Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

31 Dec 2012

Bears Fire Lovie Smith

This one, I don't get. Lovie Smith was 10-6 this year. Did the team fall apart in the second half of the season? Yes. Two straight years? Yes. Was the team hit by roughly a zillion injuries the last two Novembers? Yes. Did the Bears ever stop playing hard, or did they not give their all to win in the final week of the season with the playoffs on the line? Nope. Maybe the Bears higher-ups need to be looking at the training staff, not the head coach.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 31 Dec 2012

89 comments, Last at 07 Jan 2013, 12:13pm by snoopy369

Comments

1
by Insancipitory :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:08pm

Everytime I see one like this I think of Jacksonville firing Coughlin.

57
by Chip :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 6:35pm

Agreed.

The Bears' issues over the last 9 years were about talent, not coaching.

Lovie finished his 9-year tenure with 8.3 games more than he should over 9-years (
a cumulative +8.3 actual wins ABOVE estimated wins) - on average an extra win per year. He only had two years with fewer actual wins than estimated wins.

The Bears have no players left on the roster from the 2004-07 drafts (except for Devin Hester who may retire). These players should be hitting their prime 26-30) and should represent the backbone of the squad.

His starting QB's over the last 9-yrs included:
Cutler (56 starts)
Orton (33)
Grossman (28)
Hanie (7)
Griese (6)
Hutchinson (5)
Krenzel (5)
Quinn (3)
Collins (1)

By comparison the winning Super Bowl teams over the last 9 years (NYG, GB, NO, PIT, IND, NE) have starting their franchise QB over 110+ starts per team.

In light of the talent deficit on offense, it's amazing he won as many games as he did.

58
by Ritchie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 6:53pm

Firing a coach isn't equivalent to "this guy is a bad coach and hopeless." It's perfectly reasonable to fire a guy who has real strengths and has had some success but isn't putting you over the top. I think a good guiding principle for this kind of decision is be bold but don't be stupid. Lovie had a long time to find a coaching staff for the offense that complimented him and it never happened. At this point firing him isn't the only option but it's also not like the guy has had a short window to figure things out.

Unless you mean you think the Bears are about to go into a franchise killing spiral after firing a solid coach. Which is really about a group of decisions still to come from Phil Emery.

62
by Turin :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 9:48pm

Precisely. Lovie wasn't fired for missing the playoffs this season, he was fired for nearly a decade worth of bad hiring decisions with regard to his offensive coaching staff(s). And while he's not solely to blame for the personnel problems on offense, he does get the blame for mistakes like continuing to waste Hester at WR long after that experiment was a clear failure.

70
by Roch Bear :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 1:13pm

Yup. This was a defining year in that regard. The offensive personal got significantly better, but the offense itself did not. Coaching is the obvious variable to 'blame.'

73
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 2:58pm

Hopefully, Tice is next.

2
by Dice :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:09pm

I understand why they feel they might need a change, but its not the move I would have made. Very curious who the next HC will be.

3
by andrew :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:09pm

Sorry to see him go, he didn't deserve this. He will coach again.

4
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:09pm

I don't know how Bears fans feel about this. As a Packers fan, I think he got a raw deal. I do hope he gets another chance to be a HC.

82
by tuluse :: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 5:02pm

The Bears just fired the 3rd best coach in their history.

I think it's likely they are coached significantly worse next year, but hope springs eternal. Lovie had some clear flaws that he simply wasn't able to correct.

5
by ammek :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:10pm

I don't get this either, especially if Chicago ends up bringing in another defensive-minded HC to replace him. Top-ranked defenses don't happen by accident.

36
by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:52pm

They better keep the 4-3, no matter what they do. Switching the defense around when it's this good is foolish.

88
by snoopy369 :: Mon, 01/07/2013 - 12:10pm

The problem is that the Lovie 4-3 (tampa-ish-2-ish) really requires a super MLB. The Bears had one of those for 9 years, but Urlacher is either done or at least is not nearly his previous self. His speed and strength are simply far less. Honestly, this is the time to change, if you're going to; perhaps Emery saw this as a possibility when drafting McClellin. Briggs could play well in any system, and Peppers will be good in any system - he could play 4-3 DE, 3-4 DE, or 3-4 OLB equally well (see Watts, JJ for an example of how a 3-4 DE with amazing physical talent can dominate a game). I'm not saying I yearn for a 3-4, but I think if you're going to make the change, now's the time - if you stay with 4-3 and Tampa 2 (say they hire Tony Dungy for example, hahaha) you sign/draft a new MLB, and if you don't, you go ahead and make over the team.

6
by RickD :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:12pm

I know a lot of Bears' fans are frustrated with Lovie. It seems to me, though, that they were having serious personnel problems. But ultimately the new GM wants to have the power to pick his own head coach.

Lovie Smith is one of the few coaches fired today who I think definitely deserves another HC gig.

7
by In_Belichick_We... :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:15pm

Wow.

A head coach in the NFL next year I'm sure.

What is taking San Diego so long?

10
by mkosteva@gmail.com :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:20pm

Pacific Standard Time Zone, mostly ;)

8
by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:16pm

The bears are never going to win a superbowl until they can put together an atleast average offense to go with their spectacular defense.

I think its pretty clear that Lovie isn't capable of hiring the right people to do that, and can't do it himself.

Lovie is a fantastic defensive mind.

12
by Eddo :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:25pm

I don't disagree with any of this.

22
by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:51pm

Replace "Bears" with "early 2000s Buccaneers" and "Lovie Smith" with "Tony Dungy". Pretty much the same thing.

52
by Ritchie (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 4:28pm

I agree with all this. Lovie was a very good coach & I wouldn't be surprised if he wins a Super Bowl elsewhere but he hasn't had a clue who to hire to put the offense in a position to succeed. At some point you have to move on rather than saying "next year is the year Lovie finds a good OC he can work with."

55
by Paddy Pat :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 6:21pm

So, in keeping with this logic, do the Bears make a big push for Jon Gruden??

59
by acr :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 7:06pm

Well I've now tried about 40 times to post a reply that keeps getting rejected by the spam filter. Apparently if you talk about the NFL too much drupal thinks your comment is spam on an NFL site.

I'd love to see the Bears go with someone young/unproven rather than a previously successful coach who has been on TV for a few years. Out of the high profile candidates Chip Kelly would be my pick to chase. He seems like a fearless coach that isn't afraid to challenge football orthodoxy.

64
by Turin :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 9:51pm

As a Packers/Wisconsin fan: hire anyone but Chip. Please. :)

80
by Dean :: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 2:36pm

why? I would think you'd WANT them to hire a guy who ran a gimmick offense in college.

83
by Duke :: Fri, 01/04/2013 - 12:10am

I just had flashbacks to Gary Crowton, and thank you for THAT. *bleah*

9
by Hurt Bones :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:20pm

A lot of openings this year. I'm guessing Lovie will be a HC next year.

11
by Eddo :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:22pm

As a Bears fan, I have mixed feelings on this. Lovie Smith is a good coach with some flaws that weren't going to go away, at least not during this head coaching run.

He is phenomenal at building a defense, but he has shown that he cannot hire the right staff to build an offense. The talent is mostly in place: Marshall is a great WR, Forte is a good back, and Cutler (like Lovie) is a good QB with some flaws that aren't going away. If Cutler were an elite QB, like Brady, Peyton, or Rodgers, you could get away with a coach that excels on the defensive side. But since Cutler's not on that level, you need to be able to put together a system that maximizes his strengths.

So I think I like this move, provided:
1. Emery has a good idea of whom he'll be bringing in to replace Smith;
2. That coach is capable of building an offense.

That said, I would have been fine with keeping Smith and the defensive staff as long as Emery took over the offensive hiring. Could it be that Emery felt that in order to improve the offensive side, he needed to clear things out from the top down? I'm guessing that's it.

I liked Lovie Smith. I still do. He'll get another chance and some team will get a good coach, particularly one who can develop medium defensive talent into above-average contributors.

48
by Jerry F. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 3:04pm

I agree completely. Lovie's challenge history is so abysmal, his approach to short yardage situations so atrocious, his gameplan when ahead by a not very large margin so moronic, that it's easy to forget that he's nonetheless one of the best coaches. I'm not exactly happy to see him go, especially considering that his flaws are ones he shares with many head coaches. But it was hard to se the Bears really doing well with him at the helm, even if it's not his fault that none of the GMs he has served under have seen fit to fix the team's biggest problem, the offensive line.

56
by Scott C :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 6:26pm

What about the offensive line? You cant just throw a couple skill position players together and make an offense.
When has the OL been above average for Lovie? Is that his fault or the GM? (I don't know the answer to either).

81
by tuluse :: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 4:53pm

05 and 06 the line was above average. It was built almost entirely from FA hires. Then the FA market for lineman dried up, and Angelo was never able to adjust.

71
by Roch Bear :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 1:21pm

" .... I would have been fine with keeping Smith and the defensive staff as long as Emery took over the offensive hiring. Could it be that Emery felt that in order to improve the offensive side, he needed to clear things out from the top down? I'm guessing that's it. ...."

If I was Emery (Bear GM) I would be on exactly this line. Is it possible Emery actually made Lovie that offer, to leave him in place as HC but hire OC and offensive coaches from the GM spot, and Lovie turned that down?

89
by snoopy369 :: Mon, 01/07/2013 - 12:13pm

I generally agree with this post. I'll add on that if you're going to hire someone new, this is probably the year, assuming you don't bungle the hiring process; lots of good coaches available, and after this year a lot of them will have jobs. But those two 'provided' are pretty darn important... this is one of those moves that will look great or terrible in retrospect, and we really can't say until this time next year which (or perhaps this time 2015 at the latest).

13
by Anonymous007 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:26pm

Lovie's sin was his inability to hire a decent offensive co-ordinator. As long as they retain Marinelli and the rest of the defensive staff then this makes sense as long as the new HC is an offensive mind. If Marinelli and the rest of the defensive staff depart as well then the future takes on a bleaker look!

14
by Jimmy :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:27pm

Part of Lovie's problem has been that when he needed to hire a new OC he had job tenure issues of his own and the top candidates weren't interested,, so he ends up with poor OCs and the poor offenses they coordinate. I think he is a good coach and the Bears may end up regretting this one.

Cowher, Norv Turner and Rex Ryan please (see how fast I move on, and not all of the above are even available yet).

15
by In_Belichick_We... :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:34pm

Are you asking for Rex Ryan to be the next Chicago HC?
The Jets have had the same exact problem over the past few years (good D, bad O).
If I were a Bears fan, I'd be hoping for Andy Reid. If he can get a little more production from the offense before the defense declines, they may have a shot at a Super Bowl.

17
by TomC :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:37pm

Pretty sure he means Cowher HC, Norv OC, Rex DC. Ain't gonna happen, but I'd be fine with those coordinator picks, though I don't for the life of me see what you get in Cowher that you didn't have in Lovie (besides a mustache).

25
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:55pm

"I don't for the life of me see what you get in Cowher that you didn't have in Lovie (besides a mustache)."

Fire! Passion!!!1!!

43
by Jimmy :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 2:24pm

I agree with you really. I am just thinking about a coach with the charisma and gravitas to bring in coordinators of the stature I am envisaging. Of course if Ryan gets another shot this is all rather moot.

42
by Jimmy :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 2:22pm

Yes this.

19
by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:38pm

Cowher HC, Norv OC. Rex DC, I think.

39
by mehlLageman56 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:56pm

Not only do they have the same problems, Ryan is now in the same situation Lovie was in: GM fired, new GM with old coach for a least a season. Perhaps the new GM wanted Lovie gone from the beginning, and used not making the playoffs as an excuse. Andy Reid would be great for the Bears, but how much power would he want?

18
by Eddo :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:37pm

I'm assuming you mean Cowher as head coach, Turner as OC, and Ryan as DC?

I'll take Ryan as DC, maybe. I don't want the other two.

28
by TomC :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:05pm

Also, the Jets have fired Tannenbaum, which implies to me that Ryan is safe for now.

44
by Jimmy :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 2:27pm

Turner has always been a fantastic OC whenever given the chance. I don't particularly want Cowher either, not really sure who it should be, if at all possible I wouldn't mind keeping the defensive scheme and coaching staff in place, Toub too. There are some very good coaches amongst that group but if the baby is leaving with the bathwater then that is what it is.

46
by ScottB (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 2:38pm

Rex and Norv have too much ego to be anything less than HC.

16
by TomC :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:36pm

Regardless of whether Lovie deserved this, what strikes me is how bad the timing is. This team has a very narrow window, and 2013 might be the last season during which all the key veterans are still capable of playing at a high level. By the time they completely restock on defense, they'll probably need a new QB and #1 WR (Cutler is 29, Marshall 28). So why would you blow up the whole coaching staff and start over this year? It seems highly unlikely to me that a brand new staff could come in and have the team operating smoothly until at least the middle of the season, at which point it may be too late.

If ownership & Ted Phillips think highly enough of Emery and were shaky enough in their support for Smith, they should have let Emery bring his own staff in when they hired him.

84
by Duke :: Fri, 01/04/2013 - 12:14am

I understand that sentiment, but look at it from last year. Lovie and the Bears had a fantastic season going until Cutler and Forte got hurt, and then it just collapsed. It wasn't without reason to think that Lovie wasn't a problem, and having some continuity with the team was reasonable.

20
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:38pm

This is a very good year to be a highly-regarded coordinator, or a retread with some degree of past success. There sure are a lot of vacancies.

The thing is, there don't seem to be many offensive or defensive units guided by coordinators who seem like obvious head coaching candidates. Mark Roman, maybe? Ray Horton? Juan Castillo? (kidding)

21
by Joe T. :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:44pm

There are also a lot of retreads with past success - Turner, Reid, Smith, Cowher, Gruden. I think its a buyers market.

29
by jimbohead :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:07pm

How long before McDaniels gets another shot?

23
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:51pm

Bears fan, ambivalent about the move. I think he did need to go in order to fix the offense. I really don't think he's capable of evaluating offensive talent or coaches well enough to fix what ails the Bears.

On the other hand, the team's strength is a defense that features players tailored to run a scheme that isn't popular anymore. Unless the incoming coach retains Marinelli, they aren't likely to find anyone who will run the same system, so they'll actually get worse before they get better.

It's showtime for Phil Emery.

27
by TomC :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:03pm

It's showtime for Phil Emery.

Damn skippy. The only way this team is a Super Bowl contender next year is if 1) Emery hires a coach who's so prepared and efficient that he has everything in place and running smoothly by training camp, 2) Emery also manages to find at least two quality offensive line starters in free agency or the draft. I am very skeptical, but if he gets it done, I will give him a lifetime pass.

30
by Eddo :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:27pm

The same things were true if Smith was retained, though. Emery was certainly going to bring in a new offensive staff, which Lovie had shown he can't do well, and to upgrade the offensive line.

I like Lovie, but I think the Bears had reached their upper limit with him. The defense is going to fall off, yes, but that was probably true anyway, since Briggs, Peppers, and Tillman are all on the wrong side of their primes.

I definitely disagree that the Bears' defensive personnel is only suited to run the current system. Peppers and the other lineman would be good in any system, ditto Briggs. Tillman would likely, as well, as long as his ball skills and tackling skills are used. Jennings is iffier, but he shares some strengths will Tillman (tackling).

86
by Duke :: Fri, 01/04/2013 - 12:17am

I think Tillman is limited to certain systems--I don't think he has particularly good speed, and can get hurt by speedy receivers. That's what made him great in the Cover-2--he always had help over the top so that issue was reduced. I would still take him on most teams, however.

85
by Duke :: Fri, 01/04/2013 - 12:16am

I understand this sentiment, but then, I would have said that there was no chance the Colts would be playoff contenders this year after what happened last year. And I think the Bears are in much better shape than the Colts were, so who's to say the team can't stay at the same level, or go higher?

24
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:52pm

The Bears have already asked permission to interview Denver's Mike McCoy.

26
by Joe T. :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 12:59pm

Yeah, McCoy really turned that Broncos offense around, didn't he? :-)

47
by wr (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 2:44pm

Yeah, we know who the real OC of the Broncos is. But he was
*very* careful to provide McCCoy with a large fig leaf.

31
by Bbarnett21 (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:31pm

How much of this firing could be attributed to the Bears schedule this season? At the end of the year, a 10-6 record, with the opportunity to be barely squeezed out of the playoffs doesn't look too bad in a vacuum. Unfortunately for Lovie, 5 of those 6 losses came in Week 10 or later. Starting 7-1 brought the requisite media hype, which enhanced the weight of the second half downfall. If the Bears schedule hadn't been so backloaded with stronger teams, I think the narrative isn't nearly as negative, and therefore, Lovie probably stands a greater chance to remain head coach. In fact, just think of the scenario where the Bears schedule was inverted, and instead of "collapsing" the team went on a tear in the 2nd half.

I know this fails to encompass any of the ideas of players getting injured and needing a regime change after so many years, but it is still though-provoking nonetheless.

32
by Anonymous (not verified) (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:36pm

Andy Reid to the Bears?

Crazy...but...maybe?

33
by Dice :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:38pm

Any chance that Bruce Arians gets an interview as HC? Would he want to leave Indy?

35
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:50pm

I remember reading that he didn't want to appear to be bailing on Pagano. If Chuckstrong gave his blessing, I'm sure Arians would be a candidate for all of the openings.

41
by drobviousso :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 2:21pm

Arian's style of "Chicks Dig the Long Ball" + Cutler would be pretty entertaining, I think.

79
by turbohappy :: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 1:17pm

As a Colts fan I sure hope not.

34
by joshuacbennett :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:47pm

The Bears continually neglected to improve their O line. While I'm not the biggest Cutler fan, the difference in his performance in Denver behind a good line and in Chicago behind a poor line indicates how much the Bears' terrible blocking hindered the team. If Smith was responsible for this, he probably deserved to go despite his contributions to an amazing years-long string of top-performing defenses.

But, if not bringing in better offensive line talent was due to either GM, Smith didn't deserve this.

37
by Spanky (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:53pm

so i guess its lovies fault that angelo whiffed on two o linemen early in the draft (picks which might have been used elsewhere), and that both angelo and his successor did nothing to upgrade via other means. an even passable o line would cure most of what ails the team. pass game would pick up, forte will find more lanes, and the defense will be off the field longer. i know FO pins pass protection on the QB, but that probably assumes that the o line in question plays above DIII quality.

38
by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:55pm

I am a Bears fan who is disappointed in seeing Lovie fired but I understand that this like any other business is a bottom line situation. Lovie has his flaws but I think we have to look at a fundamental fact. In this league, quarterback play is essential. If you look at the " great " coaches in this league they all have high level playmaking qb's. In Lovie's 144 games as head coach how many " good " qb performances did he get. Keep in mind that eight of those came in 2006 ( Superbowl year ) when Rex Grossman got " hot " during the first half of the year. Otherwise Lovie Smith won alot ( and I mean ALOT ) of games with average to below average qb performances. Not saying that Lovie should be left off the hook ( he should be held responsible ) but to win 81 games with the type of quarterback play he got over the years is pretty amazing.

40
by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 1:57pm

RE: 18

Eddo, what do you think of Jon Gruden? I like him as well as Kyle Shannahan. I agree, I am not the least bit interested in Bill Cowher. ( Or Brian Billick or Tony Dungy for that matter.)

45
by Jimmy :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 2:34pm

Dude use the reply button.

I shall offer my thoughts as we wait for Eddo.

I don't really want Cowher but he would be a strong leader albeit in a very different way to Lovie and he would probably be able to bring in some strong assistants. He has never been successful without Lebeau though.

Gruden knows how to make an offense work, one that would suit Cutler, Marshall and Forte, and would be hard on Cutler which is probably needed. I am not a huge fan of the guy though, the Chucky act got old fast. Maybe he can bring Monte Kiffin back to keep the Tampa2 rolling? That I could probably bear.

51
by Jimmy :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 3:52pm

I have remembered my problem with Gruden. His offense might be effective but it is probably the most boring incarnation of the Walsh West Coast I have ever seen. If your idea of a snappy play is a WR swing route (yes, swing route so it is behind the line of scrimmage) then Gruden is your guy. It does work though and might even be a good system for the Bears' skill position players.

50
by Eddo :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 3:23pm

Gruden is extremely interesting. The Bears' situation is eerily similar to the Buccaneers when Gruden took over, isn't it?

So Gruden makes sense if the window is only the next few years. I have no faith in Gruden developing the team so it's in better shape in 2017 than in 2012, but he could be an ideal short-term fix. As Jimmy says, he could be the hardass Cutler needs to cut down on his sloppy play.

I don't see it happening, though.

I don't know enough about Kyle Shanahan. I've had a few Redskins fans warn me off, so I'm hesitant about him.

McCoy in Denver seems like he'd be an OK hire. He was able to adapt an offense to make Tim Tebow fairly effective, and also had some success with Kyle Orton.

Cowher doesn't impress me at all. As TomC said, he's Lovie Smith with a mustache.

Billick, no. I might argue that Lovie Smith is a better coach than Tony Dungy. Lovie seemed better at actually developing young, raw defensive players, and neither could really build an offense sans Peyton Manning.

49
by IB (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 3:21pm

I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what tricks the former head scout of the Kansas City Chiefs has up his sleeve.

53
by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 4:37pm

Eddo,

It is extremely eerie how the Gruden situation could be repeated in Chicago. I agree that if Phil Emerey is convinced that the Bears could compete/win a Super Bowl next season Gruden has proven that he can be a quick fix. And you are right, after he won the Superbowl for Tampa things quickly fell apart for them, although one of the reasons was he was allowed significant say in personnel decisions and he seemed to favor older past their prime players. With Emery there that should not be a problem.

60
by justanothersteve :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 7:34pm

Giving up 2 #1's and 2 #2's to Oakland for Gruden was also a contributing factor. Not that Oakland did much with the draft picks.

54
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 5:16pm

Lovie coached 9 years and averaged a 9-7 record. To me, that's good. I understand wanting more, and if the Bears have an awesome candidate lined up then the firing is defensible, but there aren't many candidates out there with credentials more impressive than the guy they just fired. Andy Reid, perhaps.

61
by mrh :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 8:05pm

As a Chiefs fan, I remember a run of good seasons under Marty that ended in disappointment. After a while, fans and the GM got tired of good because they never won a SB. Marty was fired and since then the Chiefs have mostly been very bad with a couple of good years thrown in. They went from a very good defensive team to a very good offensive team (Vermeil years). Good seasons aren't guaranteed and a new coach is not necesarily a better coach.

63
by Jerry :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 9:48pm

Marty came to mind as I was reading these comments. People act like it's easy to bring in a better coach when your coach isn't quite good enough, but there are a lot more Norv Turners than Jon Grudens. Be careful what you wish for.

(And some other team will do well by hiring Lovie.)

65
by jackiel :: Mon, 12/31/2012 - 10:24pm

In a vacuum, I would agree with you.

But fans tend to check out and keep their money in their pockets when they don't have any hope. This is a business, remember. That's why excellent coaches like Marty, Reid, and Lovie get fired even though its more likely than not that their replacements will be inferior coaches.

I have to believe that HCs sign off on most player acquisitions (especially ones involving projected starters). I'm not sure that my limited Hard Knocks viewing has clarified this, but how much involvement do HCs have in personnel decisions?

74
by acr :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 3:57pm

This is terrible logic. Your goal in the NFL should be to try to build a perennial super bowl contender. Lovie Smith did a great job building a perennial playoff contender. It took a tremendous amount of hard work and a lot of coaches fail to even come close to that kind of success. Yet at the end of the day it's still not meeting what should be your goal as an NFL team. It's been almost a decade, there are other coaches out there, fear of making mistakes isn't a good reason to accept stagnancy.

66
by bucko (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 6:59am

The Bears players, especially on defense, strike me as being intensely loyal to Lovie Smith. Combine the age, older individuals tend to be less open to change, and the loyalty and the next coach could be walking into a really toxic situation.

Not saying the current roster is filled with bad guys. Just the opposite. But they likely think the coach who helped them become stars got a raw deal.

The next coach better be quite the svengali. And I think the college guy will get absolutely destroyed. Those veterans aren't going to buy any rah rah sis boom bah routine.

67
by Chip :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 11:03am

My bet is that Marinelli is kept as DC and the system is preserved. The Bears have a habit of forcing preconditions onto people

There Is too much system specific talent to be wasted on a DEF conversion, as well as some nice young talent (Melton, Paea, Wooton, conte),

68
by Jimmy :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 12:11pm

The two Pro Bowl CBs are both perfectly suited to the current scheme.

69
by the K :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 12:12pm

I kind of thought the FO readership would be in my same mindset upon seeing this headline and immediately thinking "Wow what a terrible decision for the Bears." There's no way they're a better team for this.

72
by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 2:58pm

They could be, which is the goal.

I'd say that they always had a chance at the super bowl with Lovie, but the window was closing. It looks to me like the Bears want to jumpstart their team. I don't know if it will work, but it's possible, and the Bears job seems like it's pretty attractive.

So it could be a terrible decision, but as a Bears fan, I'm happy that it was made, because the Bears were not going to win a super bowl with Lovie any time soon, and this could pay out.

Just please don't get another defensive coach.

75
by towishimp (not verified) :: Tue, 01/01/2013 - 8:40pm

I've never understood the "Super Bowl or bust" argument. To me, the goal of ownership should be to have a team that competes for a playoff spot every year. Put another way, to basically to keep the team relevant: in the national media eye, winning more than losing, etc. This keeps the fans interested and spending their dollars on your business. Sure, winning a Super Bowl is the ultimate goal, but it's a tough one to achieve.

As a Buccaneers fan, I'd kill to have them get a coach that performed as well as Lovie Smith or Andy Reed. With those two, at least your team was almost always good enough to pay attention to. When you fire a consistant guy for an unknown, you risk ending up with a Raheem Morris that results in an unwatchable team.

76
by Sifter :: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 2:57am

I think that business/money argument is reasonable, but it applies much less to Chicago than it does to poor teams like Minnesota, Jacksonville or Buffalo. Chicago is going to have a shed load of fans even if they spend the next 5 years at 3-13.

Sure it's a risk firing Lovie, but the Bears have lived the 'compete for a playoff spot every year' dream for the last few years, and now they want something more. Can't blame them. Bad luck for Lovie, and probably good luck for whoever picks him up.

77
by Eddo :: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 10:51am

There's a lot of truth to what you say, but if you're going to go with the playoff-contender-every-year strategy, then you need to actually make the playoffs more than three times in nine years (and only once in the last six), like the Bears did under Smith.

78
by Steve in WI :: Wed, 01/02/2013 - 12:45pm

As a Bears fan, I wish Lovie Smith the best and I hope he gets another head coaching job next season. I expect he will.

I'm mostly pleased with the move. I doubt that this puts the Bears in a better position for 2013 than they would have been with Smith, but I am almost positive this makes the Bears more likely to win a Super Bowl in the next 5-10 years. I think what the second half of the schedule proved is that with the current roster, the Bears are not a Super Bowl contender. No doubt that a large part of that was not Lovie Smith's fault, but I'd argue that some of it was.

Smith proved himself to be incapable of hiring good offensive coordinators. It says something to me when the best the Bears offense was under him was 15th...and that came with Rex Grossman as QB. In none of Cutler's 4 seasons with the Bears was the offense even mediocre. Yes, they didn't have a wide receiver until this year, but then Smith bears some of the blame for the Devin Hester experiment (and sticking with it long past the point at which it was obvious that he would never be a #1 WR).

In general, I think Lovie Smith could rightly be blamed for sticking with players who were clearly not good enough to be part of a Super Bowl team. The offensive line and tight end positions are a prime example of this; I can't think of how many times I heard him proclaim his faith in Kellen Davis this season. I don't expect a head coach to disparage his players his press conferences, but the level to which he went out of his way to praise underperforming players makes me think that he defended them the same way to management.

In short, I think Lovie Smith was a great defensive mind, but a poor evaluator of talent. That and his inability to find a decent offensive coordinator doomed him in Chicago. I have no idea how good the Bears will be in 2013, but if Emery makes a good hire I expect the Bears will be better in 2015-2020 than they otherwise would have been. As a fan who's tired of hoping to squeak into the playoffs and who looks jealously at teams where fans legitimately expect a trip to the Super Bowl every year, I'm okay with that.

87
by Duke :: Fri, 01/04/2013 - 12:27am

I will add my name to the list of Bears fans who love Lovie Smith, think he's a good coach, think he'll do well in his next job AND wish him well, but overall think this is an okay-to-good move.

The team has just stagnated. The two late season collapses...even if there were injuries (and I'm not buying injuries for this year--only Urlacher, and he wasn't playing great), just gave a sense that the coaching staff wasn't sure how to take this team further. That they were able to get good pieces, that they could come up with good schemes, but then some critical moment would come and the staff would come up empty. The Green Bay game(s), the Houston game, the second Vikings game...when you look at them objectively, you feel the Bears should have won some or all of them, but watching them you always had that feeling that they wouldn't. And I don't know why, and I don't think the staff knew why either, and that's why they're out.

(BTW, I don't buy this talk of keeping Marinelli. Seems a longshot to me. I think Emery gives the new HC full control over his staff, which likely means bye-bye Marinelli.)

Anyway, I think it was just time for Lovie in Chicago. Sometimes a guy needs a change, and the same goes for teams. I think Lovie will do well, I hope the Bears will, too. I wish Lovie could have been a Super Bowl Champion here but he wasn't, and I had no faith he would be. Good luck to him in his next stop.