May 23, 2012; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith during organized team activities at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Chicago Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith in a Familiar Position in 2012


Before you start rolling your eyes, saying, “he’s at it again” hang with me for a bit.  If you’re a long time reader of this site (and if you’re not shame on you) you know I used to write a little blog for ChicagoNow called FIRE LOVIE SMITH.  I’m not gathering the torches and pitchforks and calling for Smitty’s head, but I am keenly aware that there is a new boss at Halas Hall who might have something to say about the head coach in 2013 and beyond.

When the Bears began their search for a new GM, one of the restrictions was that he would inherit head coach Lovie Smith for the 2012 season.   It’s believed that kind of limitation may have hurt in the recruiting process but despite that, they seem to have found a halfway decent guy in Phil Emery.

Emery has impressed so far in his very limited tenure with the Brandon Marshall trade and shoring up some areas of need in both free agency and the draft.  One area onto which he hasn’t been able to put his stamp is the coaching staff.

Who knows, he and Lovie may see eye to eye and they sign Lovie up for another juicy extension?  But at the same time, Emery may want to put his stamp on the Chicago Bears.  That’s what real GM’s do.  This all has a very familiar ring to it.

Flash back to 2001.  Rather than re-hash it, I’ll turn to my friends at ChicagoBearsHistory.com 2001 season recap:

Preseason 2001 started with turmoil, much as Bears fans are used to. Mark Hatley, then Bears VP of Player Personnel, ran his final draft in April 2001. Rumors had been flying for months that Hatley was dissatisfied with Bears’ management and wanted to leave. Publicly, though, no one involved would admit there was a single problem. During the draft, he made a solid selection by taking Michigan WR David Terrell, who was an absolute surprise to last to the Bears’ seventh pick in the first round. In the second, a questionable pick was made with the selection of Terrell’s teammate, running back Anthony Thomas. Thomas was rated as a durable straight-line runner with questionable speed and moves. Why pick another Curtis Enis, many said. Hatley completed the draft by selecting two offensive linemen, a defensive end, and the fastest man in the draft who had tested positive for marijuana.

In May, a press conference was called to announce Hatley’s “mutual termination”, a term that seemed to be coined by this Chicago Bears organization that seemed to be in utter disarray. Hatley stated that he was tired of losing, and felt partially responsible, so thought it would be best to leave the organization. Team President Ted Phillips agreed, and released Hatley. Interestingly, Hatley caught on with the same title in Green Bay, and his first move was to sign DT Jim Flanigan, whom was his very last cut in Chicago. Phillips announced the Bears would be hiring a bonified General Manager for the first time since the 1986 season. As the Bears don’t seem to do anything without being controversial, Phillips declared the organization would be paying an executive search firm over a quarter-million dollars to screen prospective candidates, and the search would take over a month. After choosing between Philadelphia personnel man Tom Modrak, Denver director of college scouting Ted Sundquist, Tampa personnel man Jerry Angelo and others, Phillips finally named Angelo the teams’ new GM in mid-June. At the press conference announcing the Angelo hire, he stated that anything for 2001 would only be “fine tuning”.

If Angelo’s moves from June to the opening of the season were “fine tuning”, we would hate to see his wholesale housecleaning! The new GM promptly traded troubled QB Cade McNown to the Miami Dolphins for a song, and cut higher-priced and popular veterans Mike Wells, Bobby Engram and Barry Minter. Even CB Thomas Smith, signed in 2000 for $22 million, was shown the door in a smart move after Smith’s inconsistent (at best) play the season before. While these moves proved to be necessary to shed salary from underproductive players as well as develop young talent, many saw them as Angelo’s way to ensure a poor season from Coach Dick Jauron. Most believed Angelo wanted to see Jauron fail so he could hire his own coach in 2002.

 

While Emery hasn’t shaken things up quite as much as Angelo did when he rolled into town, make no mistake about it – the pressure is on Lovie Smith. Say what you will about the talent that Jerry put around Lovie during his tenure. Lovie is a better coach than I had given him credit in the past. He’s done a lot with major deficits holes on his roster. Fair or not, Lovie faces his last stand in 2012. Will his players respond like Dick Jauron’s did? A big difference between 2001 and 2012? The 2001 Bears weren’t expected to do anything while there are really high hopes for this season’s squad. Let’s hope for Lovie’s sake this Bears team delivers.

What do you think? Is it good to have Lovie on the hot seat? Do you think it’s a win or go home situation for Smith?

BEAR DOWN!!!

  • Phil_X

    Hey Boom. I agree, and Emery knows that there is a lot of talk about Bill Cowher “wanting” the Bears job. If Lovie doesn’t go deep (the NFC Championship game) I think he is gone, and Emery woos The Chin to Chicago.

  • WayThompson

    I like Lovie, and the players seam to love him.  I might be a win or go home situation, but I would keep him for several more years.  The guy has class, and bring class to the Bears.  Emery should see this after this year.  Lovie has given us some exciting seasons with very little talent.  This will be a winning year, so Lovie should be able to walk into other head coaching positions around the league if Emery gives him the sack.  Let me end by saying that we could do a whole lot worse.

  • WayThompson

     @Phil_X
     Cowher doesn’t have the class of Lovie.

  • WayThompson

    I like Lovie, and the players seam to love him.  I might be a win or go home situation, but I would keep him for several more years.  The guy has class, and bring class to the Bears.  Emery should see this after this year.  Lovie has given us some exciting seasons with very little talent.  This will be a winning year, so Lovie should be able to walk into other head coaching positions around the league if Emery gives him the sack.  Let me end by saying that we could do a whole lot worse.

  • Phil_X

     @WayThompson
     Lovie definitely has more class than Cowher, not that Cowher is classless. The Steelers (minus Hamburgler) are a pretty classy organization. I like Lovie, but don’t think he is the best “game day coach”. I’ve watched the Bears lose too many games they should have won because of coaching under Lovie. The hope you and I have is that the Emery/Lovie marriage brings the Superbowl back to the Bears. I think Lovie can do it with this talent.

  • City

    Hey Boomer, I agree too. The only thing that scares the heck out of me though is Jay Cutler having to endure yet ANOTHER new OC and Offensive Playbook. So, I hope, really hope, that Mike Tice has a solid year OC’g. Does anyone know if Tice was a good game coach? As OC, he’ll be making a lot of key calls (timeouts, substitutions, challenge recommendations, not to mention offensive strategy.) I seem to remember that he was pretty solid in that department, but I didn’t follow him too closely.

  • Phil_X

     @City
     City….Tice may be the primary key to this season. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • BearGogglesOn

     @Phil_X  @WayThompson Guys – are we interested in class or Super Bowls?  How much class did Ditka or Buddy Ryan have?  While I admire Lovie’s “class,” I’d prefer a few rings.

  • BearGogglesOn

     @Phil_X You sure know how to catch my attention.  I’ve been a fan of The Chin for years.  If they plan to try to woo him, Emery and the Bears had better be ready to dig deep because Cowher won’t come cheap.  That’s not the McCaskey way of doing business, but we can hope.

  • BearGogglesOn

     @WayThompson Let’s not get ahead of ourselves on Lovie.  Talent limitations aside, Lovie has missed the playoffs in 4 of the last 5 seasons.  Class and “players loving him” are nice, but this is a results oriented business. 

  • BearGogglesOn

     @City City – nice to hear from you.  I’ve been wanted to do a little digging to compare Tice’s Vikings teams – and offenses in particular – to what the Bears have in place heading into 2012.   I’ll get to work on that ASAP.

  • UCF_Bear

     @BearGogglesOn  You can’t make THAT argument of “Talent Limitations aside.”  This is absolutely a results oriented business, but if you don’t have talent you won’t get results.  Look at the QB position last year.  I’m not sure anyone could have coached Hanie (who had us all fooled from that NFC Championship Game) to win those games.  I do think McCown would have beaten Denver, KC and potentially Oakland because our offense would have been at least moving and he would have had Forte in the mix as well.  But that’s talent (respectively) that got results (again respectively).  To say Talent Aside is the argue “Ok ok, I know there was no offensive potential but this Defensive Coach should still have been able to win…with NO offensive potential during last season’s collapse.”  Had there been depth, as Emery has sured up, at least on the Offensive side of the ball, we most likely would have seen a different result.
     
    But I do think that Lovie is on the hot seat too.  He usually performs well under pressure.  I’m thinking with Tice running the offense (and Smith is a big fan of Tice) that will allow our defensive strategies to get more focus.  I’m interested in seeing what big hitters we go for in next year’s draft!  I feel a Defensive Overhaul coming and not because the analysts keep down-talking our older stars, but because we have a new sheriff in town.  And on his watch he’s going to want to maintain the infrastructure of this franchise and what makes this franchise the Monsters of the Midway!
     
     
    BEAR DOWN!

  • BearGogglesOn

     @UCF_Bear Don’t give Lovie a hall pass on the talent portion of the equation.  He’s had his share of influence on personnel decisions (Adam Archulleta anyone?) Even the QB’s that were on the roster were influenced, albeit indirectly, by Lovie.  In selecting Martz as his OC, he gave him free reign to bring in whoever he wanted (Manumaleuna), trade guys (Olsen) and run his show.  Lovie didn’t preoccupy himself with the other side of the ball, so don’t think that this season will be any different with Tice. 
     
    As the head coach, Smith is ultimately responsible for what happens between the white lines on Sundays.  That’s why he’s among the top paid coaches in all of sports (http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanriper/2012/05/15/the-highest-paid-coaches-in-sports/).  I like it when Lovie is on the hot seat.  Remember the brief wave of accountability at Halas Hall a couple of years ago?  That’s when the seat was the hottest and the Bears responded with a trip to the NFCCG.
     
     

  • WayThompson

    Lovie always responds well to the hot seat.  Bear down Lovie…