Lovie Smith contract extension rumblings have begun to surface just five weeks into the 2012 season. It would be Lovie’s third extension, should he receive one, and would likely keep him here longer than Ditka; one of those two coaches won a Super Bowl. As a person who has been hard on Lovie Smith, I’ll admit it’s tough to argue that he hasn’t been successful.
Successful, however, is a subjective term.
Smith has only been to the playoffs once since 2006, and only three times in his previous eight seasons. He’s .500 in those playoff games (3-3), but it could be argued that injuries have kept him out of the postseason, and the lack of a legitimate quarterback has kept him from winning when he’s made it.
Honestly, neither are debatable. In 2009, the Bears lost Bran Urlacher to a wrist injury for a season, which left the defense, well, defenseless. In 2011, Jay Cutler and Matt Forte suffered season-ending injuries that stalled a hot-streak sure to propel the Bears into the playoffs.
Even when Lovie made the playoffs with a franchise quarterback (Jay Cutler, circa 2010), the QB went down with an MCL sprain. And although said quarterback hadn’t played well during the NFC Title contest, the Bears only lost by a touchdown.
Think about this for a second: Lovie Smith has had Brian Griese, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Craig Krenzel, Johnathan Quinn, Jeff Blake, Chad Hutchinson and Caleb Hanie at quarterback for at least some stretch of time. Rex Grossman was his starting quarterback when he made it to, and lost, Super Bowl XLI.
Is Smith really a bad coach? No.
Sure, Smith’s press conferences are duller than Adam Sandler’s last ten movies, and they do piss me off on a regular basis. But why is that? Because he doesn’t’ throw his players under the bus, and because he instills a sense of family throughout the Bears’ locker room. And you never turn your back on family.
He’s a winning head coach; the head coach of your 4-1 Chicago Bears, and we'll go from there (see what I did there?). His defense just keeps getting older, and they keep playing better. It certainly won’t be that way forever, but it’s clear that Smith is doing something right in the coaching department.
Anytime Smith has been on the hot seat, his team comes through and has a good year. Here we are again, in fact. New G.M. in town and the question is whether or not Phil Emery will keep Smith if they don’t have marked success in 2012? And, Smith has his Bears at 4-1 at the bye week, with a top-3 defense. At this rate, he’s going to be here a while longer.
In his last 10 games with Jay Cutler at quarterback, the Bears and Smith are 9-1.
I never thought I would say this . . . ever, but I am very comfortable with Lovie Smith as the Chicago Bears’ head coach. He’s had to work with Jerry Angelo's failed drafts, and still put out a winning record through his tenure. Now he has, hands down, the best team he has ever had in his nine seasons in Chicago.
Half time adjustments used to be non-existent with Smith. Now the Bears are a better second half team than ever. Everyone whines and moans about the Cover-2, but Smith is proving that his style of defense still dominates when you have a real defensive line that gets consistent pressure and a safety duo that can be relied upon; a safety duo that might finally be the same group heading into next season.
At this rate, Lovie will deserve another extension. But don’t jump the gun. Let’s see if this team can maintain its ability to dominate games and win. If that's the case, Lovie will get his paper after the season. But is it Super Bowl or bust? If the Bears make the playoffs and win the division or conference, I don’t see him going anywhere.