Of all of the Black Monday axing’s, the biggest head-scratcher out of all of them was that Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery passed along the news to Lovie Smith that his services were no longer needed in the Windy City.
True, there were a lot of firings today, including Ken Whisenhunt, Pat Shurmur, Chan Gailey, Romeo Crennel, Norv Turner and, after fourteen seasons in Philly, Andy Reid. But the dismissal of Lovie Smith is the anomaly here as he is likely the only one of this group who didn’t deserve to receive a change of scenery.
Much like Andy Reid, Lovie will be on the market for about five minutes before he receives an offer of some sort, if he hasn’t already. One of those other teams that let go of a head coach this morning could very likely be the team on the end of the phone, too.
So why was a coach of a ten win football team let go? In his nine years in Chicago, the Bears were usually near the top of the league in defensive out put, but their offense never really worked under his administration. The team did win fifty six percent of his games in his nine seasons there, posted double digits in wins four times and even made a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. But in six of his nine seasons in Chicago, they missed the NFL postseason.
Still, the success that Smith had in Chicago overshadows a lot of coaches that kept their jobs today. This team is two years removed from the NFC championship game and just posted ten wins, missing the playoffs by a tiebreaker. The rumor is that his firing is being met with some of the largest player unrest by a team termination of a head coach in recent memory.
When Phil Emery took the job last year, there were whispers that he wanted to bring in his own guy to coach the team. It would appear, after this scenario, that these rumors turned out to be true. After jumping out to a 7-1 start, some were calling their defense the second coming of the Monsters of the Midway. But the team collapsed in the second half of the season and finished just 3-5, giving Emery the opening he needed to polish off his ax.
It’s a very disappointing move in my humble opinion, as Lovie is one of the good guys in the NFL and a guy almost any fan outside of a handful would be ecstatic to have leading their team. There is little doubt that he’ll have his pick of multiple franchises that want to bring him in and he’ll be paid handsomely to do it.
It’s one thing for a coach to be liked by his player’s, but it’s another to earn their respect, and Lovie had the respect of every guy in that locker room and he certainly will elsewhere. For an example of how devastated some of the Bears players are, one needs look no further than Devin Hester who claims the move has him pondering retirement as he lashed out at the media and fans of Chicago.
”The media, the false fans, you all got what you all wanted. The majority of you all wanted him out. As players we wanted him in. I guess the fans – the false fans – out-ruled us. I thought he was a great coach, probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around. He brought me in.”
What does this mean for guys like Jay Cutler who have one year left on their deal? It’s all up in the air, really, depending on who the Bears decide to bring in and what direction they’re likely to go. For all of those shouting for a high profile guy like Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden, you might as well pipe down. That really isn’t Chicago’s style. But I will not be surprised if they bring in an offensive minded guy.
As for Lovie, I see him taking a job with the Bills, possibly. They have some terrific defensive pieces up there and just need a coach to show them how to put it all together in a way that Chan Gailey couldn’t. But sunny San Diego might be a more attractive option if they come calling.
Tagged with: Bill Cowher, Buffalo Bills, Chan Gailey, Chicago Bears, Devin Hester, Jay Cutler, Jon Gruden, Ken Whisenhunt, Lovie Smith, NFC, NFC North, Norv Turner, Pat Shurmur, Phil Emery, Philadelphia Eagles, Romeo Crennel, San Diego Chargers