The villagers are gathering their pitchforks and torches and making their way to Halas Hall. Actually, most are just dusting them off from 2009 when Lovie was last in the cross hairs, but either way you can sense the anger and frustration among fans will make its way up to the Bears front office, where changes will be demanded. New GM Phil Emery will be obliged to respond. But even if/when he fires Lovie, it’s not going to be a pretty picture for the Bears for the rest of this season and beyond.
Let’s cover the impending coaching change first. For all those that are expecting John Gruden or Bill Cowher, you can put those ideas to rest. The Chicago Bears don’t hire experienced coaches; it’s just not how they operate. Mike Ditka, Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron and Lovie Smith were all first time head coaches, rising coordinators who got their first shot in the big chair from the McCaskey family. I just can’t see that changing this time around. I’m not sure who the hot assistants are out there right now, but I’ll start paying attention because that’s the likely pool of “affordable” labor the McCaskey’s will be looking for.
Whoever is at the wheel, the Bears are heading for a cliff that will make the fiscal cliff look like a speed bump. It could get really ugly really quickly. The defense has been steadily falling apart throughout the season but it’s just a glimpse of what’s coming. If Lovie goes, so does the Cover-2, for which most of the players were hand picked and the only scheme that most defenders on the roster know.
If you fire Lovie, you’re most likely going to launch coordinators Rod Marinelli and Mike Tice. While I won’t be shedding any tears for Rod, Tice’s loss has bigger ramifications. It means yet another offensive coordinator and another transitional year for Jay Cutler. How many more excuses do he and the offense need for not succeeding? If the Bears change offensive coordinators, it will be the fourth OC that Jay Cutler has had since he arrived in 2009.
It’s possible that the new coach could keep Tice or possibly promote quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates to the role, but I’m not convinced that any head coach worth his chops will like that deal. I suppose if you hire an offensive-minded head coach, he might keep Bates around to act as OC without the real power or authority to coordinate the offense, sort of like Lovie does with Marinelli.
Regardless of who is tossing the red challenge flags next season, it’s not going to fix the roster overnight either. Jerry Angelo left an awful mess for Phil Emery to clean up. There are holes to fill on offensive line and at tight end not to mention re-stocking the defense with some younger impact players. Name one Bears defender under the age of 30 that is an impact player that the new coach can build a defense around. Hank Melton is above average, but is he a guy you have to scheme against or plan to double team? Tim Jennings is having a stellar season, but he’s a prototype Cover-2 corner. How would he fare in a new scheme? Shea McClellin could be a piece if the Bears switch to a 3-4 defense, where he could be the rush linebacker many think he’s best suited to play.
The future does not look very bright for the Bears. The defense was patched together to try to make one more run at a championship, but injuries and age seem to have caught up with them. The offense will improve with some help on the offensive line, but when you’re ranked near the bottom of the league, there’s nowhere to go but up.
Remember when the Bears brought Jay Cutler in when the knock on him was that he was a good QB that couldn’t win games because he had no defense in Denver? Those days might be right around the corner, if he lasts that long.