The Chicago Bears have fired head coach Lovie Smith, the team confirmed Monday. General manager Phil Emery will hold a press conference on Tuesday at 10 A.M. CT in the George “Mugs” Halas Auditorium at Halas Hall.
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times cited sources who pointed to starting the season 7-1 while ultimately missing the playoffs as large part of the reason for the decision.
Starting quarterback Jay Cutler received the news while in the midst of his weekly radio show on ESPN 1000. “I've gotten to know Phil [Emery], and he means business,” Cutler said. “He wants to win now and not later. I'm sure he’s got a plan in place and that it’s a good one.”
Cutler did say he wished he could have done more to help Smith on the offensive side of the ball and expressed his respect for Smith. “I think it’s going to be a sad day at Halas Hall—lot of respect for the guy. He’s made friends with a lot of the players.”
Smith finished his ninth season as Bears’ head coach, which was tied for the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFC and fourth-longest in the NFL, with a coaching record, including playoffs, of 83-66 (.557), and helped see the Bears to three division titles, two NFC Championship game appearances, a Super Bowl appearance, and the 2006 NFC title.
His 83 overall wins are third most in franchise history, trailing Hall of Famers George Halas and Mike Ditka. Additionally, his team led the NFL with 310 takeaways during his tenure.
When the Bears fired general manager Jerry Angelo in the 2012 offseason, team president Ted Phillips announced that the new G.M., ultimately Phil Emery, would be required to keep Smith for the 2012 season, while having the contractual power to hire and fire in 2013.
What the Bears saw was a window of opportunity to get back to the playoffs and make a run at a championship. What they got was a mid-season collapse.
Bears’ middle linebacker Brian Urlacher told Fox Chicago Sunday night, “I don’t see how you couldn’t bring him back as a head coach.” It’s safe to assume that many in the locker room feel or felt the same way. And it will be interesting to see what some of the veterans have to say this afternoon, because, with a new head coach coming to town, anyone could be on the chopping block.
Fox's Jay Glazer is reporting that The Bears have asked for permission to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. We'll have more in-depth on candidates as the week progresses.