Friday, November 19, 2010

Lovie Smith is a Good NFL Head Coach

The Bears are who we thought they were! ~ Dennis Green
The 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.


LORD TRUTH 101 said...

The NFL has achieved a great deal of parity. Coaching and a few great players separate the real good teams from the good, mediocre and bad ones.

I won't doispute that Lovie is a good coach. He's a far cry from a Belicheck or Andy Reid.

The Bears have defeated a weak Minnesota team twice this year who has a weak head coach. They beat the woeful Buffalo Bills. Miami was using a third string quarterback and the game was close till the late third quarter. And 16 to 0 against a third stringer isn't somthing Bill Parcells would brag about.

I don't think Lovie deserves to be fired. I think Martz' influence in the offense has helped and another year of Martz as coordinator could move the Bears into the elite.

The Bears won't spend the money to get a great head coach anyway. They will always have Dave Wannstadts or Lovie Smiths.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Well, TRUTH I hold the distinction you are making is GOOD v. GREAT. Belicheck is a Great coach, he's been blessed with some superior layers and ia able to really get the most out of others, Also he has a knack for pulling off great trades.

Lovie has really done well with the players he's been given and he's never blamed those players, even when the players performed poorly ala Cedric Benson 2 carries -1 yard in the Super Bowl or Rex Grossman's career.

But, most of the problems for the Bears have stemmed from mistakes by Jerry Angelo. Forgetting to check the conditionally draft boxes on the restricted free agent forms of Dwayne Bates and Roosevelt Colvin. Continued failures from 1st Round draft picks.

Lovie's a good coach who has a team which believes in him and is winning. Can't ask for much more at this point in the season.