Oct 7, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith reacts in the fourth quarter of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. The Bears won 41-3. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

Debating a Lovie Smith Contract Extension

They say that idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  With the Bears on a bye this week and the usual business of weekly preparations for the next game shut down, rumors are swirling that the Bears are having discussions with Lovie Smith about a 2-year contract extension.  I’m really torn about this deal, so I’ll present the case for both sides and see what you think. 

The Case FOR a Lovie Smith Contract Extension

Player’s Coach

Lovie Smith is a player’s coach.  But it’s not just a matter of him looking out for his players and taking it easy on them during practices and such.  Lovie has total and complete respect of the locker room.  Look no further than halftime of the Jaguars game, when Lovie “cursed out his team without cursing” and led them out of their first half funk and on to victory. Even a new guy on the other side of the ball like Brandon Marshall looks to Lovie as a father figure and someone he can turn to.


When we watch Tom Brady in New England or when Peyton Manning was still in Indianapolis, we would marvel at the precision and ease with which those offenses operate.  Those teams had continuity and the systems were well established.  That’s what we’re seeing with this Chicago Bears defense.  It’s not a coincidence that they’re one of the top defenses in the league.  Those takeaways don’t happen by luck.  The core of this unit has been together forever and the man in charge is Lovie.

The System

We, ok, I, I am always ragging on the Cover-2 defense.  We’ve even named a spoof series of posts – The Cover Stew – after the much maligned defense.  But you know what?  It’s working and it’s not just about the aforementioned continuity.  I was listening to Matt Bowen talking in The Score the other day and he talked about played for Lovie in the Cover-2.  He said that it’s a helluva lot simpler than a lot of the other defenses out there.

The Case AGAINST a Lovie Smith Contract Extension

A Closing Window

The “Over the Hill Gang” as they’re called has been playing exceptionally well this season, but let’s face it, the end is near and the window for this unit is closing.  The guys that make Lovie Smith look like a genius have mostly seen their best days.   Is Phil Emery equipped to re-load the defense with a new set of players to carry the torch?  Are there enough young players around which to rebuild a Cover-2 defense?  Melton has been solid, but how much of that is because Peppers is beasting?  Tim Jennings has been opportunistic, but how much of that is because Peanut is drawing the tougher assignments on the opposite side?   If there aren’t enough players around whom to build this defense, should it be re-built according to Lovie Smith’s blueprint?

The System

I know I was just lauding the system, but it’s a blessing and a curse at the same time.  We’ve learned that certain players make the Cover-2 work.  A middle linebacker that can cover a lot of ground.  A dominant 3-technique defensive tackle.  A stud pass rusher or rushers so you can rush the passes with only four.  We’ve seen what happens to this defense when these elements are not in place – when Tommie Harris sucked, when Urlacher missed the season, when there was no Peppers.  While the system is plug and play, you have to plug in very specific pieces.

Bottom Line Business

For all the good that Lovie Smith has done for this franchise, he’s missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons.  Let’s face it, this is a bottom line business.  If things go sideways and the Bears miss the playoffs or don’t make a deep run, do you really extend a coach who’s missed the playoffs far more often than he’s made them?  2006 was a long time ago.

Lovie has a deal through 2013, so what’s the rush?   Are the Bears really going to save a buck by trying to sign him early?  And if you’re Lovie and you believe that this team is heading in the direction everyone thinks and hopes they’re heading for the postseason, wouldn’t he be wiser to wait until after the season to maximize your payday?

So what do you think?  To extend or not to extend?  That is the question.

Should the Bears give Lovie Smith a contract extension?

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  • John Mack

    I support an extension of Lovie’s contract and I think the big X factor is actually Phil Emery. No, I don’t mean because it’s Phil calling the shots, I mean Phil is the X factor in that it’s his job to give Lovie the personnel necessary to operate on both sides of the ball. McClelliln looks to be developing well and Brandon Marshall’s and Michael Bush’s addition speak for themselves. If Phil can keep this roster stacked with talent while developing more talent, I don’t see why we won’t return to being a perennial football power. I challenge anyone to make an argument that Lovie’s lack of post-season appearances ISN’T because of talent and depth. For once it would appear that both sides of the ball are stacked (granted the offense is sluggishly coming along). We’ve normally been stacked on the ‘D’ but as this offense starts clicking watch out! Sure, sure you’ve been hearing that since training camp but each week they gel a little more and get a little closer to being more proficient.

    So my votes goes with retaining Lovie Smith. Phil Emery has to keep this roster in shape with a hungry mix of veteran (Bush, Marshall) and rookie (Jeffrey, McClellin) or developing (Rachal – not the best example) talent. That combination should set us on course for success and we must get the GREEN BAY monkey off our backs NOW!

    • EnderWiggin

      Actually, Rachal has had two nice games in a row.. Not perfect,but big hustle and heart.

      • John Mack

        That’s why I included him as developing talent. I didn’t mean from the perspective of Rachal being a rookie or young player, but someone that will need ironing out in this new system he’s playing in.

  • http://twitter.com/Stujoe Stu Miller

    Here’s the thing. Lovie Smith drives me nuts and his defense drive me nuts. I want to fire him every other season I think. lol

    But it is hard to argue with the success he has had and with some obviously flawed teams. I know we want Ditka and an 85 Bears team every year but we have had 3 NFC North Championships and a Superbowl trip under Lovie. We got to the NFC Championship 2 years ago and were 7-3 the next year before injuries. And we are looking good this year.

    Now that things are coming together on both sides of the ball, I don’t think it is the time to dump him. Especially if this year turns out well. It is Emery’s job to replace the aging stars. If he can keep feeding Lovie players, Lovie will get them to play.

    And he will probably keep driving me nuts.

  • SouthSide

    For those that know me, they know I have never been a big fan of Lovie. I would just like to see some type of emotion from him. Pathetic reason, I know. I’m not looking for someone with Ditka’s fire, but at least a spark. Granted, Ditka’s ego finally got the better of him and he eventually lost the respect of his players.
    This is Lovie’s team – they’re his players, and i would say their window to win the big one is in the next three years (including this one). The backup QB and the next coach are always more tempting. The grass is always greener on the other side, but you still have to mow it. Now I have no idea what I just said or what it even means, but my vote would be to the two year extension. My God, I can’t believe I just agreed to extend his contract.

  • flowermike

    Boom, are you suggesting the ghost of Dick Jauron again????

    Do not extend Lovie one minute. Lose the Retreat 2. Develop an offensive line and hire REAL coaches. This nightmare must end.

    Jauron’s 13-3 season led to mediocrity. The parallels are scary.

    • John Mack

      You mean the same Dick Jauron that had the wealth of talent at the QB position. You know, such wonderful names as Cade McNown, Shane Matthews, Chris Chandler, Kordell Stewart and I’ll make an exception for Jim Miller’s good year. Or the dearth of running backs (Anthony Thomas aside)? Curtis Enis much? And who was the General Manager at the time? Certainly someone that kept his teams stocked deeply with talent right?

      I’m not suggesting that you’re saying Dick Jauron was a better coach. OBVIOUSLY you’re not. But Lovie, when given the talent I do believe is a good coach. We’ll see what happens.