Lovie staying and why they didn't save his job. I'll save my sad recollection for that.

Well, that’s only fair.

It’s definitely going to be an offensive minded head coach next. If it’s McCoy I think the likelihood that they give Cutler one more year goes up. He has Denver ties, has worked with Marshall in the past, was able to adjust his playbook for both Tebow and Peyton Manning, so he seems like a guy they’d hire to give one last crack at sparking the Cutler light bulb. If he fails, you don’t blame him and you let him pick the new guy.