CSN Chicago’s John “Moon” Mullin is reporting that a contract extension is on the horizon for Bears head coach Lovie Smith:
"Nothing is ever done until it’s done but whispers are growing a little louder that Lovie Smith’s new contract may well be in place within the next two weeks, CSNChicago.com was told Monday.The extension, forecast here for some time dating back into last season, is expected to add two years and give Smith a modest pay bump from the approximately $4.8 million he made in 2010 and stay in the range of his estimated $5.5 million for 2011."
This is a tough pill to swallow. Lovie guided the Bears behind a mind-boggling number of lucky breaks to within a few plays of a Super Bowl berth in one of the most unlikely seasons this side of Dick Jauron. I’ll say this about Lovie – his team rallied around him and never quit on their coach even when all the critics and outsiders thought Lovie was on his way out the door. Unlike guys like Brad Childress and Wade Phillips – coaches who were fired during the season – Lovie’s guys played their asses off for their coach and were fiercely loyal to him.
Like most prognosticators, I was really skeptical of the Bears heading into the 2010 campaign. I never believed that the addition of Julius Pepper and the healthy return of Brian Urlacher could have made such a big impact on the defense. On the offensive side of the ball, a come-to-Jesus moment during the BYE week may have changed the course of the season and put the Bears in a position to get to third second NFC Championship game in the last 5 years.
I will never understand how you miss the playoffs for 3 straight years then lose the NFC championship game in one of the luckiest season on record and get a raise? How does it make any sense that Lovie will be making more than Packer coach Mike McCarthy, who WON the Super Bowl?
Let’s face it, the 2010 Bears overachieved. They were the healthiest team in the league, faced a number of teams’ backup and third string quarterbacks, had weather disasters change schedules and game locations and faced arguably the worst playoff team of all time in their run to the NFC title game.
Given the age of the key stars on defense, the thinking at Halas Hall must be to make one more run at a title with this group in Lovie’s scheme. The hope is that the Bears can sustain what they did on defense and the offense can take the next step and improve over a 2010 season which was as shaky as Cutler’s knee by the middle of the 2nd quarter of the NFC Championship game.
This extension is totally unnecessary given that Lovie has another year left on his deal and I personally would like to see how he responds with another season under the gun. I heard repeatedly from players that Lovie’s demeanor this season was different and a new sense of urgency existed. Accountability can be a terrific motivator. So can a desire to get more money. Once he gets the money, does the urgency go away? If there’s a silver lining to the deal it’s that the deal doesn’t appear to go beyond the fat extensions that Jerry Angelo and Ted Phillips gave themselves. I guess we’ll have to wait until 2013 for Bill Cowher. Think he’ll wait?