Lovie Smith has failed the Chicago Bears. Over his nine seasons in Chicago, he’s largely failed to accomplish any of his three goals that he laid out in his introductory press conference back in January of 2004 and that he repeats to his team each season: 1) Beat the Packers, 2) Win the Division and 3) Win the Super Bowl.
In Lovie’s tenure with the Bears, over the course of nine seasons and nineteen meetings with the Packers he’s beaten the Packers exactly 8 times. After an initial surge where the Bears went 7-5 from 2004 – 2008, the Bears have managed just one win since. After getting the Bears back to respectability with the Packers and restoring some actual rivalry to the rivalry, the Lovie’s words ring hollow and have become little more than a punchline.
Lovie’s second task after “beat Green Bay” was to win the division. The Bears have failed at that too. Since 2004, the Bears have won the NFC North crown just three times – 2005, 2006 and 2010. In that span, the Packer have captured the NFC North crown four times – 2004, 2007, 2011 and now in 2012. The Vikings won twice in that span too but at least the Lions never took a division title.
I don’t need to put Super Bowl stats in front of you because that’s too easy. We all know the Bears took one trip to the big game and failed to bring home a title. They took a trip to the NFC Championship Game too back in 2010, but we know how that turned out too. The Bears fell to the Packers in what could have been Lovie’s ultimate “kill two birds with one stone” moment, the Bears failed.
Lovie supporters will argue that Lovie hasn’t had the talent to compete in the NFC North, which is why GM Jerry Angelo was jettisoned after last season. That’s true, but you could also ask who’s gotten better in Lovie’s tenure? Which player has Lovie taken and made into a star? In his tenure, Lovie’s had a lot of influence over personnel decisions. How about Adam Archuleta or Orlando Pace just to name a couple.
The offense on the Bears has never ranked higher than 15th in Lovie’s tenure, in 2006 when they went to the Super Bowl. Othewise, they’ve resided comfortably in the lower twenties. Yes, Lovie is a defensive-minded guy, but he’s also ultimately responsible for the entirety of the football team including his offensive coordinator. Since 2004, the Bears have had four of them: Terry Shea (disaster!), Ron Turner (eh), Mike Martz (nutjob!) and Mike Tice (meathead!). I can’t see a scenario where the Bears could bring Mike Tice back. Can you really think about a situation where the Bears let Lovie hire another coordinator? I can’t either.
Lovie Smith has amassed a record of 79-63 in his time in Chicago so far. That’s a very respectable .556 winning percentage. But in games where it’s mattered most – in the playoffs – Lovie is just 3-3. Some would say that’s incomplete but I say it’s not nearly enough. Three trips to the postseason in nine years is not good enough. Moreover, without some help, this latest Bears late-season collapse will have them out of the playoffs for a second straight season and missing them in five of the last six years.
This is a results-oriented business. I’ve grown to like Lovie. He’s shown that you don’t need to be a rah-rah, yell and scream coach to be effective. Effective isn’t good enough. Effective doesn’t put trophies on the shelf. Effective doesn’t put rings on fingers and doesn’t lead to ticker tape parades.
The Bears organization owes it to the fans and the players in that locker room to do the right thing and let Lovie go. He’s failed these players, failed this organization and its fans and it’s time to go.
What do you think? Should the Bears fire Lovie Smith? Has his time come? Let’s hear your thoughts.