The Bears are who we thought they were! ~ Dennis GreenThe Bears defeated the Miami Dolphins 16-0 to improve to 7-3 this season. Which brings up the question of Lovie Smith's coaching ability. Lovie is not liked very much in Chicago. I tend to get exasperated at some of his coaching habits which seem to be mistakes to me. His challenge technique is poor and his record in them supports that conclusion. Additionally, he's lost several games (including one playoff game and nearly another) by his seeming inability to adjust his defensive schemes. But!!!
But, the Bears are in first place this year after 10 games and his record overall is very good. And during his tenure the Bears made their second Super Bowl appearance and, although they lost, it was to the favored Indianapolis Colts. Lovie has never lost a clubhouse or had his players turn on him.
Brian Urlacher, who predates Lovie Smith and is the best Bears player of the last 10 years and a borderline Hall of Famer, when asked about the negative coverage of Lovie by Marshall Faulk after the win said, "I don't understand it, man. I love Coach Smith. I think the problem is the media doesn't like him. He doesn't tell them what they want to hear. He doesn't sell players out on the field to the media."
Urlacher may be correct about the Media's dislike for Lovie, several 670 The Score radio personalities do not hide their desire for Lovie to be fired. And many sports fans in Chicago call up The Score and complain, 'Lovie isn't fired up on the sideline', that Lovie doesn't have 'The Fire and The Passion' to coach. While a rabid sideline demeanor is not a quality of a good coach, playoff appearances and victories are a good barometer. Following the Super Bowl Loss the Bears have failed to make the playoffs in last 3 seasons. So, during this last offseason the Bears picked up Julius Peppers, the best defensive end the team has had since Richard Dent, and Chester Taylor to guard against the possibility that Matt Forte is an average running back. The Bears are not blessed with unbelievable talent.
And that brings up the best argument for Lovie's status as good NFL coach. During his tenure Jerry Angelo has been a failure in talent evaluation and drafting. And has routinely left the Bears with deficiencies at key positions.
Jerry Angelo has a terrible record at drafting in the first round. Angelo has neglected to draft an offensive lineman in the early rounds since his failure with Marc Columbo and has not taken an offensive player of significance outside the aforementioned Matt Forte. The Bears best offensive player QB Jay Cutler was acquired via an expensive trade.
What Angelo has succeed in is drafting pro-bowl caliber defensive players, with Lance Briggs being a longshot Hall of Famer, and the gamble on Devin Hester.
Devin Hester is the best punt/kick returner to ever step onto a pro football field. His presence alone has been worth 3-4 wins a year since 2006.
And here is the problem, Lovie Smith has been saddled with a preponderance of average to below average players (by NFL standards) and has succeeded in squeezing the most out of those players and Jerry Angelo is very good at seeing raw, unrefined talent but fails at the task of selecting bona fide #1s. And Hester's play has covered up the egregious errors by Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo.
Which leaves the Bears were they have been for the past 3 seasons. Around the middle of the league. But, this season's not over and as the wins pile up, it's becoming harder and harder to justify the hatred of Lovie Smith who is a good NFL Coach.