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Is Lovie Smith The NFL Coach Of The Year???

Rock Mamola

Producer/Host on WSCR 670AM The Score.

The Chicago Bears are 9-3.  Make no mistake about it, the Chicago Bears so far in 2010 has proved all the doubters wrong.  What nine wins does in this town is switch the conversation from are they legit to how far can they go.  When people spoke of the Chicago Bears this time last year it was all about change, who needs to go, and if Bill Cowher would consider coming back to coach in the NFL

What a difference one year makes.
Now there are still some doubters out in the realm of Chicago sports waiting for the next loss to rehash discussions of old, but the facts are the facts.  The Chicago Bears at 9-3 with four tough games left on the schedule are sitting pretty for a very good playoff spot in the NFC.  While at times I have doubted the legitimacy of this team myself, they have proven to me that with that defense and outstanding special teams play with consistent balance and no risk taking on offense.....they could make some noise in the NFC playoffs.
The question that has to be asked is who to give credit to this dramatic turnaround of events?  Of course you could look at the new additions on the coaching staff as well as players like Julius Peppers.  However like last year, the Bears' failures fell on the shoulders of public enemy number one in Chicago in Lovie Smith.  While he may get no credit from some skeptics, is Lovie Smith the coach of the year in the NFL?

Yesterday in the usual victory Monday press conferences where the top players from the game (not named Cutler, Urlacher, Peppers, etc.) prior get a chance to talk, Bears Safety Chris Harris was asked the question about Lovie Smith and the NFL coach of the year award.
"I think he's in running for coach of the year," Harris said. "We're 9-3. People had us picked to finish last in our division, if not third."
Lovie Smith is no stranger to the award, he won it in 2005 taking a 13-3 Chicago Bears team all the way to Miami only to fall to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI.  After three straight seasons of no playoff appearances and accumulating a record of 23-25 in that span, you would think a coach who leads his team to nine wins in twelve weeks (including their current five game winning streak) would be one favorite for the award. 

Unfortunately for Lovie that is simply not the case.
As unpredictable this year has been in the NFL with parity running rampant throughout both conferences, you have to look at the history of the award to understand why Lovie Smith will not win it.  Since Lovie Smith won the award in 2005, every winner of the award has improved their team by making the playoffs that season and increasing the win total of the team by six wins or more from the previous year.  The only exception was in 2007 when Bill Belichick led the only team in NFL history to win all 16 regular season games in one season. 

Currently Lovie Smith sitting at nine wins on the season would have to run the table in the final four games of the regular season over teams in New England and the New York Jets whose combined record on the road this season is 9-3.  Also the Bears would have to go to Minnesota and Green Bay and win on the road, the Vikings and Packers combined record at home is also 9-3.  Although the Bears have amassed a 5-1 record on the road, keep in mind they have beat some sub-par teams on that road.  The Bears road wins are against the Cowboys (1-5 home), Panthers (1-5 home), Bills (1-5 home), Dolphins (1-5 home), and the Lions (2-4 home).  The cliche is it is tough to go on the road and win in the NFL, but looking at the teams they have beaten is it any surprise they have done so well?
Are the Bears that good, or that lucky? 

That is the question that has been asked time and time again and yet those who want to believe still have trouble believing in this team.  Of course the Bears have had break after break fall into their favor this year, but sometimes a little luck needs to happen from time to time.  The number of breaks that have fallen the Bears way this season has been out of the ordinary, and then you toss on top of that the Bears are the healthiest team in the NFL

It is really hard to not be good team when you have near 100% health for all your games when you face the talent the Bears have faced this season.  In other words, how much of a better job has Lovie done with a complete roster for the entirety of the season facing eleven different teams so far this season with only three of those with an over .500 record (New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles).   
When you look around the NFL other than Chicago, there are much better candidates than Lovie Smith for the award.
Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles) - After trading a franchise quarterback in Donovan McNabb to a division rival, the revival of Michael Vick a surprising first place in the historically tough NFC East.
Mike Smith (Atlanta Falcons) - Already surpassed their win total from last year, leading the NFC's most competitive division (only division with three teams with +.500 records).  Improved defense (top 10) and one of the highest scoring offenses in the league.   
Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers) - Once again a top defense and have already matched their win total so far after losing Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes and Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games of the season (3-1 record in those games).
Todd Haley (Kansas City Chiefs) - At eight wins on the year with four games to play.....the Chiefs have won ten total games in last three seasons combined.   
Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) - After the Randy Moss trade....Patriots are still 10-2 and playing so much better.
Steve Spagnuolo (St. Louis Rams) - Last time the Rams won six or more games was 2006.  This time around the Rams are winning games with a rookie quarterback and a defense that is ninth in the league in points allowed.  By the way, the Rams defense has finished next to last in points allowed each of the last three seasons.
While the Chicago Bears may be one top team (record wise) in the NFL, the resume for how they have gotten to that record has more holes than a block of swiss cheese.  Lovie Smith has had a season filled with good health and much luck. While he may have turned from heel to hero in one season, the only way I see Lovie awarded with the award some say he deserves is if he truly does the impossible.
Win Super Bowl XLV.
Rock Mamola is the Associate Producer of The Mully And Hanley Morning Show and co-host of The Joe O And Rock Show on WSCR 670AM The Score
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patrick said:

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i agree rock, as good as the bears have been what lovie has done are things he should have done in the first place. such as letting hester return punts on a regular basis. i am a big andy reid fan, i would like to see him win it

iowagyrl said:

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Rock, good post! I expected a love letter to Lovie. I keep telling you you're under-rated!!!

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