The Lovie Smith era came to a end today in Chicago. Emotions were high as players are going to miss Smith, while many fans are glad he's finally gone. Let's make this clear, Lovie Smith is a good football coach. He will likely be a head coach in this league again, maybe even as soon as this year. Being a NFL coach comes down to one thing though, winning. A lack of winning leads to lost jobs, which is what happened today. What killed Lovie Smith is three playoff appearances in the last nine seasons. Also, the lack of execution on the offensive side of the ball. Smith is a talented defensive mind, but could not find a coordinator to complement him on the other side of the ball. Ron Turner, Mike Martz, and now Mike Tice have all struggled to get a consistent offense going. What begins today is some heavy lifting for GM Phil Emery.
I believe Emery made the decision to fire Smith weeks ago with how fast the organization decided to part ways. Many household names will likely be leaving this roster as well. I fully expect a 30-40% roster change going into training camp next year. Some say that many players were too comfortable with Smith as the coach. Devin Hester was overly emotional stating he may retire today at Halas Hall. With Emery deciding to go a different direction, it also may mean the end of Brian Urlacher with the Bears. Also, players like Nick Roach and Henry Melton are looking for new contracts and a new coach is obviously going to want his "guys" in place. Also, Jay Cutler is going into the final year of his deal. So what route should Emery go?
The popular names all fans want is Bill Cowher and John Gruden. I don't see that happening. The Bears will look at offensive coordinators like Washington Redskins Kyle Shanahan, Denver Broncos Mike McCoy, and New Orleans Saints Pete Carmichael. Also, Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong will interview. I see them going with one of these names. After the hire is made and a staff is filled, the roster will take shape. Some speculate the Bears moving to a 3-4 defensive scheme based on the coordinator hired. I believe it's a mistake to move from the 4-3 to a 3-4. The Bears don't have the players to accommodate such a move without a major rebuild project. The current defensive line players and linebackers just don't translate well.
What will Emery likely have to do? First and foremost he will need to bring in offensive line help. Either through the draft or free agency, it will be a priority. Finding a tight end will be another priority and finding young players to add to the pipe line is a must. The draft will be very important. Emery's draft last season was not overly impressive when you break it down. McClellin is a athletic player, but Chandler Jones or Whitney Merciless were better options for the 4-3. Jeffery, Hardin, and Rodriguez all suffered setbacks due to injuries. Isaiah Frey is learning on the practice squad. This year's draft will need to add more impact players to close that talent gap. A new coach and staff will also want Emery to bring in guys that fit their scheme. One final thing that will be interesting is the Jay Cutler situation. Depending on the hire, will Cutler sign a extension or even be offered one? Will the Bears go with a total rebuild and draft a quarterback? Or will they build their future around Jay Cutler? Phil Emery may have been hired last year, but the Emery era officially begins today.
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